Cast & Crew
Lee J. Cobb
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 recognizes Pedro as an old friend, however, he desists, then shows Pedro the scars he bears from the cruel de Silva's whip and declares that he would choose death over surrender. After helping Coatl escape, Pedro rescues tavern girl Catana Pérez from the unwanted attentions of two of de Silva's men and gives her a ride back to the Rosario Inn, where she works. There Pedro meets Juan García, who regales him with fantastic tales of his travels to the Indies and kingdoms filled with mountains of gold. Juan accompanies Pedro back to Jaen, where Pedro tells his family about the new land. Pedro is interrupted by the appearance of de Silva, a champion of the Inquisition. When Pedro's father, Don Francisco, denounces the Inquisition as evil, de Silva insults Pedro by insinuating that he shared a dalliance with Catana. Later that evening, Pedro visits his sweetheart, Luisa de Carvajal, to pledge his love. After Pedro leaves the Caravajal house, Catana and her brother Manuel warn him that his father, mother and young sister Mercedes have been charged with heresy and imprisoned to face the Inquisition and that he is to be next. Desperate, Pedro turns to Luisa' s father, the Marquis de Carvajal, for advice. When the Marquis, who believes the Inquisition to be just, counsels Pedro to give himself up, Pedro angrily insults him and then leaves. Afterward, Pedro is captured and brought before de Silva, whom he defiantly accuses of cowardice. When Francisco refuses to confess to heresy, Pedro watches helplessly as de Silva condemns Mercedes to torture that results in her death. Juan, who has infiltrated the prison walls to put his mother, a victim of the Inquisition, out of her misery, later slips into Pedro's cell, arms him with a sword and offers to help him and his parents escape. Before Pedro can depart, however, de Silva enters the cell to torment him. Brandishing his sword, Pedro duels de Silva, and after disarming him, forces him to renounce God, then plunges his blade into de Silva's chest. Juan, Pedro and his parents then join Catana and Manuel, who are waiting with horses outside to aid in their escape. To deceive the pursuing soldiers, the group divides. Juan, Pedro and Catana ride into the hills while the de Vargas follow Manuel to the coast, where a ship awaits to take them to Italy. The next day, the Marquis informs Luisa that Pedro has attacked de Silva in cold blood and tells her that he has pledged her hand in marriage to de Silva, who will recover from his wounds. In the mountains, meanwhile, Catana watches jealously as Pedro fondles the handkerchief that Luisa gave him at their last meeting. When Juan learns that Hernán Cortéz is mounting an armada in Cuba to explore the Indies, he urges Pedro to enlist rather than sail to Italy to meet his parents. Eager to join the expedition to the new world and a new life, Catana convinces Pedro to join them. At Havana harbor, as Pedro enlists in Cortéz' army, Cortéz overhears him give his family name and introduces himself as an old friend of his father. Cortéz then presents Pedro to Juan Escudero and Diego Cermeño, representatives of the Cuban governor, and to the company's chaplain, Father Bartolomé. Believing that he has killed de Silva, Pedro confesses his crime to the priest, who then shows Pedro an order for his arrest. After declaring that he is not in sympathy with the Inquisition, the priest tears up the document, but does not tell him that de Silva is alive, and gives Pedro a penance to perform for his his sin: a vow to pray for de Silva's salvation.
