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In 1909, Emiliano Zapata, a well-born but penniless Mexican Mestizo from the southern state of Morelos, comes to Mexico City to complain that their arable land has been enclosed, leaving them only in the barren hills. His expressed dissatisfaction with the response of the President Diaz puts him in danger, and when he rashly rescues a prisoner from the local militia he becomes an outlaw. Urged on by a strolling intellectual, Fernando, he supports the exiled Don Francisco Madero against Diaz, and becomes the leader of his forces in the South as Francisco 'Pancho' Villa is in the North. Diaz flees, and Madero takes his place; but he is a puppet president, in the hands of the leader of the army, Huerta, who has him assassinated when he tries to express solidarity for the men who fought for him. Zapata and Villa return to arms, and, successful in victory, seek to find a leader for the country. Unwillingly, Zapata takes the job, but, a while later, he responds to some petitioners from his ... Written by
Anthony Quinn had played Stanley Kowalski in the road tour of Tennessee Williams' play "A Streetcar Named Desire", and some critics thought he was better than Marlon Brando, who had originated the part. None of this was lost on Elia Kazan, who liked to foster competition between his actors if it was appropriate. On set, the competitive Quinn and Brando, who both liked and respected each other, bonded like the brothers they played. Ironically, Kazan had initially proposed Jack Palance, whom he had introduced in his earlier Panic in the Streets (1950), for the role of Zapata. Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck countered by offering Palance the role of Zapara's brother. The unhappy Palance then negotiated himself out of his Fox contract. Ironically, Palance had understudied Quinn in the road company version of "Streetcar," and when he was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Sudden Fear (1952), he was beaten by Quinn in "Zapata." See more »
When Zapata rides away across the plaza after a confrontation, his pistol falls out of his holster without his noticing. See more »
This film is one of my favorites. I remember vividly seeing this film as a high school student. I was impressed with it then and am impressed with it today. It's still wonderful...but, then, why shouldn't it be? The performances of Brando, Peters, Quinn, Wiseman and others is still breathtaking, but Quinn and Brando steal the show from the get-go. This is one of Brando's finest roles and while Quinn always outdoes himself (even in that god-awful Walk in the Clouds), he IS Eufemio Zapata. There are few reviews here of this film and one reviewer has completely missed the point, but no matter. The film stands on its own and there's always someone to complain at excellence. This script came from none other than Steinbeck and the photography and background is likewise excellent. Is it accurate historically? Well, there are a few embellishments but the thrust of the film is not marred by any deviations from recorded history. This is portrayal of a people's struggle, one which continues today and doesn't pretend to be a chronicle of the actual events that took place in Mexico. As a film, this stands on its merit as a superb work of art. The acting is wonderful. While one reviewer found the music to be like the kind you hear while eating a combination plate on Olvera Street in LA, I might point out, that's what Mexican music is. Rent this film. While it is listed as not being available, I rented it recently and watched it again, for the nth time, as indeed, I plan to watch n times again.
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