Sunday, August 19, 2018

La historia de España como fue creada por Hollywood: cuatro películas (Spain's History As Created By Hollywood: Four Films)

Hollywood is known for bending history to fit the "Silver Screen". As far as American History goes. How many different versions, including Walt Disney's and John Wayne's, of the battle for the "Alamo" has Hollywood produced? Looking at Biographical feature films. How many versions, including Robert Taylor and Paul Newman, has Hollywood made about "Billy the Kid"?

This article looks at Four Hollywood Historical Motion Pictures About Espana (Spain). They cover four events in the country's history from 1043 to 1936. I still watch and enjoy these four films, but how do they compare to actual history?

I start my look at Spain through the eyes of Hollywood in the 11th Century. His real name was Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar and he was born sometime around 1043 in Vivar, Burgos, Spain. As time would pass he would become known as either "El Campedor". Which to the Spanish Christian's meant "Outstanding Warrior", or to both his Moorish allies and enemies "Al Sayyid (The Lord)". Which was changed into Castilian Spanish as "El Cid". The following is a brief look at his life.

His father was Diego Lainez Senior de Vivar and his mother was Teresa Rodriquez Alvarez de Amaya. Rodrigo was raised in the Court of King Ferdinand the Great and served the King's son Sancho. The King had five children, two girls and three boys, in order of birth: Urraca, Sancho II, Elvira, Alfonso IV and Garcia II.

In 1057 he fought against the Moorish stronghold of Taifa de Zaragoza located in the Eastern part of Spain. His victory and his honor toward the Moorish leaders earned Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar the title of "El Cid".

When his father died, in 1065, Sancho became Sancho II, King of Castile, and he appointed Rodrigo Commander and Standard Bearer. To consolidate his power base that same year. King Sancho had Rodrigo Diaz lead the Castilian military against his two brothers. Now King Alfonso IV of Leon and King Garcia II of Galicia and Portugal. This of course did not endear Rodrigo to Sancho's younger brothers.

Sancho continued his consolidation and had Diaz conquer the Moorish stronghold of Zamora near the border with Portugal. Along with Badajoz, also on the Portuguese border, in another location. Once again enraging King Garcia II, because of King Sancho's closing in on his Kingdom.

However, in 1072 Sancho was assassinated possibly by his brother Alfonso and his sister Urraca. Rodrigo Diaz found himself in the uncomfortable position of now being in Alfonso's service and removed from Command and Standard Bearer of Castile. Sometime between July 1074 and May 1076 Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar married Jimena Fernandez de Oviedo, daughter of Count Diego Fernandez de Oviedo.

In 1079 Rodrigo was sent by King Alfonso to Seville to collect unpaid taxes at the court of
Muhammad ibn Abbad al-Mu'tammid. The Emir Abdullah of Granada and his Spanish ally Garcia Ordonez, of Seville, attacked Diaz's forces with a combined Moorish and Spanish army. This resulted in "The Battle of Cabra" and "El Cid" entering Granada. After the battle ended Rodrigo had captured Ordonez and three other Christian Knights who were with him. He held them prisoner for three days. However, King Alfonso looked upon this battle as unauthorized and held it against "El Cid" for his own personal reasons.

Although Rodrigo served King Alfonso as he had his father and older brother. Alfonso and his court had suspensions of Diaz's loyalty. Aided by the fact that the peasants and some members of the military supported him, seemingly, over the King.  In 1081 Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar was exiled. It's not clear if Jimena went with him, but a large amount of Alfonso's military did. .

Diaz relocated to the Moorish community of Taifa de Zaragoza and went to work for the Sultan's he had befriended in 1057. "El Cid" became a leader of the combined Muslim and Christian army and taught tactics to his troops. With his combined Moor/Spanish Army he fought several battles including a decisive one against Aragon, located in northeastern Spain, a foe of even King Alfonso.

The Almoravid Muslims, better known as the Berbers of North Africa, centered in Morocco, invaded Spain under Yusuf ibn (Ben) Tashfin. On October 23, 1086 the "Battle of Sagrajas" took place. Ben Tashfin delivered a major defeat upon King Alfonso IV. As a result Alfonso called Rodrigo Diaz back from exile with his army.

A very few biographies say "El Cid" fought for Alfonso at "Sagrajas". Some Spanish records indicate the opposite. The first recorded document of Diaz's return to Court was in July 1087 eight months after the defeat.