Upon reaching Villa Rica on the East coast of Mexico, the expedition is met by representatives from the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, who offer Cortéz gold to proceed no farther and return to his own country. When Escudero reminds Cortéz that they have come to trade and not to colonize, Cortéz voices his determination to conquer the land at any cost. Catana, who has fallen deeply in love with Pedro, bargains with Botello, a charlatan and seer, for a magic totem to make Pedro return her love. After Botello gives her a magic ring in exchange for an extra portion of meat, Pedro passionately dances with her, proclaims his love and insists they marry that night. When Cortéz advances on Cempoala, Montezuma sends more gifts and requests that he turn back. After Cortéz assigns Pedro to guard the treasure, Pedro leaves his post one night to save the drunken Juan from being shot. During his absence, a bag of gems is stolen and Cortéz gives Pedro one day to recover them or face death by hanging. Pedro tracks the thieves, Cermeño and Escudero, to a galleon on the harbor, from which they are planning to sail to Cuba and enlist the aid of the governor in defeating Cortéz. After he is discovered and taken prisoner, Pedro is helped to escape by the ship's captain. Gravely wounded during the escape, Pedro is in danger of bleeding to death when Botello cauterizes his wound and saves him. With the jewels returned, Cortéz promotes Pedro to captain, then orders the destruction of all the ships to prevent further communication with Cuba. The expedition continues to the outskirts of Cholulu, where another ambassador, a nephew of Montezuma, comes with a large army bearing more gifts and a warning that the Gods are predicting war if Cortéz remains. In reply, Cortéz blasts an idol atop a temple with his cannon and declares that he cannot leave because he has no ships. Informed that eighteen ships have just arrived in Villa Rica, Cortéz pretends that they are enforcements, although he realizes that they have been sent from Cuba to attack him. After ordering half his troops to hold off the Aztecs, Cortéz leads the other half in a siege against the Cubans. Before leaving, Cortéz takes five Aztecs hostage and puts Pedro in charge of them. One night, as Pedro passes the building housing the hostages, Coatl, who has returned to his people, steps out of the shadows. After chastising Pedro for invading his country, Coatl tells Pedro that he would give his life for him, but if Pedro harms his people, he will fight him. Afterward, Catana tells Juan that she is carrying Pedro's child. Some time later, Cortéz returns from defeating the Cubans, bringing with him de Silva, the head of the Inquisition. When de Silva accuses Juan of killing his own mother, Juan explains that he was trying to spare her from being burned at the stake. Cortéz orders Juan's arrest, and de Silva informs Pedro, who has promised Father Bartolomé to keep his vow, that he has married Luisa and bears a grievance against him. To forestall a confrontation, Cortéz places de Silva under Pedro's protection. When de Silva is found strangled, Pedro, although innocent, is arrested. On the night that he is to hang, Catana visits Pedro in his cell and he instructs her to join his parents in Italy. Meanwhile, Coatl confesses to Father Bartolomé that he killed de Silva. To spare Pedro from suffering and dishonorable death, Catana stabs him just as the priest arrives with news that Pedro is a free man. Pedro survives, however, and soon takes his place at Cortéz' side. As the troops prepare to advance against Montezuma, Father Bartolomé exhorts them to go forward not as conquerors, but as men of God because all men are created according to God's plan. As Pedro rides off, Catana and their newborn son march behind, proud participants in the opening of the new world.
Lee J. Cobb
Arthur E. Arling
John Tucker Battle
Charles G. Clarke
Ralph De Lara
Charles Le Maire
Winston H. Leverett
Alfonso Sánchez Tello
Robert D. Webb
Darryl F. Zanuck
Darryl F. Zanuck
Best Music, Original or Comedy Series
Captain from Castile
"To do this picture ambitiously will cost a great deal of money," Mankiewicz wrote in a July 1945 memo to Zanuck. "It will require Technicolor, a huge cast, great numbers of people, elaborate sets, costumes, props, locations etc. The script will take a long time to write--thorough research will be necessary. Censorship problems should not be too difficult, once a satisfactory substitute for the Inquisition is established."
Mankiewicz was correct about all details, including the censorship problem, one of the first issues the studio had to face. The story concerns a young Spaniard, Pedro de Vargas, the captain of the title, who helps an Aztec slave escape his cruel master, Diego de Silva, incurring de Silva's wrath and bringing about the destruction of the de Vargas family and good name. By the time shooting began on Captain from Castile (1947), the de Silva character had morphed into the head of the Spanish Inquisition, a judicial arm of the Catholic Church and Spain's royalty established in 1478 to ferret out heretics; it became a tool for persecuting non-Christians and even Protestants both in Europe and the New World. The original scripts included scenes of the "examination" of de Vargas's family and the torture of his mother by one of the novel's major characters and villains, the chief Inquisitor and Dominican friar Ignacio de Lora. Changes were made to this version at the insistence of the Rev. John J. Devlin, a representative of the Catholic Legion of Decency and an advisor to the so-called "Hays Office," the motion picture industry's self-censorship arm. Devlin found the depiction of the Inquisition to be unacceptable to the church (despite its being somewhat historically accurate), so those aspects of the story were toned down, eliminating the auto da fe (ritual burning of heretics) prominent in the book, changing the name of the Inquisition office to suggest a distance from the church, and making the chief villain and head Inquisitor a lay person, de Silva, instead of the friar. With those changes, Devlin gave his permission to continue.
