6.1/10
302
9 user 3 critic

Seven Cities of Gold (1955)

In 1769, a Spanish expedition to California seeks to conquer the land and discover its famed gold treasures while missionaries aim to gain new converts and establish a network of Catholic missions.

Director:

Robert D. Webb

Writers:

Richard L. Breen (screenplay), John C. Higgins (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Richard Egan ... Jose Mendoza
Anthony Quinn ... Capt. Gaspar de Portola
Michael Rennie ... Father Junipero Serra
Jeffrey Hunter ... Matuwir
Rita Moreno ... Ula
Eduardo Noriega ... Sergeant
Leslie Bradley ... Galves
John Doucette ... Juan Coronel
Víctor Junco ... Lt. Faces
Julio Villarreal ... Pilot Vila (as Julio Villareal)
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Storyline

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 <lcarvach@lascar.puc.cl>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

This is the story of the making...and the forging...of California...when men chose gold or God...the sword or the Cross! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA | Mexico

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 February 1956 (Belgium) See more »

Also Known As:

The Gun and the Cross See more »

Filming Locations:

Topanga Canyon, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Color by Deluxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Studio publicity material credited René Cardona as co-director and Jorge Stahl Jr. as Lucien Ballard's camera operator, but it is unknown if they ever worked on this picture and likely that they had been only hired to make sure union requirements were fulfilled. See more »

Goofs

Two historical characters' names were misspelled: Faces should have been Fages; and Galves should have been Galvez. See more »

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User Reviews

 
SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD (Robert D. Webb, 1955) ***
14 April 2011 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Although coming from a different stable (Twentieth Century Fox as opposed to Universal), this historical epic is in the same vein as the contemporaneous KISS OF FIRE (released just a fortnight after this one and my review of which can be accessed elsewhere) but emerges a decidedly more satisfactory movie. For one thing, to the common Spaniards vs. Indians scenario this adds both mythical and mystical elements that render the mixture a thought-provoking one. The former is represented by the ultimately fruitless search for the legendary titular golden kingdoms while the latter applies to Michael Rennie's fine portrayal of crippled but single-minded Jesuit missionary, Fr. Junipero Serra – a real-life figure who was recently beatified by The Vatican and is on his way to becoming a saint!

Despite boasting a notable cast and being a major Hollywood studio 'A' production, this offbeat and worthwhile adventure seems to have literally fallen through the cracks of time because, 14 years into the format, there is still no sign of it ever getting released as a legitimate Widescreen DVD nor, apparently, has it ever been shown on the "Fox Movie Channel" because the copy I landed was sourced from a serviceable but washed-out pan-and-scan VHS! This state of events does not do justice to Lucien Ballard's De Luxe cinematography but, on the other hand, neither exactly does the pedestrian direction from Robert D. Webb – also a previous winner of the Best Assistant Director Oscar for IN OLD CHICAGO (1937) – to its colorful subject; nowhere is this more evident than during a fanciful and thoroughly unexpected sequence (a Bunuelian moment if ever I saw one!) in which The Holy Family unaccountably offer hospitality to Rennie and Richard Egan when they are dispersed in a desert storm!

That the film still remains a superior product (despite bogging down somewhat during the indigenous scenes) is down to the cast: apart from Rennie's monk, as already mentioned, there is top-billed Egan as the hot-headed but, ultimately, self-sacrificing lieutenant of the Spanish conquistador heading the expedition led by Anthony Quinn; the latter, then, is remarkably restrained but undeniably commanding, and well on his way to acquiring star status for himself (which he had mostly enjoyed abroad up to that time!), and also on hand are Jeffrey Hunter (making a belated entry – completely covered in paint, and wigged- out, at that! – as the new Indian chief) and Rita Moreno (as Hunter's sister and Egan's tragic love interest). Incidentally, not only had director Webb already worked with Hunter on a fine Western WHITE FEATHER (1955; where he also portrayed an Indian!) and would soon do so again on the even better THE PROUD ONES (1956)...but, given this film's religious overtones, it is telling that all 4 leads here had been or would subsequently be involved in Biblical epics! Interestingly, Edward Dmytryk was originally announced as director on this one with Cameron Mitchell in the lead; besides, the actual crew members included assistant cameraman Jorge Stahl Jr. (he would be Luis Bunuel's cinematographer on his delightful jungle adventure DEATH IN THE GARDEN the following year) and co-director(!) Rene' Cardona (best-known as the prolific exploitation film-maker behind such infamous fare as SANTA CLAUS {1959} and NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES {1969})!


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