Viva Zapata! (1952)
At the time of this films release Marlon Brando was embarking on an incredible run of top films and arguably turned the acting world upside down with his ferocity in delivering the `Method` to screens across the world.
Since I am no accurate history buff I won`t go into whether or not this film is accurate in it`s depiction of the title character or his association with General Huerta and President Madero.
Here Brando is a man of the people who sees the wrongs committed against the farmers and their lands. Getting nowhere through legal channels ultimately results in violence and blood shed. Brando`s temper is on the rise. Its matched only by his loose cannon brother played by Anthony Quinn in an Oscar winning role.
With the never ending revolution in full swing, Brando`s outlaw is made a general in Madero`s army. This gives him enough clout to court Jean Peters and make her his bride.
Ahead of him lay plenty of battles and assassinations. Eventually along with Pancho Villa he will rise to power and find himself in the President`s seat. This leads to a fantastic scene with a young Henry Silva where Brando realizes that he is no better than those that have come before him.
As we get towards the ending, no punches are pulled for a fifties film. It`s a violent and abrupt ending that is echoed in many films of the future. Intentionally or not. Bonnie and Clyde, Butch and Sundance etc.
There is much to appreciate here. The film is of course directed By Elia Kazan who at this time was joined at the hip to his featured player Marlon. It`s also credited to writer John Steinbeck and was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck.
All three lead actors have their big scenes. Peters shines while verbally fencing with Brando in church. Brando is Brando. He`s mesmerizing on screen in practically any role he undertook. Good film, bad film. Over weight or not. Hard to take your eyes off him. Especially when almost everyone wears white as opposed to Brando`s black clothing.
When it comes to Anthony Quinn, I`m a fan. Despite being in films since the thirties this role was a major breakthrough for Tony. It helped to move him towards the leading man status that came his way in the fifties and really till the end of his life. He`d back this up with another Oscar in 1956 for his role in Lust For Life.
His big scene here is a winner. He`s a general with nothing to show for for his bravery when the fighting is over.
Best Quinn line, `I have loved with all my heart 100 women I never want to see again.`This in response to the lengths of courting Brando endures to win over Peters.
This recently turned up on blu ray and quickly found it`s way to my shelf.