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Edwin L. Marin
Plot-- A peasant rebel fighting against Mexico's government in the early 1900's is separated from the main force and seeks to rejoin them with the 1000 rifles they need. But the only way he can finance the rifles is by returning to the boxing ring.
Oddball movie adapted from a Jack London story. I expect London's version gels better than the film, though the latter does have its moments. Unfortunately, the boxing sequences are typical Hollywood hokum in which blockbuster punches never miss nor is defense ever practiced. I guess that's because missed round-houses and defensive jabbing lack drama while film is expensive. Nonetheless, photographer Howe (and perhaps uncredited Crosby) alternate camera angles in unusual and compelling fashion that keep the viewer interested.
Too bad, IMDb doesn't report where the Mexican scenes were filmed, because the grimy hovels and city streets look authentic as heck. I wish I could say the same for the clumsy exterior backdrops that mar some scenes, but at least they're not over-used. Still, there are several darn near sublime scenes. That's when the camera suddenly drops us behind the lovers sitting seaside. In contrast to the movie's high-key lighting, this is a poetic night world in which the lovers appear to contemplate a noirish eternity that stretches out before them. To me, these are the movie highlights.
As an old movie fan, I'd never heard of this 1952 indie entry. Moreover, I expect it got crushed by the same year's release of Marlon Brando's Viva Zapata. Then too, I expect political lefties like actor Cobb, writer Kandel, and director Kline were drawn to the politically charged material. Unfortunately, for them and maybe the film too, the McCarthy purges of Hollywood lefties was gaining momentum. So likely a cheap indie like this didn't get much distribution, nor do I recall it showing up on a late show in film-conscious LA.
That fine actor Conte manages in the lead role, while Cobb's out-sized presence fits that of a revolutionary leader. Nonetheless, the conflicting sides are made up of stereotypes, right down to the well-scrubbed peasant women and the cruel Federales. All in all, the 70-minutes has an interesting look to it. Yet the parts do shift back and forth erratically, failing ultimately to merge into anything memorable.
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