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Behold a Pale Horse
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Behold a Pale Horse More at IMDbPro »

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37 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Underrated gem

Author: hitzzen from United States
13 August 2005

This excellent film tells the story of a stubborn Spanish republican, Manuel Artiguez, who refused to give up the fight when his side lost the Spanish civil war to the fascists in 1938. The film takes place twenty years later, when after many successful raids, Artiguez has lost the will to continue. However, his adversary, a Spanish police chief called Vinolas, has not yet given up on capturing or killing him and sets a trap for him. The trap and the question of whether Artiguez will fall into it it will keep you on your seat for most of the movie. Three men caught between Artiguez and Vinolas, an informer, a priest, and an idealistic Spanish exile boy, add a rich psychological and moral dimension to the film, following themes of idealism, revenge, and the uses of violence.

"Behold" is a great thriller with highly complex characters and a profound moral sensibility. The idealism of Spanish republicans like the boy is on the one hand supported by the oily and hypocritical Vinolas, and on the other hand undercut by the rawness and violence of Artiguez. Neither of the adversaries is vindicated, but neither are they equivalent to one another. The ending will set you thinking for hours, if you're so inclined.

Performances by Peck (Artiguez) and Quinn (Vinolas) are great. Peck is less stuffy than usual. I'm not generally a fan of earnest, wet-eyed Sharif (the priest), but his performance here suits the movie quite well. I can still hear his voice saying "Did the informer escape? Is the bandit safe?"

My only complaint is that for all of its thematic complexity and richness of character the film is at times somewhat melodramatic and the dialogue is sometimes a little clunky. And for some reason its parts, good characters, good plot, good actors, all excellent, do not quite add up into a perfect whole. Nor is it as good as some of the movies it slightly resembles: Guns of Navarone, Battle of Algiers, Wild Bunch. However, it is definitely worthwhile for fans of 'thoughtful thrillers'.

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38 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Totally Forgotten...Reasons?

Author: ewarn-1 from United States
11 April 2006

This is a film which has almost faded into total obscurity, and that's tragic, because it's well worth seeing. It's sort of a thinking person's suspense movie, better appreciated if you know some details about the intricate historical background in which it is set. Even so, it can be appreciated for its dramatic settings and characterizations. It has a complicated plot, to be sure, but the story rolls right along...not a lot of action until the end, but the tension builds steadily. I'm no fan of Peck, but his role here really drew me in. He looks beaten down by a hard life and way too much unhealthy passion. Quinn doesn't have much screen time, but I liked some of the minor characters best...their faces were great. The credit sequence, meshed together perfectly with newsreels, shows a long line of defeated soldiers, their faces reflecting defeat and confusion... a great tracking scene.

Here are some reasons I think the film is unknown: 1. The main character is an atheist communist anti-catholic guerilla bandit. Not a popular icon in American movies. 2. Complex historical background. 3. Knowledge of political situation in Spain a minimum requirement. Not a priority on many American's lists. 4. Black and white photography in 1964. (Hey, I liked the scenery...but you always wonder how it would look in color...and this was a late date for a black and white feature film.) 5. Civil War movies (even Spain's) always run a might alienate half the audience.

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18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A great surprise!

Author: Ethan Delaram (luckyethan18) from tehran, Iran
29 August 2003

I get surprise when see that only a few people see this film because I think that it is one of the best zinnemann film.The story which is about alone man that is far from of best years of his life and right now is desolate and subsist in very hard condition(spiritual)is so nice.Peck,Quinn and Sharif all are in their best. Scene that vinolas(Quinn)pray in church is unforgettable.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Paved with good intentions

Author: TrevorAclea from London, England
17 July 2007

One of the few films to deal with the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Behold a Pale Horse is a now completely forgotten but once high-profile well-intentioned failure where you can see the good intentions and valid reasoning behind every misstep. It certainly has pedigree to spare: Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn resuming on screen hostilities after their ruckus on Navarone, a supporting cast including Omar Sharif and Christian Marquand, a screenplay based on a novel by Emeric Pressburger (the wonderfully titled Killing a Mouse On Sunday) and direction by Fred Zinnemann. At its core is an effectively simple idea, with Anthony Quinn's failing local police chief trying to tempt Gregory Peck's legendary Republican bandit across the border into Franco's Spain and right into a trap, with the rebel's dying mother as the bait. But the film wants to be more than a thriller or a simple adventure story and in the process ends up considerably less. The biggest problem is a slow opening half, where Peck is kept deliberately at a distance, seen only through the eyes of a child and filtered through the hatred of Quinn as the film tries to build him into a mythic figure so that when we finally do meet the embittered, grumpy and overly cautious man the void between reputation and reality is that much greater. Unfortunately he's kept at far too much of a distance and the film is just far too low-key and drawn out to really draw us in.