However, it appears that whatever help "El Cid" gave King Alfonso was minor and that he actually hoped both opponents might weaken themselves. Once again Alfonso exiled Rodrigo. Additionally Alfonso ordered the capture Jimena Diaz and her three children Cristina, Diego and Maria. The four were imprisoned in an attempt to force Rodrigo to co-operate. It didn't work, but the four remained imprisoned in Castile. What happened to Diaz's family is not recorded until after he conquered the city of Cuarte and in October 1094 they were reunited.

All this time Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar had eyes of the Port City of Valencia for himself and began maneuvers to obtain his prize.

The first obstacle to his plan was Barcelona the capital of Catalonia. In May 1090 he attacked and defeated Berenguer Ramon II the Count of Barcelona. To assure the Count would not be a problem. He arranged a marriage between his youngest daughter Maria and Berenguer Ramon III.

On his way to Valencia more towns were conquered as "El Cid'a" strengthened his position. In October 1092 an uprising within Valencia took place as the siege began. Two years later in May 1094 Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar was crowned "Prince of Valencia" and finally set up a joint Christian and Muslin community. For five years Rodrigo and Jimena had a peaceful rule and then in 1099 Valencia was under siege by the Almoravid Muslims. On June 10, 1099 "El Cid" died from what is considered the famine that was ruining through the besieged Valencia. Valencia did not give in until May 5, 1102. However, Jimena Diaz had escaped the city in 1101.


On December 6, 1961 in London, England.the World premier of producer Samuel Bronson's 184 minute epic, not including Intermission, "El Cid"was held. The three Academy Award nominated motion picture was the Hollywood version of Spanish Knight Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar's life.

The picture was directed by Anthony Mann a perfect choice. He had Directed a string of outstanding James Stewart films starting with 1952 Bend in the River. Then followed by 1953's The Naked Spur and Thunder Bay, 1954's The Glenn Miller Story and The Far Country, 1955's The Man from Laramie and The Strategic Air Command. For Samuel Bronson, Anthony Mann also directed 1964's Fall of the Roman Empire.

The screenplay was written by three men. The first was Philip Yordan, 1955's The Conquest of Space, 1958's The Bravados and Samuel Bronson's 1961's King of Kings. The second was Fredric M. Frank, Cecil B. DeMilles 1949 Samson and Deliah 1952's The Greatest Show on Earth and 1956's The Ten Commandments. The third writer was Ben Barzman, 1945's Back to Bataan, 1948's The Boy With Green Hair (About WW2 War Orphans, find it), the excellent British Science Fiction from 1962 These Are the Damned. Both Yordan and Barzman would also work on Samuel Bronson's 1963 55 Days at Peking and 1964's Fall of the Roman Empire. Remade by Ridley Scott in 2000 as "Gladiator". 

My article on Producer Samuel Bronson who made movies with real casts of thousands. An also had a perjury trial go to the United States Supreme Court setting a rule on what a lawyer may ask. Can be read at:

Below a photo of actor Charlton Heston as Rodrigo at the film's climatic battle against the Almoravid Muslims.

Below a drawing of the real "El Cid" at the same time.

Rodrigo's wife Jimena (Ximena) is portrayed by Sophia Loren.

Below a drawing of the real Jimena at the time of her marriage.

Sancho II was portrayed by Gary Raymond.

Below an old painting of Sancho II.

Sancho II de Leão e Castela - Compendio de crónicas de reyes (Biblioteca Nacional de España).png

John Fraser was Alfonso IV.

Below a painting of Alfonso IV

In the motion picture Genevieve Page was Urraca.

Below a painting of Urraca.

Portraying the Sultan of the invading Almoravid Moor's Ben Yusuf was Herbert Lom.

Below the real Yusuf ibn Tashfin

The motion picture opens with Ben Yusuf meeting in North Africa with all the Spanish Emirs for a meeting in North Africa. There he informs them of his plans for Islamic World Domination.

Cut to a Spanish village that was destroyed by the Moors and Don Rodrigo Diaz walking through the burnt ruins with a bloody sword. He stops to see a Priest in what was once a church. The Priest asks for help saving the cross. Rodrigo assists and then meets his second in command who shows him the captured Emirs.

