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Spain, 1518: young caballero Pedro De Vargas offends his sadistic neighbor De Silva, who just happens to be an officer of the Inquisition. Forced to flee, Pedro, friend Juan Garcia, and adoring servant girl Catana join Cortez' first expedition to Mexico. Arriving in the rich new land, Cortez decides to switch from exploration to conquest...with only 500 men. Embroiled in continuous adventures and a romantic interlude, Pedro almost forgets he has a deadly enemy... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gentlemen, this time last year we were fighting mosquitos in swamps, accepting paltry gifts, and half-starving. But now we stand knocking at the very door of the great Emporer Moctezuma. We shall meet with His Majesty face-to-face - have done with ambassadors and specks of gold. This, gentlemen, is just the beginning!
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The Spanish inquisition and the invasion of Cortez into Mexico...Henry King style!
A film firmly split in two halves, Captain From Castile may over stretch its aims on the page at times, but the sweepingly gorgeous texture is quite something to behold. Tyrone Power takes up the lead role of Pedro De Vargas and firmly cements his star status with a wonderful performance, handsome and brave, he carries the film easily on its joyous course from Spain to Mexico, whilst stoic male support comes from Cesar Romero (Cortez), Lee J. Cobb (Juan Garcia), and John Sutton (Diego De Silva). Head female duty falls to a vibrantly young Jean Peters (in her film debut) as Catana Perez, pretty and beguiling, her gorgeous green eyes shining bright in this Technicolor spectacle, she is the perfect foil to Power's dash and swagger.
Production costs are thought to have been over $4 million, yet even though the film sadly lost money, the money spent is still evident at every turn and it proved to be very popular with critics and film lovers alike. Director Henry King wonderfully utilises the panoramic vistas of the Mexican locale and the costumes come right out of the top draw, but one of the most striking things in this magnificent production is the score from Alfred Newman. Stirring and emotionally hard, it has to rank as one of the best scores to have ever been composed. I strongly recommend the isolated score option on the excellent Region 1 DVD. It's a far from perfect film for sure (the no battle pay-off at the finale is a great disappointment), but the harking back to old historical days of yore can induce a tingle on the spine, and in that respect the piece delivers handsomely. Just like its leading man ironically enough. 8/10
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