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A simple peasant is forced to take up arms to defend his farm during the Spanish Civil War. Along the way he falls in love with Russian whose father is involved in espionage. Written by
Herman Seifer <email@example.com>
The original title of this film was "The River is Blue" and the original director was to be Lewis Milestone. Kurt Weill even wrote music for the original project that was never used (lyrics by 'Ann Ronell)'. The title was changed to "Castles in Spain," then to "Blockade." The topic of the Spanish Civil War was politically sensitive and there is some hint that the upheavals of the original project were due to the political content of the film. See more »
[last lines, after being told to find peace]
Marco: Peace? Where can you find it? Our country's been turned into a battlefield! There's no safety for old people and children. Women can't keep their families safe in their houses; they can't be safe in their own fields! Churches, schools, hospitals are targets! It's not war; war is between soldiers! It's murder! Murder of innocent people! There's no sense to it. The world can stop it! Where's the conscience of the world?
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To paraphrase the late great Father Coughlin's jibe at the Roosevelt government's provision of "relief that failed to relieve", this inept film on the Spanish Civil War provided propaganda that failed to propagandize. That, at least to this viewer, is the only thought that lingered after suffering through almost 90 minutes of Blockade. I say this with a great deal of reluctance because I have always considered myself a great fan of both the principals of this film, Madeleine Carroll and Henry Fonda, but, alas, not even these two cinematic greats could salvage this bummer. In my quest to apportion blame I suppose the the script writer, a certain John Henry Lawson, is as good a place as any to start. The clunky lines he puts in the mouth of Fonda, a peasant hero of the so-called "republican" cause--particularly his closing monologue--are grounds for confinement in the most austere of labor camps courtesy of his obvious favorite, Comrade Joseph Stalin. I was especially struck by the tepidity of the romantic interludes with the beautiful Carroll, suggesting that a proletarian partisan like Mr. Lawson has little feeling for the more sublime side of human emotions. All of this I could excuse if Blockade offered anything approaching effective political propaganda if that was what it offered; but, at the risk of being tedious, that was precisely where it failed the most.
For political propaganda that both entertains and persuades, let me suggest Casablanca. For political propaganda that offers only a few glimpses of the radiant Madeleine Carroll and nothing more, I recommend Blockade. That, unfortunately, is not enough to salvage this less than scintillating 1930s leftist pap.
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