1932. The tyrannical and despotic government of President Machado has headed Cuba for seven years. The latest measure of that tyranny is the outlawing of public gatherings of more than four...
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1932. The tyrannical and despotic government of President Machado has headed Cuba for seven years. The latest measure of that tyranny is the outlawing of public gatherings of more than four people, such acts the government deeming treasonous. China Valdés, a young woman who works in an American bank in Havana, is generally non-political. However, she decides to join the revolutionary forces to avenge the murder of her activist brother Manolo - a murder she witnessed - at the hands of the government, the trigger pulled by a police officer she will eventually learn is named Armando Ariete. Her goal is to kill Ariete. Another of the revolutionaries, an American entertainment promoter named Tony Fenner, convinces her to hold off on her assassination, as he believes he has come up with a plan that can wipe out all the major government leaders in one fell swoop. Along with China and Tony, the Chief of the revolutionaries amasses a team of four non-related men - Guillermo, Ramón, Miguel and ... Written by
John Huston wanted a then almost-unknown Marilyn Monroe for a part in this movie. He made it about Cuban rebels at the time Monroe had a contract with Columbia. But producer Sam Spiegel didn't want to spend money for a screen test of Monroe. See more »
This story takes place during the presidency of Gerardo Machado, which ended in 1933; however, China wears torpedo bras, which did not come into fashion until World War II. See more »
This film is an astounding anomaly to Hollywood film-making, in that it is openly supportive of armed revolutionary terrorism, even if it means the death of innocent people. And since it was made in 1949, by Columbia Pictures, just as the Hollywood Blacklist was beginning, it is even more unusual.
The quality of the film is first-ratea taut, well-constructed thriller, with convincing characterizations by the actors and strong direction by John Huston. The fact that it is about Cuba, made 10 years before the victory of the Fidel Castro-led revolutionary forces, is more coincidence.
The revolutionaries are seen as intense fanatics, yes, but each with a justification for their zeal. They are seen as different from each other, occasionally at odds, but essentially united in their purpose. They openly discuss the rights and wrongs of revolutionary violence, and come to a consensus to go ahead.
Jennifer Jones is impressive, as are Gilbert Roland, Pedro Armendariz, and John Garfield. I can't think of another studio-made American feature like this one, worth seeing for both its quality and its unique place in American movies.
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