Power Shines in Conquistador Saga...
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 07/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's a shame that 20th Century Fox has yet to have released DVD editions of many of the films of the studio's biggest star, Tyrone Power. Almost impossibly handsome, enormously popular, and with excellent acting credentials, Power nearly singlehandedly kept the studio solvent in the traumatic transition years following WWII, with costume epics like "Captain from Castile" showcasing his strengths.
"Castile" echoes Power's earlier films, "The Mark of Zorro" and "Son of Fury", as again he plays a gallant standing against an arrogant aristocratic class, but this time he runs afoul of the Inquisition, and must flee Spain to re-establish his wealth and reputation, accompanied by loyal friend Lee J. Cobb, and a servant girl who secretly adores him (Jean Peters, in one of her best performances). Recruited into the service of the charismatic Hernando Cortez (Cesar Romero, who nearly steals the film), it's off to Aztlan (Mexico, today) with a small army to face the overwhelming but naive Aztec civilization.
While the film frequently drifts into melodrama, shooting on location in Mexico (with the permission and support of the Mexican government), in glorious Technicolor, gives even the most mundane moments a sense of spectacle, and the cast is in top form. Worth singling out is a terrific supporting performance by Thomas Gomez, as a soldier/priest who dispenses common sense as well as religion, and helps Power realize that the woman he truly loves is not on a balcony, in Spain, but beside him, as they march towards their destiny.
Two aspects of the film deserve special recognition; Alfred Newman's score, featuring the vaulting 'Conquest' march, is one of the finest of his long career, and is even more popular today than when the film was released; and Arthur E. Arling and Charles G. Clarke's cinematography is truly magnificent, particularly in the breathtaking finale, as Cortez' forces proudly march across a broad plain, with active volcanoes in the backround. Never has going 'on location' been more justified, as the image is unforgettable!
If any 'Powers that Be' are reading this review, PLEASE offer this film on DVD, soon! And while you're at it, consider Power's other great films of the 40s and 50s; he deserves to be 'rediscovered' by audiences, today...
A COLOURFUL SWASHBUCKLER!
scotsladdie | 03/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the last great Technicolor swashbucklers, this is a fine example of a big-budgeted forties historical-adventure film. Notice that the film credits include an acknowledgement to the Mexican Government for their advice and cooperation in the reenactment of historical sequences. Near Jaen, Spain, in the year 1518, young nobleman Pedro de Vargas is riding through the countryside when he encounters Diego de Silva in pursuit of a runaway slave. Pedro offers to help search for the runaway, and while scouring the hills, he is attacked by the slave, Coatl. As soon as Coatl recognises Pedro as an old friend, however, he desists, then shows Pedro she scars he bears from the cruel de Silva's whip and declares that he would choose death over surrender...In December of 1944, 2Oth Century Fox purchased Samuel Shellabarger's novel for an astonishing 1OO grand. Originally, Linda Darnell was to have been Cantana & Fredric March Cortez. The shooting schedule lasted over three months, 83 of those days were spent shooting on location in Mexico. Nearly 2O,OOO native Mexican and Indian extras were used in the crowd scenes. This lavish Technicolor spectacle cost 4.5 million dollars & the Alfred Newman score won an AA nomination."
History and Hollywood Merge
H. S. Wedekind | Pennsylvania, USA | 01/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember seeing "Captain From Castile" as a young boy on our B/W TV set with a 12" screen. My Dad had read the book years before and was as excited as I to see the movie in our home. The film captured all the romance, adventure, and swashbuckling drama that I loved then, and still love as a man in my 60s. Since then, I've seen this film many times and have read extensively about the Conquest of Mexico and found much of the movie to be historically accurate with regard to the conquistadors confrontation with the Mejica (i.e., Aztecs), the indigenous people who built the city of Tenochtitlan. Samuel Shellabarger's novel is more exciting to read, of course, especially the "Noche Triste" chapter, which was not in the movie, but I feel that the film should also be enjoyed as pure entertainment. It brings out the boy in me every time. I wish my Dad was still alive to enjoy seeing Tyrone Power and Jean Peters follow Cesar Romero's Cortes on his "conquest."
It would be wonderful to be able to see a mini-series of CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE filmed in the same cinematic style as the HBO/BBC collaboration on the made-for-TV series ROME. There were so many parts to the original novel, which ran over 500 pages, that it would have to be shot in segments. Of course, the PC crowd would have apoplexy if it followed Shellabarger's storyline, as tolerance of other people's culture and religious beliefs wasn't in vogue during the 16th century."
Tyrone Power at his best!
WLR | Chicago, Illinois United States | 06/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Please allow me to differ with the gentleman from Mexico City who trashed this movie in his biased review. I have studied Spanish, regularly watch Spanish television, and HAVE READ many books about pre-columbian Mexico and it's Conquest by Cortez and his gang of adventurers. This movie was shot largely on location IN MEXICO and I only spotted a few minor historical errors. It is a GREAT movie, as good as Tyrone Power's "Zorro" or his "Black Rose". If anything, this movie glosses over the savagery and barbarism of the rulers of Mexico City and their priests who engaged in human sacrifice and cannibalism every day. There was no exhibition of this in this movie except at the very end we see a temple with blood splattered steps. The modern, politically correct idea that the evil white men came and stole the country from the native Mexicans has only been around for about two hundred years. For three hundred years before that the vast masses of native Mexicans never felt that way at all. The rulers of Mexico City terrorized the native peoples, were widely hated, and, in fact, at the time of the fall of Mexico City there were more native Mexicans fighting on the side of Cortez and the Spanish than there were fighting for the Mexicans. These are historical facts that are ignored in today's political climate. Cesar Romero makes a GREAT Hernando Cortez. He resembles him physically and captures his robustness, daring, great charisma, and charm as he leads the tiny expedition across Mexico, "Beautiful Mexico", from the tropics to the highlands to Mexico City itself at the end of the great causeway on the islands in the lake in the valley of Mexico, where you can even see the volcanos smoking in the background. Thank you very much."