The sweeping scope of the novel also had to be truncated, especially in its second half, to keep the picture to an acceptable release length (although early suggestions had been to release it as a road show feature with intermission, a common practice in the studio era for large-scale, expensive--and long--epics). After the initial sequences about de Vargas's persecution and escape, the film follows his adventures as part of Cortez's expeditionary force in Mexico, depicting the destruction of the Aztec empire in what today we quite rightly view as offensive and inaccurate terms. Some reviewers and commenters at the time of the movie's release noted that the bloodier aspects of the book had been muted (case in point: the slaughter of thousands of Aztecs changed into a single cannon shot that destroys a religious idol), but most still found much to commend Captain from Castile as a crowd-pleasing adventure. In 2002, critic Jonathan Yardley characterized the film as "a faithful adaptation that had all the necessary ingredients: an all-star cast, breathtaking settings and photography, a stirring score, and enough swashbuckling action to keep the Three Musketeers busy for years."
There was little doubt who would play the hero. Fox immediately went to Tyrone Power, the studio's primary period-adventure lead in such films as Suez (1938), The Mark of Zorro (1940), and The Black Swan (1942). Power had just completed service in World War II, and the studio thought it best to return him to form after relatively downbeat roles in the Somerset Maugham adaptation The Razor's Edge (1946) and, brazenly against type, in the film noir Nightmare Alley (1947), the kind of complex, challenging parts the actor wanted but that proved far less popular with audiences.
Mankiewicz suggested the solid box office potential in reuniting Power with Linda Darnell, his co-star in four hit pictures, including The Mark of Zorro and Blood and Sand (1941), but Darnell's star had risen significantly during the war years, and when Peggy Cummins proved inadequate for the lead in another costume drama, Forever Amber (1947), Darnell was pulled into that production. The role she was originally slated for in Captain from Castile, the beautiful barmaid and de Vargas love interest Catana Perez, was given to Jean Peters in her film debut.
Mankiewicz also urged Zanuck to cast Fredric March as conquistador Cortez, Alan Reed or William Bendix as adventurer Juan Garcia, and Jose Ferrer as escaped slave Coatl. Those parts were eventually taken by Cesar Romero, Lee J. Cobb, and Jay Silverheels, later famous as Tonto on TV's The Lone Ranger.
Many of the film's scenes were done on location in Mexico, where the company got fortuitous shots of an eruption of the newly formed Paracutin, standing in for the volcano Popocatapetl, which was active during Cortez's invasion. One scene was filmed right at the edge of Paracutin's lava beds with the volcano's cone visible in the background, a difficult shoot thanks to the ash clouds that made lighting extremely difficult. Reports claim as many as 4,500 extras were used in that scene, bringing the total number of extras employed on the film to nearly 20,000. Of the film's total 106 days of production, 83 took place in Mexico. The final budget swelled, as Mankiewicz predicted, to more than $4 million, which Variety deemed to be "visible in every inch of the footage."
Alfred Newman's Oscar®-nominated score was one of the earliest movie soundtracks to be released as a full album, a recording rumored to have been completed at his own expense. Newman donated his royalties to the Damon Runyan Cancer Fund and later gave the rights to the film's stirring march theme to the University of Southern California. The school's marching band still regularly plays the music, known as "Conquest."
Some reports say Tyrone Power met his future wife Linda Christian while the two were both in Acapulco, he filming Captain from Castile and she working on Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948). They were introduced there by Power's then romantic interest Lana Turner, but he said he remembered meeting Christian briefly at a party given by his first wife Annabella some years before.
Tyrone Power and Cesar Romero were longtime close friends (and oft-rumored lovers), and prior to their on-set adventures in Mexico, the two made a ten-week trip just after the war through that country and much of Latin America in a twin-engine Beechcraft piloted by Power. Years later, Romero recounted a story of one stop on their tour, a lunch date with Argentine dictator Juan Peron and his world-famous wife, Evita.
Producer: Lamar Trotti
Director: Henry King
Screenplay: Lamar Trotti (screenplay); Samuel Shellabarger (novel)
Cinematography: Arthur E. Arling, Charles G. Clarke; Joseph LaShelle (uncredited)
Art Direction: James Basevi, Richard Day
Music: Alfred Newman
Film Editing: Barbara McLean
Cast: Tyrone Power (Pedro De Vargas), Jean Peters (Catana Perez), Cesar Romero (Hernando Cortez), Lee J. Cobb (Juan Garcia), John Sutton (Diego De Silva), Antonio Moreno (Don Francisco De Vargas), Thomas Gomez (Father Bartolome Romero), Alan Mowbray (Prof. Botello, the astrologer), Barbara Lawrence (Luisa De Carvajal), George Zucco (Marquis De Carvajal).
by Rob Nixon
Captain from Castile
CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE, PRINCE OF FOXES and Others are Featured in the "Tyrone Power: Swashbuckler Box Set" on DVD
The set includes Captain from Castile, a superb epic ripe for rediscovery.
