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Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor

Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor is a 2003 American television film directed by Mikael Salomon and starring Aidan Quinn, Kelsey Grammer, Flora Montgomery and John Light. It portrays the career of Benedict Arnold in the American Revolutionary War and his dramatic switch in 1780 from fighting for American Independence to being a Loyalist trying to preserve British rule in America. Arnold's relationships with his wife Peggy Shippen and the British officer John Andre are focused on. The friction between Arnold and General Horatio Gates, portrayed near the beginning of the film (for example, in one scene when Arnold derisively refers to him as "Granny Gates"), was historically accurate. The movie points out that, before his treason, Arnold was considered a patriot and a hero. A letter from General Washington is read at the beginning where he enthusiastically recommends Arnold for promotion saying that there is no general in the army more deserving and even comparing him to Hannibal. The movie briefly documents Arnold's final years of exile in England in which he laments his treasonous acts, realizing that he is despised and that people compare him with Judas and Lucifer.

Benedict Arnold: A Question of Honor
Written byWilliam Mastrosimone
Directed byMikael Salomon
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Running time100 minutes
Original releaseJanuary 13, 2003 (2003-01-13)


The movie opens with these words:

The American Revolution bitterly divided the people: A third calling themselves Patriots fought for a free and independent nation. A third called themselves Loyalists remaining loyal to Great Britain. A third remained neutral. Against the world's greatest power, the patriots suffered many defeats. Thousands gave their lives for an ideal: The United States of America.

In a letter to the Continental Congress, George Washington recommends Brigadier General Benedict Arnold for promotion to Major General for the numerous acts of heroism he made as an ardent Patriot. Washington first cites Arnold's Invasion of Canada through the Maine Wilderness, a feat he compares to Hannibal's march over the Alps. Washington notes that if Arnold hadn't been wounded during the Battle of Quebec Canada would now be the 14th State. He then notes Arnold's victory in the Battle of Valcour Island: Though Arnold lost all his ships, he succeeded in stopping an invasion from the north by the British. He also reveals that he is now helping General Horatio Gates stave off another invasion from the north.

At Saratoga, Gates has called Arnold off the battlefield. Gates tells him that he has ordered a retreat. Arnold reminds him that they has a joint command of the Northern Army and that he therefore can't order a retreat without consulting with him first. Gates reveals that thanks to his political connections Congress has elevated him to First in Command of the Northern Army and restates his order. Arnold refuses to comply and instead leads the Northern Army to victory, at the cost of being shot in his leg. Arnold's victory forces British General Burgoyne to surrender to Gates. Gates claims all the credit for the victory while Arnold undergoes treatment for his leg after he refuses to have it amputated. Gates goes on to command the Continental Army's Southern Army while Arnold goes home after the treatment is over.

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