Thankfully the second half is considerably more successful as the moral dilemmas multiply and the story enters Graham Greeneland as the tired, violently atheist hero has to face the betrayal of friends and the help of a priest, although it's not without its absurdities (most notably in a scene in Lourdes where they look for, and find with comical ease, one specific group of priests among thousands). This desperately wants to be a great film, but sadly it rarely manages to be a good one, much as you may appreciate the effort. Those with an eye for trivia might want to note early bit parts from Michel Lonsdale at a reporter in the final scene and an uncredited future producer Claude Berri as well as the involvement of actress Nicole Stephane and writer-director Frederic Rossif in putting together the extremely effective opening montage sequence.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

BEHOLD A PALE HORSE (Fred Zinnemann, 1964) ***

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
15 July 2007

I had been looking forward to this one for some time, due to its rather imposing credentials; it's certainly well-made and acted but also heavy-going, slow and excessively talky.

Gregory Peck is even stiffer and glummer than usual as a washed-out guerrilla fighter; Anthony Quinn is generally more subdued than is customary for him, being effectively cast against type as Peck's nemesis (though his character is completely absent from the film's mid-section); after a belated entrance, Omar Sharif manages to steal the acting honors from under the nose of his more experienced companions by giving a moving portrayal of a conflicted priest. The excellent cast is rounded out by Paolo Stoppa, Christian Marquand, Daniela Rocca, Mildred Dunnock, Rosalie Crutchley and Michel Lonsdale.

Ultimately, the film lacks the touch of greatness – but the unusual subject matter (adapted from an Emeric Pressburger novel) and the surprising but affecting child's eye view it takes of events keep one watching. Furthermore, the climactic assault on the hospital is both suspenseful and exciting and the ever-reliable Maurice Jarre contributes a subtly effective score.

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16 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Gregory Peck Doesn't Believe In Surrendering

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
17 February 2007

In 1939 like John Wayne's Ethan Edwards in The Searchers, Gregory Peck does not believe in surrenders. When all the others give up their weapons and go home, Peck conspicuously keeps his and keeps up the good fight. Of course twenty years later, Peck's become nothing more than a common bandit with the barest trappings of the revolutionary ardor he once had for the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War.

His rival, his Pat Garrett to Peck being Billy the Kid, is the local captain of the Guardia Civil in Anthony Quinn. Peck's constant raids into his border area from France are a source of embarrassment to him and block his chances for advancement. At one time Quinn was a hardened Falangist, but now he's just a policeman.

Twenty years as made a lot of changes in both men. Quinn a devote Catholic who probably joined the fascist forces because of the anti-clerical attitudes of the Republican government now observes the form of religion, but he's got a mistress on the side. When he goes to pray it's not for anything profound, just please let him get Peck so he can advance.

Peck is as anti-clerical as he was during the Spanish Civil War in the late Thirties, but now is really into it a lot for violence's sake. He also knows his cause is long lost, but needs the excuse for what he's now doing. He also gets quite a surprise in finding a priest like Omar Sharif going to warn him about an informer in his crew. Catholics do come in all shapes and sizes.

Although Peck is somewhat miscast as a Spaniard, still he does a good job as does Quinn and Sharif. The strength of Behold a Pale Horse is that it presents both Peck and Quinn as flesh and blood people, neither of them all good or all evil from your point of view.

Behold a Pale Horse was made in 1964 and eleven years later Francisco Franco in whose service Quinn was in died after being dictator of Spain for 36 years. When I visited Spain in 2001 the thing that struck me was how there was very little evidence of Franco's reign. Spain has now settled quite nicely into a constitutional monarchy with a functioning parliament. And the Catholic church which rode as high in Spain as it did during Philip II is rapidly losing influence.

Kind of makes you wonder just what Peck and Quinn were fighting about.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

An excellent movie

Author: Raghavendra Rao from India
12 August 2007

I watched this movie, and like most of the people have already expressed it, must say that this is truly a classic. The acting crew is excellent with Peck, Shariff and Quinn giving some very intense performances. But the surprise package is the boy who crosses over to the French part where he goes in search of Manueal to ask him to avenge his father's death at the hands of Vinollas. I often read comments that Peck is stuff or wooden on occasions, but I find him one of the most intense actors because of his ability to convey through his eyes. Like most actors, he is gifted of conveying a lot more through his eyes than his body might suggest. He conveys the frailing Manuel artigez here very well. We know that Manuel is tired and wary of the struggle he has pursued so passionately. Full credit to Peck for portraying that very effectively. Omar Shariff is also brilliant as the confused priest. Quinn is natural and we feel a certain angst against him, I do not know why. The end is excellent which again, conveys the human side of Manuel very well. All in all, an excellent movie worth watching on a calm Sunday afternoon.