1941's Blood and Sandis a bullfighting film, not a swashbuckler per se. Vicente Blasco Ibáñez' novel is something of a Spanish national epic with its story of the rise and precipitous fall of Juan Gallardo, a famous matador. It has everything: an ambitious poor boy who wants to win back his father's good name; a faithful wife (Linda Darnell), a faithless lover (Rita Hayworth) and a worn old mother (Nazimova) who foresees that her son will meet the same cruel fate as his father.
Blood and Sandis an old story exceedingly well written for the screen by Jo Swerling. Juan seeks fame and honor but never learns to read or write. His faithful retainers (John Carradine, J. Carrol Naish, Pedro de Cordoba) eventually desert him as he becomes more arrogant and irresponsible. As the debts mount, freeloading relatives like Juan's sister Encarnacíon (Lynn Bari) attack his good name. It's even lonelier at the top thanks to the pompous, predatory critic Natalio Curio (Laird Cregar). Curio feeds off the young matador's fame and then pretends that Juan's success is his doing. It's a rather accurate picture of the dishonest critic.
Tyrone Power shows in Blood and Sandthat he can handle serious dramatic roles. Linda Darnell is fresh from The Mark of Zorro and Rita Hayworth is perfect as the Spanish temptress Doña Sol des Muire. She's quite a sight when dancing with Anthony Quinn, who plays a competitor in the bullring. But Ray Rennahan's artful Technicolor cinematography probably distracted viewers from the performances. Director Rouben Mamoulian was always a pioneer in technical matters, and Blood and Sandis a showcase of interesting effects in the 3-strip process. Carmen's white wedding dress contrasts strongly with Doña Sol's alluring gowns. Mamoulian has Hayworth open a dark wrap, exposing a bright dress that lights up the screen like a matador's cape -- a trick used later by Vicente Minnelli in The Band Wagon. Under the Technicolor lights, Power's ornate matador outfits also take on magical hues.
[Spoiler] Blood and Sandretains Ibáñez' fixation on bullfighting as Fate, with the measure of a man determined by how he faces the possibility of death in the afternoon. Mamoulian stages two impressive scenes in the arena but leaves Juan's final confrontation mostly off-screen. By that time Juan has lost all of his friends, even John Carradine's Nacional, a socialist forever swearing to quit the corrupt blood sport. The old matador played by J. Carroll Naish curses not the bulls, but the bloodlust of the crowd that gathers for the ritual slaughter.
Fox's Blood and Sand has received a lucky break from the gods of video restoration. The clear image closely approximates the look of original Technicolor prints, with contrast ranging from inky blacks to the bright gleam in Rita Hayworth's eyes. Perhaps this Oscar winner for Cinematography received special treatment when labs were converting Tech films to normal Eastmancolor. The soundtrack features Alfred Newman's standard score and some great flamenco music. I presume that Ms. Hayworth's singing voice is dubbed, but she sounds very good.
Besides a photo gallery the main extra on Blood and Sand is a commentary by a director of photography, Richard Crudo. He devotes his track to camera-related issues, talks a bit about the Technicolor process and tends to drift onto tangential topics. The way to really learn about Technicolor on DVD is still Turner's fine documentary Glorious Technicolor, included on the special edition disc of The Adventures of Robin Hood. Blood and Sandis considered a textbook film when studying what Technicolor can and cannot do.
Made right at the outbreak of WW2, Son of Fury, the Story of Benjamin Blake is a fine example of Power as the archtype conceived by Darryl Zanuck: a disinherited nobleman fighting to regain his good name and fortune. The surprise is that Philip Dunne's good writing and John Cromwell's assured direction make this formula seem fresh once again.
Young Benjamin Blake (Master Roddy McDowall as a child) is the unrecognized son of the Blake family. Unscrupulous uncle Sir Arthur (George Sanders) takes Ben on as a bonded stable boy to ensure that he can never claim his noble title. As an adult, Benjamin woos Sir Arthur's daughter Isabel (Frances Farmer) and is accused of assault by his uncle, a hanging offense. With the help of a bar girl (Elsa Lanchester) Benjamin escapes to the South Seas, jumps ship with another bitter convict (John Carradine) and lives happily among the Polynesians, harvesting pearls and romancing an island girl that he names Eve (Gene Tierney). Benjamin returns to London with a fortune in pearls and engages lawyer Bartholomew Pratt (Dudley Digges) to recover his title and clear up his legal problem, so he can marry Isabel. Blake is instead arrested; when asked, Pratt disavows any knowledge of him.