Rodrigo tells the other not to kill them, but bring them along. The audience has also learned this is to have been Rodrigo's wedding day to Donna Ximena. Note King Ferdinand is still alive.

As he escorts his prisoners Rodrigo meets up with his father Don Diego Diaz (Michael Hordern).

Just then a troop of soldiers led by Count Garcia Ordonez (Raf Valione), arrives and demands the prisoners. Rodrigo refuses and his father says their his sons. Ordonez has no problem, if  the Emirs are hung by Rodrigo. Don Rodrigo thinks for a moment and then turns to the Emirs and asked them to swear loyalty to King Ferdinand (Ralph Truman). The first to swear loyalty to also Don Rodrigo is Emir Al-Mu'tamin (Douglas Wilmir). Who then names Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar "EL CID, THE LORD".

For this action Ordonez accuses Rodrigo of treason and leaves to report this to King Ferdinand. The Priest turns to Don Rodrigo and says he has met his destiny. Cut to Donna Ximena worried that her love has not arrived yet, but her handmaiden reminds her it is only noon and he has to nightfall to arrive. Count Ordonez reports to the court and then is seen by Donna Ximena who thought he was Rodrigo arriving. Ordonez tells her of Rodrigo's treason and reveals that he is also in love with her.

While Rodrigo waits below the throne room Ximena enters and the lovers embrace. It is then that Rodrigo reveals who he freed and Ximena reacts negatively when she hears they're Moors. As the two talk above them the King enters and the audience sees the THREE Infantas, Sancho, Alfonso and Urraca. There is no mention of Ferdinand's other two children in this motion picture.

Rodrigo and Ximena hear an argument break out between their fathers. Her father is called Count Gormaz, Andrew Cruickshank, in this screenplay. Gormaz accuses Rodrigo of being a traitor to the King and Spain. Rodrigo's father calls the other a liar and this leads to a loss of face for Don Diego Diaz.

That night Rodrigo confronts Ximena's father, Count Gormaz, defending the honor of his own father and asking the Count to retract his accusations. Ximena's father refuses and a duel is fought in which he is mortally wounded. Count Gormaz calls out to her and she arrives to take him in her arms. Unbeknownst to Ximena, Rodrigo is in a corner listening as her father lie to his daughter about the duel. Leaving out that Rodrigo begged several times for "Pity" on an old man and Cormaz refused. Ximena is made to vow revenge against Rodrigo the man she loves.

Two men ride on their horses into the throne room and confront King Ferdinand. One is a rival King and the other his champion. Knowing that Count Gormaz was Ferdinand's champion. The other King throws down his gauntlet and declares war over the area known as Calahorra that Ferdinand has laid claim too. However, because of the invading Moors, King Ferdinand, suggests a single combat to determine the rule of Calahorra. It is agreed and then Ferdinand asks the assembled Knights for a new Champion and no one moves toward the gauntlet. Rodrigo comes out of the crowd and picks it and turns to his King. He states to Ferdinand and all those assembled that he was unjustly branded a traitor and let God decided in this combat, if that is true or false.

Princess Urraca knows that Ximena still loves Rodrigo and tells her she's a fool to let such a man go. At the combat Ximena gives the challenger to Castile her scarf as her favor instead of Rodrigo and Urraca gives him hers.

Rodrigo wins and gives Ximena back the scarf she gave his opponent. Now as the King's Champion he is given a mission to collect tribute from Moorish Emirs owed to Castile. Prince Sancho asks to accompany him and it is agreed. One request is made by Rodrigo that when he returns the King will give his blessing for his marriage to Ximena.

Before the Prince and El Cid leave on the mission. Count Ordonez meets with Ximena and they plot Rodrigo's death. On the mission Sancho and Rodrigo are attacked and Muslin troops led by Al-Mu'tamin come to their rescue. It is revealed that Ordonez is with the attackers and Rodriquez learns from him of the plan made with Ximena. As with the Moors earlier, Rodrigo lets Count Ordonez go.

His marriage takes place, and that night Ximena reveals she planned with Count Ordonez the murder of Rodrigo. Rodrigo in turn reveals his prior knowledge. He leaves her alone and she spends the night crying in torment and removes herself to a convent. Which from the comments of the Mother Superior she must have been at once before.

