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In the eighteenth century, a Spanish expedition is looking for seven cities of gold in a territory now known as California. A very difficult task due the opposition of the aborigines, but perhaps a divine intervention could help the Spaniards to save the life. Written by
Luis Carvacho <email@example.com>
There's a mixture of interesting drama and camp in this story of Spanish conquest over California Native Americans. Egan and Quinn play Spanish officers who are on the lookout for the title cities, but who are saddled with priest Rennie who is along for the ride to build a mission. The men don't see eye to eye on how to handle the "Indian problem" and this lends itself to some nice discussion of and demonstration of the tactics used to control them. Eventually, the human elements of both the "whites" and the Indians begin to blend, but not without difficulty and eventually with great sacrifice. Contemporary audiences will be surprised that Egan is top-billed over Quinn and has the more substantial role. Even though Quinn is the authority figure in charge, the story is more about Egan. Quinn is believable as a Spaniard (as he was as so many other nationalities in his career!), but Egan is about as Spanish as William Bendix!! His flat American accent and obviously non-Latin coloring create a sensory paradox when he is onscreen. Rennie is also far from Spanish, but manages to pull it off better with a less distinct accent. All three male leads do a decent enough job acting-wise, but never really catch fire. The only other performers of note are Hunter and Moreno as natives. Hunter gives his usual impassioned performance (unfortunately covered in war paint most of the time) in one of many roles that were beneath his ability. Moreno gets very little to do, but tries to inject some emotion into the proceedings. While the Cinemascope lens captures some awesomely beautiful scenery, it also keeps the actors at a distance. Time and again, dramatic and emotional moments are played in practically long shots! There are very few close-ups in the movie. The two most beautiful cast members (Hunter and Moreno) get nothing closer than a two-shot. This puts a sort of wall up that detracts from the emotional investment in the story. Then there's the camp factor. It begins immediately with a hilarious voice-over that exclaims how accurate the story is and that the only change that was made is that the "words will be set in English." PLEASE! Moreno and Hunter, while compelling performers, are given ridiculous wigs and clothing to wear. Attempts at humor, handled adeptly by Hunter, seem to add a corny aspect to the otherwise serious film. There's a bizarre interlude with Egan and Rennie finding shelter in a sandstorm. The sword-and-sandal crowd may find themselves trying to spot Egan's winky as it veers to the left in his clingy green trousers (with oh-so-festive red cummerbund.) In all, it's a pretty, sometimes engaging movie, but rather silly at times and lacking any real emotional resonance.
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