In Seven Angry Men
, Raymond Massey
stars as controversial 19th-century abolitionist John Brown, a role he'd previously essayed in 1940's Santa Fe Trail
. Without glossing over Brown's murderous fanaticism and cold-bloodedness, the film manages to invoke a degree of sympathy for the man, whose intentions were honorable even if his methods were not. After cutting a bloody swath through Kansas, Brown and his followers hole up in a warehouse at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, where he meets his own personal Waterloo at the hands of federal troops. The romantic subplot is handled by Jeffrey Hunter, cast as Brown's son Owen, and Debra Paget as Owen's sweetheart Elizabeth. James Edwards offers another strong characterization as an articulate freed slave who follows John Brown to his doom.