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Bullfighter Juan Gallardo falls for socialite Dona Sol, turning from the faithful Carmen who nevertheless stands by her man as he continues to face real danger in the bullring.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
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`Blood and Sand' based on the novel by Ibanez and presented by 20th Century-Fox is a masterpiece of old style Hollywood filmmaking. Director Rouben Mamoulian pulls out all the stops to present this Technicolor flushed romantic story of Juan Gallardo who is portrayed by the impossibly beautiful Tyrone Power. Juan grows from a poor boy dreaming of glory in the bullrings of Spain to the epitome of arrogance and ignorant of the cost to his soul of his fame. The three principals of the story are, Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell as his childhood sweetheart Carmen, and Rita Hayworth as the seductive and hollow Dona Sol. Tyrone Power presents us with a marvelous, energetic portrait of a young, brash and over confident Juan. His first close-up bursts the edges of the screen and burns in the colors of Goya. Tyrone Power was made for the movies and cinematographers Ernest Palmer and Ray Rennahan film him with as much care as they do the two female leads. Thus this overpoweringly beautiful close-up sucks the viewer into the world of Juan and one is swept away by his charm and bravado. Mr. Powers's performance is almost overshadowed at first by his physical presence but as the story progresses his talent as a film actor takes over and sustains the viewer to the end.
Linda Darnell, a great beauty of the movies and by her own admission, not much of an actress, turns in a very good performance as Juan's discarded wife Carmen. I do not agree with Miss Darnell's opinion of her talents. One only has to look at `Letter to Three Wives' to see what an accomplished screen actress she was. And here too she takes the thankless roll of Carmen and makes one care about the poor girl. Then we have Rita Hayworth who here in `Blood and Sand' sets the standard for the great-lost beauties of the silver screen. Her Dona Sol is everything we hope for in the empty shell of a femme fatal. It is said of her, at one point in the film by a newspaper critic of bullfighting, as he points to the ring: `Gentleman, if this is death in the afternoon, then she is death in the evening.' And Miss Hayworth lives up to every inch of his description in this her breakout performance.
In the garden scene where she performs the `Toro!' seduction and sings to her victim Juan, she is utterly captivating and irresistible in her Travis Banton gown and cascading titian hair. Here we see the birth of Rita Hayworth and the demise of Rita Cansino. Also worth mentioning are Anthony Quinn as one of Juan's boyhood friends, Manola De Palma and the wonderful silent star Alla Nazemova who is heart breaking as Juan's mother. The music by the masterful Alfred Newman sets the tone and emotion of the film. Lush and full of the sounds of Spain it is one of his best.
Darryl Zanuck believed that story was everything in film. Without a good story you had nothing to build a film on. In `Blood and Sand' the head of Fox proves his point and gives us a great movie presented in the grand style of Hollywood's golden age.
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