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17 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

aesthetic, psychological, relevant.

Author: wilp from Berlin, Germany
10 February 2001

I saw this film years ago and it made a deep impression (even if my interest in the Spanish War does bias me in its favour); it's on my short list of works to locate and see again. Its treatment of generations and of legacies is as relevant as ever, now that the number of people living who witnessed that upheaval is shrinking fast. The film will move boys (who can identify with one of the main characters) and will not deprave them with violence, the little violence (if I remember correctly) being more suggestive than explicit. A psychological film with some intensely aesthetic moments.

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19 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

A psychological confrontation in an historic background.

Author: Gregori from Barcelona, Catalonia
7 April 2003

When the Spanish War was finished, winners devoted to go after anybody who reflected the red light of the communism or any other color they dislike. On the other hand, few guerilla fighter continued his actions against the winners. But their strength was lower every time. One of this guerrilla was Valentin González "el campesino", which figure is portrayed in this film in a free form (not in an historical form).

Twenty years after the Civil war conclusion, the Spanish police has a good option to capture one of these ex-combatants, who was in exile in France. The description of the methods and day-to-day life of the Spanish police could be the reason which explains that the Spanish Government forbade any more Columbia's film in Spain.

You need no knowledge about the twenty Century Spain's history to understand the film, although you can enjoy more it if you know something. In fact, the film put in a specific political situation the psychological confrontation between two men. It could be a good exercise to understand the motives which impulse his actions.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Sensational film that was banned in Spain dealing with a Republican war veteran who returns Spain

Author: ma-cortes
1 August 2010

Intelligent and magnificent film by the great director Fred Zinnemann . It deals with "Manuel Artíguez" (Gregory Peck), he is a popular "maqui" or partisan who after the Spanish Civil War, left the country such as hundreds of comrades to take refuge in France. Twenty years later, "Paco" , a 11 years kid , and son of his best friend passes the Spanish border to ask him for return to Spain and murder the Captain of the Civil Guard, "Viñolas" (Anthony Quinn), in revenge for the death of his father. Artíguez, a resident in the city of Pau is nowadays retired and ignores the request of the boy . But, "Pilar" (Mildred Dunnock) mother of "Artíguez" falls seriously ill, and "Viñolas" decides to prepare a trap that allows capture "Artíguez" . Although a good priest (Omar Sharif) advises Manuel that he's being double-crossed by Carlos (Raymond Pellegrin), Manuel determines to return at whatever cost.

Picture inspired by the novel "Killing a mouse on Sunday" by Emeric Pressbuguer in which the personages undergo a physical wage war and ideological battle in post-Spanish Civil War . At the beginning displays frames of the documentary "Morir en Madrid," with opening montage by courtesy by Frederic Rossif. The film was shot in Franstudio, Saint-Maurice, Val-de-Marne, France and Lourdes, Hautes-Pyrénées, France . There was built a Spanish street that followed once time was terminated the shooting . Pressburger's novel was loosely based on the last raid of real-life anarchist guerrilla Antonio Sabate who was murdered in an ambush in 1959.

This film is almost unknown since it was banned in Spain for its politics issues until subsequent exhibition in 1979. The movie was prohibited in Spain, which was still commanded by Generalissimo Francisco Franco (deceased in 1975), the victorious General of the Spanish Civil War . And it was scheduled to be telecast on a major American network, but was canceled at the last minute, allegedly at the behest of the Spanish government. Fortunately today we can enjoy this splendid masterpiece , a motion picture masterfully realized and played with a top-notch list of first players . The performers hand perfectly their respective characters . The "Manuel" role in his bitterness and deception is awesome , as well as the "Viñolas" in his toughness and rudeness . Furthermore , a large secondary cast formed by veterans as Mildred Dunnock and Paolo Stoppa ; and brief roles by Daniela Rocca ,Jose Luis Villalonga, Claude Berri , Michael Lonsdale, Christian Marquand and Rosalie Crutchley as the ill wife.

This is an interesting and thought-provoking thriller well produced by Alexander Trauner ( also production designer) and Zinnemann . It packs tension , high intrigue , political events and is slow-moving ; however is pretty entertaining . In spite of the fact that the runtime is overlong, is neither tiring , nor dull , but thrilling . The motion picture is stunningly directed by Fred Zinnemann who had a lot of experience from his former classic films as ¨High Noon, From here to eternity, Man for all seasons ¨, among them. Rating : Very Good , better than average. In spite of being such fine movie the picture had a minor success at the box office . Rating : Above average . Essential and indispensable watching , valiant try by all.

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