The unpretentious Son of Fury is another undeservedly ignored gem. Unlike most swashbuckling heroes, Blake is not invincible. He loses several fistfights and is clubbed for talking back to the Captain of a sailing ship, who goes right on calmly giving instructions to his crew. Blake consistently puts his trust in others, a policy that pays off only 50% of the time.
Darryl Zanuck assembles a quality cast. Elsa Lanchester's good time girl is overjoyed at being treated like a lady by Blake's thoughtful gentleman. John Carradine is a terrific hardened criminal who finds peace and happiness in a South Seas paradise. As Carradine frequently plays villains, Son of Fury seems like a personal reprieve -- it's a joy to see him smile. The high-profile barrister Dudley Digges gets two entire scenes almost to himself. Harry Davenport is Blake's maternal grandfather, who is thrown into prison when Benjamin flees the country.
George Sanders must have loved playing S.O.B.'s, because his dastardly aristocrat is a real stinker. The marvelous Frances Farmer (Come and Get It) dresses up the first part of the picture with her wonderful smile and ambiguous affection for Blake. Also making sparks with Power is Gene Tierney as a Hollywood Polynesian complete with the full Max Factor treatment. She's a vision, and a major impetus for Blake to find a higher value than simply taking his uncle's place in the House of Lords. Son of Fury generates a good feeling about its characters and ends with a romantic reunion on the beach that leaves us feeling exhilarated. When Powers kissed 'em, they apparently stayed kissed.
Son of Fury is in fine shape, giving us John Cromwell's classy masked ball and the studio-bound Polynesian beaches in their original B&W glory. The Alfred Newman score has been isolated, the kind of extra that studios can give us any time, with thanks. The new featurette is an overview of the middle section of Tyrone Power's career, and is the best of the group of short subjects on these discs. Still & advertising galleries and a trailer are included as well.
1948's Captain from Castile is this collection's real dazzler. I wouldn't be surprised if the handlers and agents of Hollywood's top ten male stars see this disc in the next few weeks and propose a remake as a perfect vehicle for their clients. Castile makes Power the central character in nothing less than the Conquest of Mexico and paints a refreshingly non- PC view of La Conquista. Driven from his home by The Inquisition, Pedro de Vargas (Power) heads for Santo Domingo with rogue friends Lee J. Cobb and Jean Peters (in her first movie). There he hooks up with the near-piratical gold-hungry expedition of Hernán Cortez. This is probably the best role ever played by Cesar Romero; his Cortez hijacks the expedition from its lawful leaders and by charisma alone aims straight for Moctezuma's fabled City of Gold. Aztec interpreter Doñ Marina gives Cortez a linguistic advantage over Montezuma's advance guards and ambassadors, enabling him to bluff, bribe and smile his way toward the capitol. Curiously, the expected armed conflicts take place mostly off screen while we concentrate on Pedro's romance with Catana, the Jean Peters character. In what looks like some compromised restructuring, Pedro is gravely wounded in two redundant incidents, while we never see the battles with Moctezuma's armies.
This is perhaps the only film to capture the full spirit of the Spanish conquest. The Conquistadores may be ruthless opportunists but they also have the sheer guts to risk all in a wild quest. Life is short and death can come from almost anything, even a bellyache. Why not go for the big prizes of honor and riches as well as the blessings of God and country? Cortez laughs as he burns his own ships, forcing his men to trust in his grandiose promises of glory. One man's personality motivates an entire army.
The film provides a complex look at class differences and the role of Spain's corrupt Inquisitors. The handling of the Inquisition raises parallels with the American blacklist, but Captain from Castile is a couple of years too soon to have been inspired by the happenings at HUAC. Some viewers may also be surprised that the show does not portray the Aztecs as innocent victims. Cortez successfully conquered a nation that could easily have annihilated him, had it not been intimidated by his horses and his utter self-confidence.
The film benefits from terrific Mexican location work that evokes both Spain and the New World. The costumes and sets are superb; all that is lacking for the modern viewer are elaborate battle scenes. The ending will surprise some, as the story reaches its climax just as the wonders of victory lie before the conquerors, in a vision of a city floating on a lake. A real volcano is seen erupting behind many grand shots of marching armies -- no mattes, no fakery.
Finally, Alfred Newman's score is one of the best Hollywood ever turned out. A weird theme accompanies the Jean Peters character, a choice that's difficult to understand. The exultant Spanish march cue makes one want to jump in the saddle and cabalgar alongside Power and Romero; in 1954 the USC marching band adopted it as the school's official tune.
