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 »
Amazingly radical, pro-revolutionary Hollywood film
This has to be the most radical, left wing film ever made in Hollywood. It is amazing that Huston and some of the other principals were not blacklisted afterwords; the McCarthy era was well underway in 1949 when the film was released. (Garfield was blacklisted, but not as a result of this particular film.)
This is a taut, suspenseful, exciting movie. But what stands out for me is that the central theme and focus of the story is the "need" to dedicate one's life to the overthrow of a dictatorship by whatever means necessary. I've never seen an American film so uncompromisingly pro-revolutionary. The heros of the film are guerrilla warriors planning a bombing that will kill dozens or hundreds of innocents along with lots of deserving government officials.
One significant drawback to this film is it's very extensive use of process photography, shooting the principal actors against background film shot on location. Whole scenes are shot this way and it's distracting.
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