Using a letter of introduction from Queen Isabella's former confessor, Christopher Columbus gains access to the Spanish court where he tries to convince authorities of the practicality of his proposed voyage to reach to Far East by sailing west. Court intrigue and the efforts of Francisco de Bobadilla, whose financial interests would be hurt by Columbus' success, are roadblocks to the voyage, but the navigator perseveres and ultimately prevails. Written by
Opening narration perpetuates the myth that people of Columbus' time thought the Earth was flat when in fact they knew it was spherical. Later, when Columbus discusses his plan with Father Perez and another friar, the friars clearly know that the world is round. See more »
[as he and Diego observe a native smoking tobacco]
Doesn't that prove how backward they are? You never see a civilized man do that.
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Faithful but "flat", uninspired telling of the Columbus adventure...
I'd always pictured CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS as an adventurous young man, but here he's played by the very stoic FREDRIC MARCH in the prime of middle-age. Why is it March always seemed too old for all of his major roles, beginning with ANTHONY ADVERSE.
This is a very respectable version of the Columbus story, but a bit plodding and dull when it should come to life with more vigor. There's an almost textbook quality about the script that takes forty-five minutes to set Columbus on his voyage after much confrontational verbal exercises at the Spanish court with Queen Isabella (FLORENCE ELDRIDGE) and FRANCIS L. SULLIVAN as a nobleman who opposes the voyage. Strangely enough, this portion of the film is the most interesting.
Production values are splendid but there's a muted quality to the color of the TCM print I viewed. FREDRIC MARCH is competent in the title role, but never quite assumes the mantle of the courageous and determined leader of men with his daring new ideas. It's easy to see why his crewmen become skeptical and suspicious midway during the voyage. Their growing doubts are understandable after so many days at sea.
Summing up: Interesting enough but would have been a more successful film with a more vital performer in the title role rather than the uninspired portrayal of its tired looking leading man whose work here is rather pallid.
For all the attempts to bring it to life, it remains a "flat" version rather than a fully rounded one.
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