John Sutton is the hissable villain, Antonio Moreno is Pablo's noble father and Barbara Lawrence (Kronos) is Luisa, a high-toned Castilian girlfriend. When Pablo is sought by the inquisition, Luisa's reaction is to fret that she might be implicated should her handkerchief be found on him. Other notable faces include Alan Mowbray, Thomas Gomez, Marc Lawrence, Jay Silverheels, Chris-Pin Martin and Estela Inda as Doña Marina, Cortez's interpreter and paramour.
Captain from Castile's very good transfer almost captures the original's Technicolor luster. It has no real flaws but the colors in some scenes are on the weak side. A chatty commentary combines critic Rudy Behlmer and music expert Jon Burlingame with moderator Nick Redman; they discuss all of the actors as well as the film's status as one of the biggest productions of its day. The entire Alfred Newman score is provided on its own track, synchronized with cue IDs and conductor comments intact. Audio tracks in French and Spanish are provided but the Spanish track sampled appeared to make use of a different music score. An interview featurette gathers Patricia Neal, Colleen Gray, Terry Moore and Jayne Meadows to comment about their co-star, but soon bogs down in repetitious talk of how handsome and nice Power was. A B&W trailer and still & art galleries finish the package.
Prince of Foxes is yet another intelligent costume drama, one almost too intelligent for American audiences of the time. Power begins the show as Andrea Orsini, an unscrupulous opportunist doing dirty jobs for Cesare Borgia (Orson Welles, in fine form and perhaps at a decent weight for the last time). As an emissary, Orsini paves the way for Borgia to annex a neighboring petty kingdom, using flattery and well-timed bribes. Then Cesare dispatches Andrea to murder Count Verano (Felix Aylmer), woo his wife Camila (Wanda Hendrix, yet another interesting romantic foil for Power) and take their city fortress Cittá del Monte. Orsini is instead redeemed by Camila's fidelity to her husband, and changes sides to defy Borgia's mercenary armies. His only ally is Mario Belli (Everett Sloane), an assassin with the unmistakable face of a complete knave.
The big twist is that Andrea is actually a complete imposter; his mother is a poor peasant named Costanza (Katina Paxinou). Orsini's conversion to the side of goodness is well motivated. His defenders at Cittá del Monte can hold out against Borgia's armies only for so long, leaving him with the bitter choice is to flee or die defending a woman he's never possessed.
The utter ruthlessness of Welles' Borgia is a major delight; when Cesare and Belli chortle over each other's craven villainy, we can't help but be moved. Everett Sloane gets what may be 1949's most sadistic scene: at a fancy dinner, the assassin Belii offers to gouge a man's eyes out with his thumbs, and Camila is forced to watch.
Contributing heavily to director Henry King's success are the authentic locations in Italy. When we see a castle on a hill in this movie, it's the real deal. Most of the castle interiors also look authentic, enhancing the film's special atmosphere. The majority of the supporting characters are Italians but familiar Italian-American Eduardo Ciannelii has a nice bit, along with Mexican looker Ariadna Welter, later of The Brainiac and The Devil's Hand, which starred Tyrone Powers' second wife, Linda Christian. As many viewers have said, if Prince of Foxeswere in color, it would probably be considered a classic.
The print of Prince of Foxes is in great shape, showing off Leon Shamroy's fine B&W cinematography. Alfred Newman's music score is isolated on a second audio track. Besides the expected trailer and photo galleries, the disc offers a Movietone newsreel of Tyrone Power and Linda Christian's Italian wedding ceremony, which took place right after the completion of filming.
The newest picture in the package is 1950's The Black Rose from Thomas B. Costain, the author of The Silver Chalice. This costume picture ranges from England to China during the Crusades and was photographed in Technicolor by the great Jack Cardiff. Power is fine as Walter of Gurnie, a de-classed Saxon who prefers to seek his fortune in the Orient rather than serve a Norman king. Henry Hathaway directs, well enough to surmount some odd script transitions.
The rousing story engages a lively cast. James Robertson Justice is a man of letters, Finlay Currie is Walter's gruff grandfather and a young Laurence Harvey is Walter's mean-spirited half-brother. Michael Rennie is the fair-minded King Edward; this may be the role that landed Rennie the career-altering part of Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. But the film's brightest supporting performance is by Jack Hawkins as Tristram Griffin, a longbow-wielding sidekick who earns equal status with Power in all but the romance department.
