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Hearts in Bondage ()

directed by
featuring James Dunn, Mae Clarke, David Manners, Charlotte Henry, Henry B. Walthall

First-time director Lew Ayres performs miracles on a tiny budget in the Civil War drama Hearts in Bondage. The story offers a romanticized version of the events leading up to the battle between the "ironclads" Monitor and Merrimac. Northern naval officer Kenneth (James Dunn), the nephew of Monitor designer John Ericsson (Fritz Leiber) is dishonorably discharged when he sinks the Merrimac instead of burning it, as ordered. He is restored to duty as a crew member on the Monitor, and in the ensuing sea battle with the recommissioned Merrimac he kills Confederate officer Raymond (David Manners), the brother of Kenneth's fiancee Constance (Mae Clarke). The estranged sweethearts are ultimately reunited with the help of Abe Lincoln himself! Both James Dunn and Mae Clarke are miscast in their roles, but they do their best under the circumstances to make their material "work" -- and often succeed. The real stars of Hearts in Bondage are Republic's special-effects mavens Howard and Theodore Lydecker, whose splendid utilization of scale models in the climactic Monitor-Merrimac confrontation is both exciting and convincing. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi Hide synopsis

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