King Ferdinand dies and a gloating Alfonso IV tells his older brother that their father has broken his Kingdom between his three children. Sancho will get Castile, Alfonso gets Leon and Asturias and Urraca gets Calahorra. Sancho overpowers his brother and takes Leon and Asturias as his own. He orders Alfonso sent to the dungeons in Zamora. Rodrigo intercepts the escort and demands they turn Alfonso over to him. They refuse and El Cid kills them all and takes Alfonso to his sister at Calahorra. In actually the real Urraca got Zamora from her father and not Calahorra. Also this division of Ferdinand's kingdom happened long before the infantas father’s death.

Urraca and Alfondo ask Rodrigo for help against Sancho, but he refuses saying he promised their father to protect all three children. Ben Yusuf arrives once again at Valencia and speaks to a Christian Soldier named Dolfos, Fausto Tozzi, about assassinating King Sancho II. As Dolfos was trusted by her father, he approaches Urraca with a plan to place Alfonso IV on the throne and she agrees.

The murder takes place, but Rodrigo is there and kills Dolfos. Urraca goes to the convent where Ximena is staying and tells her that Rodrigo is going to force Alfonso to "Swear" in did not kill his brother at his coronation. She asks Ximena to go to her husband and make him stop his plan. As a "King should not have to swear anything".

At the coronation Ximena watches from a window and has not spoken to Rodrigo. When the citizens of Castile are asked to kneel and show their loyalty to King Alfonso. They all do, but Rodrigo. This leads to Rodrigo requesting Alfonso to swear he had no part in the murder of Sancho. Having no part he agrees to the request and Rodrigo takes his hand and pushers it down upon the bible.

As his first official duty as King. Alfonso has all the lands and titles of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar removed and taken back by the crown. He then banishes him and makes it known that any help he receives will result in that person's property and land being taken also by the crown.

Cut to Rodrigo in the above sceen. He meets a leper who is begging for a little water. Rodrigo gets off his horse and offers the leper water from his own bottle. When the leper thanks his "CID". Rodrigo in surprise asks how he knows him and the leper replies: "Only El Cid would give a leper water from his own flask" and starts to walk away. Ximena who has been watching now approaches and reveals her love for him.

A little girl approaches and leads them to her father's barn. There the two finally admit their love for each other and consummate their marriage. The next morning Rodrigo promises they will go somewhere and start a life together.

It appears the two have found true happiness, but when Rodrigo opens the barn door. An Army of both Christians and Muslims awaits him as their leader. Ximena reluctantly goes back to the covent knowingly that her husband has found his destiny and the "Legend of El Cid" truly begins.

At this point the original roadshow production had an intermission.

When the film resumes we see a warrior Rodrigo enter the throne room of King Alfonso IV with several Muslim Emirs including his good friend Al-Mu'tamin.


Two thing happen. One "El Cid' warns Alfonso not to take his army against Ben Yusuf at Sagrajas. "El Cid" tells him to take the stronghold city of Valencia and force the Almoravid Muslim leader to come to him. The second is Alfonso and all those present are appalled that "El Cid" would bring Muslim's into the throne room of a Christian King. King Alfonso orders them to leave.

We now see Rodrigo go to the convent and meet his two twin daughters he did not know he had. There is no son in the screenplay. Next he reunites with Ximena after many years of battle and shortly afterwards leaves to lay siege to Valencia.

A badly wounded King Alfonso and whats left of his army arrive at the convent.

Alfonso blames Rodrigo for his defeat at Sagrajas and orders Ximena and her daughters taken prisoner.  Count Ordonez visits them in the dungeon and agrees to help them escape. Meanwhile, Rodrigo hears of  Alfonso's action and leaves the siege of Valencia to rescue his wife and daughters against the warnings its a trap. Part way toward Castile he meets Ximena, his daughters, Ordonez and his personal troops. The Count offers his service to Rodrigo, if he will accept it. He is of course welcomed.

The siege of Valencia continues and after starvation takes over the city.

The siege catapults are used to send bread into the city. The people revolt and "El Cid's" army enters and takes Valencia. Meanwhile, Ben Yusuf is arriving with his army. Both Rodrigo's army and the citizens of Valencia offer him the crown, but he does not accept for himself and has it sent to King Alfonso IV.

Princess Urraca tells her brother it's a trick of some kind. While Alfonso is in awe that after all he's done to Rodrigo. The man is still loyal to Spain and his King.

