In 1700, news that the king of Spain is dying comes to the Spanish outpost in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For some reason, lovely Princess Lucia, the preferred heir, is in this remote location. To get her back to Europe without running afoul of the Viceroy of Mexico (who backs another heir) will require a guide friendly with the Indians: outlaw El Tigre, whom the princess (initially) despises. The highly hazardous journey is made more so by presence of turncoats in the group... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Romantic historical adventures were a dime a dozen during Hollywood's Golden Age but what this 1950s example has going for it over its many competitors are the unusual setting (the Spanish Armada circa 1700) and the central presence of an anti-hero, notorious bandit El Tigre (a role which also provided typecast Jack Palance with his first opportunity to be among the costumed good guys)! His dubious services are deemed essential by Viceroy Rex Reason to enable Princess Barbara Rush's imperiled return home from exile in California to claim her rightful place on the throne of Spain; Palance's no-nonsense pragmatism hardly endears him to an already reluctant ward but, true to formula, they will be whispering sweet nothings into each other's ears before the film's conclusion not that the overly suggestive title left any serious doubt about that occurrence!
What strikes a false chord, however, is the fact that in going away with Palance, she relinquishes her title and presumably agrees to settle into some remote Indian hideout El Tigre has made his home in! That is all very idealistic but hardly convincing given the real stakes at play here...especially when these are bound to be left in the hands of the unreliable Reason and Rush's suddenly loving (read opportunistic) cousin Martha Hyer! Speaking of Reason, he had just worked with director Newman (who, 20 years previously, had been a two-time Oscar winner as Best Assistant Director!) on both their most significant work, the Sci-Fi classic THIS ISLAND EARTH (1955); this fact makes the former's relegation to the second lead once more and, consequently, the latter's potentially backfiring choice to go with bad-guy Palance in the lead, as an even bolder one! Ultimately, for all the modest felicities on offer along the way, one is left with the distinct impression of an unfulfilled promise as if what we have just witnessed was a textbook Swashbuckler with a Western restlessly waiting to break out from under its restrictive surface!
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