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Monday, September 19, 2016

The Pride And The Passion (1957)

Set in the early 19th century during the Napoleonic wars as France occupies Spain. A British naval captain (Cary Grant) is sent to find a massive abandoned cannon and prevent it from falling into French hands. But he finds himself at odds with a band of Spanish guerrillas headed by a peasant (Frank Sinatra) who insist the cannon belongs to them and is to be used to liberate the city of Avila. Based on the novel THE GUN by C.S. Forester and directed by Stanley Kramer. Although the film is usually dismissed if not reviled, it's my second favorite Kramer film (as a director) after IT'S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD. One reason is that we're not being preached at or hit over the head with a lecture. Also, like IAMMMMW, it's visually interesting. Kramer is one of the least interesting directors visually, his films tend to be talking heads movies. This one is gorgeously shot by Franz Planer (BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S) in VistaVision. Kramer's intention was to make an epic and he falls short but it's not for lack of trying with its cast of thousands! The casting is off too. When we see Grant in a knife fight with Jose Nieto, it almost seems surreal. Cary Grant in a knife fight? Still he fares better than Sinatra who's unconvincing as a Spanish peasant with a piss poor accent to boot. Wasn't Anthony Quinn or Ricardo Montalban available? Fortunately there's the spectacular Sophia Loren whose flamenco is a highlight of the movie. Perhaps a bit turgid but never boring. There's a killer score by George Antheil. With Theodore Bikel and Jay Novello.    

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