Blood and Sand (1941)

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Wonderful old-style melodrama, a remake of the Blasco Ibanez novel that had starred Valentino, a rags to riches tale of illiterate Andalucian matador Tyrone Power, torn between his love for childhood sweetheart and wife Linda Darnell and wealthy mistress Rita Hayworth (on loan from Columbia). When critic Laird Cregar sees Hayworth arrive at the bullring for the first time he declares, If this is death in the afternoon, she’s death in the evening! And so it proves … Gorgeous looking film directed by Rouben Mamoulian with magnificent production design and cinematography influenced by the great Spanish artists, together with stunning costuming – have you ever seen more splendid white dresses on more glorious women?! Mexican Bullfighter Carlos Arruza served as the film’s technical director.Big wow from Twentieth Century-Fox with an effective screenplay by Jo Swerling. Look for Linda praying to La Macarena! And great silent star and producer Alla (Garden of Allah) Nazimova as Power’s mom telling her not to have sons! Power is fabulous in the second of his three Latino roles – after Mark of Zorro, before Captain from Castile. Lush.

 

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The Black Swan (1942)

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Twentieth Century-Fox knew how to make good plotty films and this rip-roaring swashbuckler is at the top of the entertainment heap. Adapted by Ben Hecht and Seton I. Miller (they both wrote Scarface, Miller wrote The Sea Hawk) from Rafael Sabatini’s novel, shot by Leon Shamroy in glorious Technicolor, scored by Alfred Newman and directed by the always reliable Henry King, what more could you want? Oh, there’s Tyrone Power as Jamie Boy, supporter of privateer Henry Morgan (Laird Cregar) who’s just taken the King’s shilling and wants to clean up the Spanish Main and Maureen O’Hara as Lady Margaret, daughter of the Governor he usurps. They’re after Leech (George Sanders, splendid as a brigand in a ginger wig) who’s done a deal with Lady Margaret’s fiance to divest the Prince Consort of a pile of gold and taken off in the titular galleon. Thomas Mitchell provides comic relief and you must sit back and relish the witty banter between the mismatched lovers as Jamie Boy kidnaps the lustrous lady to lure Leech into a trap. Oh my! How wonderful is this!