Appropriate attention to detail is characteristic of this powerful, well-cast, and well-made melodrama with the action pivoting about a San Diego based Spanish Basque family, skillfully directed by Basque Mexican Gregory Nava and featuring effectual contributions from many members of the cast and crew. Two of cinema's ablest and most intense actors, William Hurt (who partially researched his role at the Center For Basque Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno) and Timothy Hutton, perform here as brothers-in-law obliged by one's iniquity to resolve their fateful conflict with violence, while other singular performances come from Melissa Leo, Stockard Channing, and Megan Follows as siblings of the Larraneta family, and Francisco Rabal is impressive as paterfamilias of the clan. A potent scenario emphasizes love and revenge as primary emotions within a creatively edited work noteworthy for its brilliant cinematography and montage by Nava as well as director of photography James Glennon, the action shot principally in Croatia, Trieste, and southern California. Suspense, an essential element of any genre, permeates the film, extending from its opening scenes to a Hitchcockian flavoured climax, enhanced throughout by Hurt's dynamic reading and by finely wrought episodic Ennio Morricone scoring. Costumes of Durinda Wood, set designs by Anne Kuljian, and the first-rate production designing of Henry Bumstead (who also plays several pages as an army Colonel) are united in the accurate recreation of 1942/5 San Diego as well as war battered Italy, and pre-war autos employed are correct. The mentioned adherence to accuracy of detail is clearly evident during scenes filmed at the historic Santa Fe Depot in San Diego that is still in use, occasioning tactical concerns that are nicely handled. Also of interest to cinephiles are wigs topping many of the females, due to contemporary (1988) modes of shorter hair, and additionally avoidance of obvious non-period jewelry among both featured players and extras. The presence on the soundtrack of that ultimate Verdian soprano, Rosa Ponselle, reflects the posture of the film's creators toward constructing a vivid drama of grandly emotional proportions, an objective clearly attained with this woefully undervalued motion picture.