Ben Yusuf's troops are now arriving by sea and laying their own siege to Valencia. Cut to Count Ordonez being tortured to his death by Ben Yusuf/ Who can not figure out how any many would have such loyalty to "El Cid".

Rodrigo has a meeting with his commanders and decides they must attack now, before Ben Yusuf is at full force. So the gates are opened and out rides his army cutting their way through Ben Yusuf's forces.

During the battle "El Cid" is shot near the heart with an arrow and is quickly returned to Valencia. His men panic and follow him back inside.

Knowing that his men are panicking. He covers the arrow and tells them he will lead his men into battle the following morning. A dying Rodrigo Diaz de Viva tells Ximena he must lead his men the next morning on the attack to drive out Ben Yusuf and makes her promise him that will happen. King Alfonso arrives and goes on his hands and knees to HIS CID. Rodrigo tells him no King should kneel to another man, but is proud to see Alfonso has become a true King now.

The following morning the dead "El Cid" is placed in steel supports on his horse with his cape covering them. He is led out and through his cheering men as King Alfonso joins him to lead the attack.

The Almoravid Muslim's were told "El Cid" was dead and seeing him at the head of his army. The Almoravid's panic and run toward the sea and death.

The movie ends with the dead "El Cid" riding  along the beach into Spanish History, after running over Ben Yusuf.

I move forward Seven Centuries to New Spain during the 18th Century. Historical novels have been a standard for generations and the next three motion pictures are based upon three of them.

In 1769 in New Spain, now Mexico, an expedition was put together for two purposes. The cover story was to establish Franciscan missions in the California's, but the expedition was also to locate fabled "Cibola"..

The origin of "Cibola" may go back to Portuguese legend from the 8th Century. Which told of a island named "Antilla", located in the Atlantic Ocean, and Seven Golden Cities established there. No such island ever existed, but the name "Antilla" is very close to the "Atlantis" of Plato in name and location.

During the 16th Century, in 1528, Panfilo de Navarvez led an expedition from the Spanish Settlements in Florida along the Gulf Coast and into the future United States. Only four members of the expedition, Alvar Nunez, Cabeza de Vaca, Alonso del Castillo Maldonado and Andres de Carranza, made it back to Mexico City. They reported of being told by Indians of "Cibola", located many leagues ( a league is 3 miles) north of New Spain. The community of Seven Cities were made entirely of Gold.

In 1539 a Franciscan Friar Marcos de Niza told Spanish Officials in Mexico City that he had actually seen "Cibola". He stated being afraid of the Zuni Indians in the area, In 1541 another expedition was sent to the location the Friar mentioned, but only found a deserted old pueblo. This was in what would become New Mexico. However, the legend of "Cibo" and Seven Golden Cities did not die, but grew. Which brings me to 1769.

The leader of the expedition was a Spanish Administrator and Soldier named Gaspar de Portola. The other important member of the expedition and representative of the Catholic Church was Friar Junipero Serra y Ferrer.

The initial expedition was divided into four sections, two by sea and two by land. On January 10, 1769 the first ship the "San Carlos" sailed from La Paz. On February 15, 1769 the second ship the San Antonio sailed from  Cabo San Lucas. During this period two land parties started to move from  Loreto, Baja California, Sur. The lead group was under Gaspar de Portola's Second in Command Captain Fernando Rivera y Moncada and left Velicata on March 24, 1769 and the other group under de Portola with Friar Serra left on May 15, 1769 from Velicata.

The San Carlos arrived in San Diego Bay on April 11th and after fighting fierce storms and getting lost. The San Antonio arrived in the bay on April 29th. The first land party under Rivera y Moncada arrived in May and set up a base of operations at what is now Old Town, San Diego.

During the journey to San Diego, and still in Baja California, Friar Serra had a very badly inflamed leg injury treated. He had always avoided medicines and put his trust fully in God, but this time he asked one of the muleteers to do what was necessary to cure the injury. At this point the De Portola expedition was 300 miles from San Diego. On June 23, 1769 the group came upon a very large Native American village and traded with the peaceful Indians. Depending upon the source: On either June 25th, or  June 30, 1769 Gaspar de Portola and Friar Serra arrived in San Diego and met with Rivera y Moncada.

