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Bullfighter Juan Gallardo falls for socialite Dona Sol, turning from the faithful Carmen who nevertheless stands by her man as he continues to face real danger in the bullring. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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When 20th Century Fox decided to re-make Rudolph Valentino's great silent screen triumph Blood and Sand it probably was Tyrone Power's biggest test as an actor and a box office draw up to that time.
Valentino's performance was still fresh in everyone's mind. Well, Tyrone Power passed the test with flying colors that showed up in Ray Rennahan's fabulous cinematography here.
One of the previous reviewers who was from Brazil expressed a lot of what I would have said. Tyrone Power with three roles, here, in The Mark of Zorro and in Captain From Castile became a Latino cultural hero for those portrayals. Hard to believe since the Power family theatrical tradition goes back a couple of centuries in Ireland. But those portrayals have stood the test of time and to get such an accolade from a Latino viewer is the highest possible praise for his acting.
Tyrone Power as Juan Gallardo whose mission in life is to become an even greater Matador than his father who was killed in the bullring, brings a combination of panache and bumptiousness to the part. He's bold and daring, but not terribly sophisticated and never learned to read and write. And he's got two women all in an uproar over him, Linda Darnell who is his wife and the temptress Dona Sol.
This loan out for Rita Hayworth playing Dona Sol is what really launched her career as sex symbol. Dona Sol was Hayworth's trial run as vamp and temptress, the forerunner of Gilda which was her signature part.
The cast is well populated with some of the best character actors Hollywood had to offer. Anthony Quinn, Nazimova, J. Carrol Naish, Monty Banks, John Carradine, etc., all are perfectly cast.
One I think should be singled out is Laird Cregar. Cregar plays Curro the bullfighter critic and I think Cregar enjoyed playing this part, allowing an actor to exact some revenge on critics as a breed. Bullfighting isn't just some guy going into a ring to kill a bull. It's all in the showmanship and Curro is a critic like a theater critic, not a sportswriter. You really love to hate Curro as the film progresses and I wonder just what made him such an expert? Cregar was fleshing out that old expression about critics being eunuchs, they know how to do it, but can't do it themselves. I think Cregar was paying back every critic whoever gave him a bad review with this one.
Blood and Sand was certainly a jinxed picture. Tyrone Power died so young of that heart attack while shooting Solomon and Sheba in Spain, Linda Darnell died a few years later in a house fire trying to rescue someone she thought trapped in the flames, George "Superman" Reeves who played one of Rita Hayworth's admirers committed suicide, Rita Hayworth had that tragically lingering Alzheimer's Disease and Laird Cregar was the first to go of a heart attack in his twenties. Another great work of art attached to so much tragedy.
As far as I'm concerned Rudolph Valentino starred in the silent version of Tyrone Power's, Blood and Sand.
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