On the way to the Far East the adventurers meet a wild mix of character actors. From The Treasure of the Sierra Madre are Alfonso Bedoya as a caravan boss and Robert "Bobby" Blake as a servant boy. Peter Sellers reportedly dubbed a rather weird voice for Bedoya. The presence of these two actors makes us think that The Black Rose's Persian and Chinese desert vistas may have been filmed in Southern California. Herbert Lom is the caravan's owner; but his angles may have been filmed in England separate from the surrounding material.
The film manages a charming love story. The pixie-ish Cécile Aubrey, fresh from H.G. Clouzot's Manon is Maryam, a half-Persian half-English waif being shipped by Caravan as a concubine for the Kubla Khan. Maryam masquerades as a second helper boy. She slowly wins Walter over to her girlish dream -- of marrying a handsome English knight and returning with him to England. It's all handled charmingly.
Meanwhile, Walter and Tris have to contend with an imposing Persian general, Bayan of the Hundred Eyes. Orson Welles plays this barbarian with his usual bombast and hauteur and befriends the two adventurers. Welles is already much heavier than in his previous year's Prince of Foxes. When Tristram shows his skill his longbow "Sarah", Walter decides not to tell the archer that if he misses, Bayan will have his head bashed in. The two friends break up in Cathay after becoming disillusioned by Bayan's war strategy: the general orders his troops to murder thousands of Chinese. Walter and Tris are then captured by the Dowager Empress and locked in a lavish pavilion; she believes that they're magic bird-gods sent from heaven to cast a spell of peace blocking Bayan's onslaught. When the war continues, the future doesn't look good for our heroes and Maryam. But Tris still has his longbow and Walter has been learning about the Chinese secret weapon called gunpowder.
The Black Rose is a fine movie but the disc looks drab compared to old Technicolor prints that sported the magical color contrasts of other films by cameraman Jack Cardiff, like Black Narcissus. It's nobody's fault, unless one expects Fox to commit a multi-million dollar restoration to a film with few commercial prospects. On small monitors the image will look fine, but on a projection TV the show is muddy and colors aren't as attractive as they might be. The film's many matte shots also fare poorly; the entire trip from Arabia to the Great Wall of China seems to be accomplished in front of a painter's canvas, with a little smoke thrown in. Luckily, the close-ups of Power and Cécile Aubrey look fine, and in this adventure the characters carry the story.
The Black Rose has a featurette called Tyrone Power: Family Reunion that gathers relatives like Tyrone Power IV, Taryn Power and Linda Christian on a sofa to discuss the actor's career. It's slow going once we've figured out who's who. An interactive pressbook is rather complicated to access; a still gallery and trailer are also present.
The Tyrone Power: Swashbuckler Box Set celebrates an enormously popular star never afforded much industry respect for his superior acting. Fox has transferred the films as carefully as possible, with only The Black Rose verging on inadequate in the image department. Each slim-cased disc contains an envelope with little collectable postcard - sized stills. The slipcover is a bit on the flimsy side but displays great artwork, as do the individual discs.
For more information about Tyrone Power: Swashbuckler Box Set, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order Tyrone Power: Swashbuckler Box Set, go to TCM Shopping.
by Glenn Erickson
CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE, PRINCE OF FOXES and Others are Featured in the "Tyrone Power: Swashbuckler Box Set" on DVD
In 1950, the University of Southern California adopted composer Alfred Newman's final march from this film; the Trojan marching band plays it after every score and victory. The familiar march is typically called "Conquest".
The film includes the following written acknowledgment: "Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Mexican Government and to the National Museum of Mexico for their advice and cooperation in the reenactment of the historical sequences. All scenes associated with the Cortéz Expedition were photographed in Mexico and wherever possible on the actual locations."
According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, in December 1944 the studio purchased Samuel Shellabarger's novel for $100,000. In February 1945, writer John Tucker Battle wrote a story outline of the novel and by late May, he finished a first draft continuity screenplay in collaboration with Samuel Engel. Between February and July 1945, Zanuck consulted Joseph L. Mankiewicz about the project. In a July 16, 1945 memo Mankiewicz wrote to Zanuck, "The background and very reason for the existence of the book is Cortéz' Conquest of Mexico....Neither Cortéz nor his conquest can be slighted or distorted without offending great numbers of greatly interested people. The Hays Office representatives stressed this very point during my discussion of the novel with them. Perhaps this May be one reason why this fantastically dramatic subject has been one of those often dreamed of, but never realized by our industry...To do this picture ambitiously will cost a great deal of money. It will require Technicolor, a huge cast, great numbers of people, elaborate sets, costumes, props, locations etc. The script will take a long time to write-thorough research will be necessary. Censorship problems should not be too difficult, once a satisfactory substitute for the Inquisition is established." Mankiewicz suggested Tyrone Power as "Pedro de Vargas", Linda Darnell as "Catana", Fredric March as "Cortéz", José Ferrer as "Coatl", Alan Reed or William Bendix as "Juan Garcia" and Morris Carnovsky as "Montezuma". The extent of Mankiewicz's contribution to the completed film has not been determined. After Mankiewicz, the writing assignment then passed to Lamar Trotti who wrote all subsequent drafts of the screenplay and ultimately produced the film.