One source says the expedition had a total of 300 men and only half survived to reach San Diego Bay. While another says the expedition consisted of 219 men and less than 100 were a live by the time the groups met up. A third vessel with supplies never arrived and was presumed lost at sea.

Here the story splits. Staying in San Diego Friar Serra founded on July 16, 1769 "Mission San Diego de Alcala". Some of the expedition stayed with Serra. While another group, led by de Portola, set out to reach Monterey Bay. That group headed north on July 14, 1769 and reached what would become Los Angeles on August 2nd and continued north to what became Saugus in the Santa Clarita Valley. On August 19th Gaspar de Portola and his expedition reached an area that would be Santa Barbara and continuing north, still in search of "Cibola", the group reached present day San Simeon on September 13th. They found the coast too rocky to stay and continued to what became the Salinas River on October 1, 1769 on the Monterrey Peninsula. De Portals decided to push northward again and arrived at the future San Francisco Bay on October 31st. At this point Gaspar de Portola decided they would never find the fable Seven Cities and turned back for San Diego .

Back on August 15th, at the new site of Mission San Diego, a group of 20 "Kumeyaay" Indians attacked. There were only four soldiers, a blacksmith, a carpenter and Friar Serra present. As the others were on board the San Carlos observing a "Feast of the Assumption" being given by another Friar.

The servant of Friar Serra, Jose Maria Vererano, was killed and several of the Indians. The rest withdrawing with tales of the power of the Spaniards guns compared to bows and arrows. Friar Serra became the friend of a young Kumeyay boy who learned enough Spanish to become a translator for him. Friar Sierra recorded his first attempt at baptism of a Native American child. After a group of Indians brought in a baby, but when Friar Serra started to put Holy Water on the child. The Indians grabbed the baby and ran away being scared that Friar Serra was going to kill it.

On January 24, 1770 Gaspar de Portola and his men arrived back in San Diego. Which brings me to:


In 1951 authoress Isabella Gibson Ziegler wrote a popular novel. still in print, entitled "The Nine Days of Father Serra". Screenplay writer Richard L. Breen, Marilyn Monroe's 1953 "Niagara", the Barbara Stanwyck 1953 "Titanic", Jack Webb's 1954 movie "Dragnet" and Webb's 1955 "Pete Kelly's Blues" was chosen to write the screenplay for he picture now called "Seven Cities of Gold".

The film was co-produced by Film Editor Barbara McLean. She had been nominated six times for the Oscar for Best Film Editing and had won for 1944's "Wilson". The film was also co-produced by Robert D. Webb who also Directed this motion picture. Webb had also won an Oscar in 1938 for "In Old Chicago". 

 Following Anthony Quinn as Captain Gaspar de Portola in this 103 minutes historical drama.

Below a painting of the real Portola.

Father Junipero Serra was portrayed by Michael Rennie.

Below a painting of Friar Junipero Serra.

First Billing for the motion picture was actor Richard Egan as Portola's Fictional Second in Command Jose Mendoza. The leader of the other party Captain Fernando Rivera y Moncada is regulated to a minor role as the motion picture.

There are the two fictional  Native American's. The first is a local chief's son named Matuwir portrayed by Jeffrey Hunter seen in the following still with Michael Rennie.

The other is Matuwir's sister Ula portrayed by Rita Moreno.

The motion picture opens with Captain Gaspar de Portola and his friend Lieutenant Jose Mendoza in a carriage on their way to Mexico City. The carriage is traveling at a fast rate of speed and hits and kills an old women. The two men are not very concerned about her, but are chastised by Father Junipero Serra who appears and gives the women the last rights of the Catholic Church.

The two soldiers, after arriving in Mexico City, are given orders to "Conquer and Occupy" California discovered by the Spanish in 1736, but who have never officially took position of the land. This leads to the formation of the De Portola Expedition and the assigning of Father Serra as the Catholic Church's representative.

At this point the screenplay stays historically accurate as the two ships and two groups of explorers are shown leaving. The orders given to De Portola are to meet the other three groups in San Diego Bay and proceed north to Monterey Bay. Along the way look for the "Seven Cities of Gold". Before they leave Father Serra accuses the men of planning to enslave the peaceful natives and plunder the seven cities. We also discover that Lt. Mendoza does not like Father Serra as, for one thing, he is an agnostic. He also complains that the Father carries too many trinkets which are taking up pack mules. This sets up the two as antagonists for the movie's plot line.

