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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Santiago (1956)

Two rival gunrunners (Alan Ladd, Lloyd Nolan) form an uneasy alliance when they agree to deliver weapons to Cuban revolutionaries fighting the Spanish in late 19th century Cuba. While both are coldly mercenary, when a beautiful young freedom fighter (Rossana Podesta, HELEN OF TROY) enters the picture, she catches their fancy but in different ways. Directed by that generic vet Gordon Douglas (THEM!), this is a routine action adventure, indistinguishable from countless others. The production design is very good. Shot on the soundstages of Warner Brothers but in an impressive realistic jungle set standing in for the Cuban wilds that you'd swear it was the real thing. Ladd looks tired but Lloyd Nolan seems out of his element here. He's a bit old for his role, he's too grandfatherly to be brawling and lusting after Podesta. There's a strange unspoken relationship between Chill Wills as a riverboat captain and Don Blackman as his former slave that makes one give pause. With Royal Dano, Paul Fix and Frank DeKova.

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