According to materials in the Fox legal files, also at UCLA, the studio's executive production manager, Ray Klune, spent several weeks in Mexico City in late summer 1946. Dr. Leopoldo Martínez Cosio of the Mexican National Museum was contracted as a consultant and technical advisor on the production, and Klune assigned Ralph De Lara as production coordinator. The studio's legal department sent Emilio C. De Lavigne, along with Marcella Napp, to Mexico and De Lavigne negotiated all the basic union agreements there. According to a November 19, 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item, a train carrying supplies, costumes and equipment, including refrigeration units to protect the sensitive Technicolor film stock, left Los Angeles for Mexico City in early November 1946. In Mexico City, everything had to be loaded onto a fleet of trucks for the journey to Morelia, 350 miles southwest of the capital. The production started filming in late November 1946 in Morelia, the site for Spanish sequences of the film, according to information contained in the Legal Files.
Although Joseph LaShelle and Arthur E. Arling are credited as directors of photography in the Hollywood Reporter production charts, LaShelle is not credited onscreen. In the onscreen credits, Charles G. Clarke and Arling are listed as directors of photography. Modern sources state that while LaShelle was an expert black and white cameraman, his experience with Technicolor and distant locations was minimal, while Clarke was experienced at both and enjoyed Zanuck's confidence. Modern sources have indicated that some of LaShelle's work, probably including a scene at the de Vargas home, remains in the released film. According to one modern source, Arling photographed the second unit material under director Robert D. Webb and Clarke shot all of the interiors done in Los Angeles. A March 1948 American Cinematographer article discusses some of the difficulties of shooting on location in Mexico. Shooting the interior of the temples presented special problems because of cramped lighting conditions and excessive heat.
According to American Cinematographer, the second major location was Uruapan, where the recently active volcano, Paricutin, doubled for Popocatapetl, which was active at the time of Cortéz's invasion. Paricutin was especially active while the company was on location, emitting great clouds of smoke into the air, frequently blotting out the sun's rays and thus interfering with the filming. The last major location was near Acapulco and served as the landing sight and base of Cortéz's expedition. The American Cinematographer article adds that more than 19,500 Mexican and Indian extras were used in the crowd scenes, with as many as 4,500 taking part in the sequence staged at the edge of Paricutin's lava beds. The company returned from Mexico in early March 1947 and studio filming was completed in early April 1947. The shooting schedule totaled 106 days including 83 in Mexico. The Variety review stated the total budget to be around $4,500,000, "visible in every inch of the footage."
The Variety review places John Burton in the cast as "Ignacio de Lora" but this character does not appear in the released film. According to a December 15, 1947 New York Times news item, the Rev. John J. Devlin, Hollywood's representative of the Catholic Church's Legion of Deceny and an advisor to the MPAA on religious matters, warned Fox at the time the novel was purchased that it was not acceptable to the church on the grounds that it depicted the Inquistion as "witch baiting." After discussions with the studio, Devlin deemed the third version of the script acceptable because it toned down the depiction of the Inquisition. The excision of the de Lora character May have been part of the compromise made between Fox and Devlin. In the novel, de Lora, a cruel and corrupt priest, is head of the tribunal that interrogates the de Vargas family and the person who sends Pedro's arrest order to Cuba. An examination of the final screenplay reveals that a brief scene involving de Lora was written and shot but deleted before the film was released. In the film, the character of "de Silva," a nobleman, serves as the chief Inquisitor. Another major difference between the novel and the film is that in the novel, "Pedro" and "Catano" return to Europe and are reunited with his parents before returning to the New World.
Alfred Newman's score for Captain from Castile was nominated for an Academy Award. Newman later recorded the score and donated his royalties to the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund. Newman gave the rights to the film's stirring march to the University of Southern California, to serve as the theme music for the football team. This was Jean Peter's first major role. A radio adaptation of the film was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on February 7, 1949 and starred Cornel Wilde and Jean Peters. Another adaptation, starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., was broadcast on the Screen Directors' Playhouse on May 3, 1951.