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In 1909, Emiliano Zapata, a well-born but penniless Mexican Indian from a remote province, 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 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 own village with... Written by
This is a pretty good 1950's action/drama considering Elia Kazan had never before or never would again direct an action movie. It's almost like a Western except the setting is the second decade of the 20th century between the years of 1910-1919. Marlon Brando is Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata in a role that earned him an Academy Award nomination. Brando is paired once again with Kazan who directed him the year before in A Streetcar Named Desire and would pair with him a couple of years later in Brando's Oscar winning performance in On the Waterfront. This film is well photographed by Mexican born cinematographer Joe Macdonald who should have been nominated for an Oscar but wasn't. In a rare role for Mexican born Anthony Quinn to be actually playing a Mexican as Eufernio Zapata for which he won the Academy Award for Best supporting Actor for 1952. Quinn's first nomination of four in his career and his first win of two. The film received three other nominations for Art Direction, Music and for it's John Steinbeck written Screenplay. This film is pure Hollywood however and is largely a fictional portrayal of actual events in it's romanticizing tale of one of Mexico's most beloved heroes Zapata. Despite the story by Steinbeck the dialog is weak. It's a good movie but Kazan is out of his element here, Brando is miscast and Steinbeck is lazy. I would give it a 7.5 out of 10.
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