The Greatest Adventure of My Life

(a movie review by Dirty Mike Shurig)


I got invited to see a special viewing of the most AMAZING Civil War movie. The Greatest Adventure of My Life, is about an eleven year old boy named Johnny (how come all young boys in Civil War shows are named Johnny? Johnny Shiloh, Johnny Yuma?) and his life and times during the War of the Rebellion.

One day, Johnny watches the platoon strength 11th Kentucky Union regiment march out of town in column of twos. I guess recruiting was bad in that neck
of the woods and they could only muster about fifty guys to make a regiment. Marching in twos certainly makes it look like a lot more men. I noticed one of the Yankee boys carrying a Colt revolver rifle. WOW! Lucky stiff, bet he was the envy of that regiment. Mind you, this is before Shiloh and I thought revolver rifles didn't show up until later in the war. Oh well, my friend Enoch once told me that if it's in the movies it must be true! (I think he also coined the phrase "If they'd have had 'em they'd have used 'em."

Johnny is determined to join the 11th and expand their ranks to fifty-one. He leaves Ma, Pa and his two teenage sisters and sets out to find his friends. Johnny stows away on a riverboat that looks surprisingly like an excursion boat that I once partied on. They also had a modern looking banjo and mandolin on board! ASTONISHING! How'd they do that?! The boat is commandeered by the Union army and Johnny and the civilians are put on shore. Then, seemingly from nowhere, they start getting shelled. OK, now I know they were close to Pittsburgh Landing but the battle had not yet begun. Shiloh was a surprise attack and the Rebs wanted to maintain silence right up to the very first shot. So who were shelling these poor people and why? I couldn't figure it out. I'll have to ask Enoch.

The battle scenes were UNBELIEVABLE! Three battles were depicted in the movie. Shiloh, Perryville, and Stone's River; one spring, one fall and one winter. But what was AMAZING was that all three battles appeared to be fought during the same time of year and on the same location. How'd they do that? The mighty 11th, fifty strong, along with some artillery, were the only Yankees in the battles. Boy, did they have their hands full! One time they were marching to the fray, someone shouts "Make way for our artillery!" and one caisson lumbers by! WOW! Johnny wins the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving his wounded captain in one of the battles. ASTOUNDING!

Johnny gets a letter from his Ma, Pa died and they need their little eleven year old home to do the planting. He wants to desert but recent orders have specifically stated that deserters will be shot. The boy can't help it, he's got to get back to help Ma and his teenage sisters, so he deserts anyway. The 11th sends about a quarter of its strength (around twelve guys) to go capture the little criminal. On his journey home, he comes upon some USCT's guarding a bridge. This was no ordinary bridge, it was constructed of steel and had guard rails just like the ones they got on I-71. AMAZING! No wonder they were guarding it.

Meanwhile, back at the farm, we find Ma and the two sisters with the mule and plow. The ladies can't seem to get the mule to budge and appear totally
bewildered. TA DA! Johnny shows up and saves the day! We get the impression that an eleven year old boy can do the work of a grown woman and two teenage girls. UNBELIEVABLE! I was always under the impression that the women capably worked the farms while the men were away at the war. The women in Johnny's family were portrayed as whiney and helpless. Very sad indeed.

Johnny's pards finally catch up with him and take him back to stand trial for desertion. Orders are strict, and poor little Johnny finds himself on his way to the firing squad. Yes, they were going to shoot an eleven year old boy for desertion! AMAZING!

Tension mounts as the order "Ready, Aim...", when suddenly, an old friend of Johnny's rides up alone disguised as General US Grant himself and saves the lad's life! HOLY MACKERAL! To think that these guys would fall for this ruse is UNBELIEVABLE!

So little Johnny rides off into the sunset and this AMAZING movie comes to a close. What ASTOUNDED me was that I sat through almost two hours of this.

The Greatest Adventure of My Life was the effort of some independent film makers. The producers asked The Camp Chase Gazette to come see it. At the
end, they passed out questionnaires to see what we thought of it and get some ideas on how or who to market this film to. Needless to say, my answers did not fair kindly to this production.

I don't believe this movie would be accepted in the reenacting world because of the gross anachronisms and inaccuracies. It could possibly fit as a children's movie somewhere, TV, cable? However, the way they portrayed the women as being whiney and useless at plowing would not send a very good message to the girls in the viewing audience. I would be very surprised if this ran in any theaters. If it does show up in a theater near you, make like Scarlett and be gone with the wind!