Fernando Silva | Santiago de Chile. | 09/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this grand film a couple of months ago and I want to share my views with you.
Since a teenager I had read about this film, especially being one of its stars, Madeleine Carroll, an absolute favourite of mine...she shines brightly here, indeed.
I had read that this was one of the few or the only Hollywood film of the period that dealed with the Spanish Civil War, and not only that, 'cos it took sides with the Republicans, in other words, it portrays the Republicans as the heroes here.
To tell a long story short: after King Alfonso (Alphonse) XIII os Spain (grandfather of current King Juan Carlos (John Charles) I), was deposed by a Republican-Socialist Government?, Spain entered one of its most difficult times of its History; then the Civil War began, around 1936, with the Republicans (Socialists) on one side and Nationalists, lead by Francisco Franco on the other. Well Franco became Dictator Supreme in 1939, after he won the war, and mantained his position as such, until his death in 1975, when Democracy and Monarchy was restored.
Well, I was always so intrigued about this film,until I bought Image's DVD release in March, I hadn't seen until early June this year.
Henry Fonda plays a peasant who lives in a farm near the city-port of "Castelmare", he meets mysteriours foreigner Madeleine Carroll....the war begans...and the story goes on...
I must say that this film gained space and grew in my heart, with each passing moment, when the action, the war, the famine, grew more & more...it's greatly paced, photographed....by the underrated William Dieterle...who (what a coincidence!!) also was responsible for the breathtaking "Portrait Of Jennie"...which is one of my "top 5" films.
Filmed in glorious B & W, with excellent supporting performances by Leo Carrillo, Reginald Denny and John Halliday (what a villain!!....I recommend to watch him too in Dietrich-Cooper's Borzage "Desire", produced by Lubistch)
Some sequences almost seemed to belong to the expressionist (german), neorrealist (italian) movements.
By the way, among the supporting cast, in small roles,I catched glimpses of Lupita Tovar (Susan Kohner's mother and the female star of 1931's spanish version of Lugosi's Dracula, in which the main character was played by Carlos Villarías) and Katherine DeMille (Cecil B. DeMille's daughter and Tony Quinn's first wife and an excellent actress too).
Henry Fonda, as usual, is excellent, his performance reminds me of his role in the great "The Grapes of Wrath"...and Madeleine Carroll is equally grand.
The picture quality is very good. Image's releases have never "deceived" me. Their "Evangeline" release is great too.
Blockade is a Walter Wanger picture released thru United Artists.
After watching films like these, I feel great. 'Cos although it is a drama, in these hard times, it gives you hope that there's a chance for peace and justice in this messed-up world, if all people had the principles & views of Fonda's character.
BTW, Fonda's character's (Marco) last words (although much shorter; the film runs only 84 minutes) even (IMHO) have hints of Chaplin's final speech in "The Great Dictator",yet to come."