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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 <email@example.com>
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It is my understanding that this Hollywood adaptation of Samuel Shellabarger's book enraged the author so much that he put some kind of legal injunction against the Hollywood producers that prevented them from making the video and other profits for 50 years! The reason: The film stops half-way through the novel!
I love historical fiction and Shellabarger along with Raphael Sabatini (The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood) are my favorite authors of historical adventures.
In spite of Shellabarger's attitude to Hollywood, I was delighted to see this film. I only wish they could have made the whole book come to life, because the action and plot are much more intense in the second half of the book -- especially when Cortez has returned to lay siege to the Aztec city. Shellabarger reads very much like Bernal Diaz, a common soldier under Cortez who wrote a history of the Conquest of Mexico. Diaz's and Shellabarger's description of the fighting on the Aztec aqueducts is the most intense and desperate battle literature I have ever read!
I think this film should be remade as soon as possible and give the viewing audience the whole story. Of course, there will never be another Tyrone Power, Jean Peters or Cesar Romero, but do it anyway -- and use Alfred Newman's original music score (adopted by the USC Trojans as their own "Conquest" march), and let Newman's son and nephew add the remainder of the score! With today's high-tech special effects this story would surpass "Gladiator" in splendor, spectacle, and action if Shellabarger was followed religiously and completely. Shellabarger deserves the same fidelity that J.R.R. Tolkein has received from the New Zealand producers of "Lord of the Rings."
In spite of its shortcomings to the author, I have loved this film for half a century! It is my favorite classic film. I fell in love with Jean Peters as Catana when I was only six years old in 1950; which is when I first saw the film. The "Catana" Love Theme has played in my head from time to time ever since! Now I have it on video, thank God. My every guest gets offered a viewing of it; as well as a listen to its soundtrack by Newman.
What more can I say? The film, like the book, struck a chord in me that refuses to stop playing.
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