Two events happened on the way to San Diego. The first could very well have taken place as a Native American war party surrounds the expedition, but it is those trinkets that stop an attack. As Father Serra gives them out to the warriors. Then later during the night a soldier is killed by an arrow shot by some unknown Indian. Mendoza complains again about Father Serra's methods and that it didn't save the man's life.

The second event is documented, but perhaps didn't happen as in the screenplay. Gaspar de Portola considers Father Serra a problem to the expedition and when the priest has his leg problems. Orders him back to Mexico City for treatment as a means to get rid of him. Instead Father Serra gets a muleteer to use local remedies to cure his leg.

Proceeding north a fierce sand storm appears and both Lieutenant Mendoza and Father Serra become separated from  the column. Seemingly out of nowhere a shack appears with a man, women and child in it. They give the two shelter and food. To Father Serra the two have been saved by "The Holy Family" and once the storm recedes. The two men are reunited with De Portola and the group reaches San Diego and Captain Rivera's encampment.

Gaspar De Portola next puts Jose Mendoza in charge of the San Diego camp, sends the San Antonio back to Mexico City for supplies, and heads north with a large force toward Monterey in the hopes of finding the Seven Cities and taking control of California.

In the screenplay the Native Americans are called the "Dieueno" and not the "Kumeyaay". However, the name "Dieueno" was given to those Indians in the San Diego Bay area, after the Mission was completed and running, being derived from the name San Diego.

The "Dieueno's" attack the camp and Matuwir, the grandson of the tribes chief Miscomi, is wounded. Father Serra nurses the young man back to health and, against Jose's orders, lets him go back to his tribe. Although as a result many of the Indians start to visit the Mission, but refuse to be baptized.

One of these Native American visitors is Matuwir's sister Ula.

During the time that follows Miscomi dies and the tribe elects Matuwir their new Chief. Unknown to both Matuwir and Father Serra is that Lieutenant Mendoza has been attempting to seduce Ula and has succeeded. At this point, after many months, Gaspar de Portola returns to tell the assembled Spaniards that all they found was parched lands and savages too weak from starvation to even fight. As the San Antonio has not yet returned with supplies. De Portola has made the decision to abandon the entire mission and return to Mexico City.

Ula has spoken to her brother about Jose Mendoza and received permission to go back to Mexico as his wife. However, now the truth comes out that Jose only wanted her for his pleasure. In shame Ula runs from Jose and falls off a cliff to her death.

Chief Matuwir asks for Jose Mendoza for the death of his sister. De Portola refuses to turn Jose over for Indian punishment and even Father Serra refuses. War drums are now heard for several days.

Matuwir orders his men to destroy the Spaniards water supply. Aware now that they will be killed by the "Diequenos". De Portola orders his men to attack the Matuwir and their encampment. However, Jose Mendoza has been troubled by what has happened and finally the agnostic sees God. He goes to Father Serra to confess his sins and asks for Serra's blessing. Next he walks out of the Mission area toward Matuwir and turns himself over. Thereby saving the lives of everyone involved. Father Serra weeps for Jose when his body is returned to the mission with his heart cut out.

Now what's left of the Gaspar De Portola expedition turns south to return to Mexico City. When the San Antonio arrives in San Diego Bay and the film ends with the Mission Bells ringing and the Indian's returning.

The Peninsular War began on October 12, 1807. When Napoleon's French army and the Spanish army jointly invaded Portugal. In March 1808 Napoleon changed direction and invaded Spain. On May 2nd the citizens of Madrid rebelled against the French occupation. The revolt was immortalized in Francisco Goya's painting The Third of May 1808.

The Spanish army was no real threat to Napoleon's forces in Spain as he had them on the run, but the Spanish Guerrillas, local bands of Spaniards. were a constant thorn to the French. Later in the war these basically territorial Guerrilla Bands helped the Duke of Wellington and his allies against Napoleon's army of occupation. Although elements of the Spanish army did fight back, but they had become localized and disorganized. In this article I am not looking at Wellington vs Napoleon, but the Guerrillas as Hollywood, based upon a noted British author's work, would portray them.

As to Wellington and Napoleon's "Waterloo". I highly recommend the 134 minute long Soviet Union/Italian motion picture of that name. In it Christopher Plummer portrays Wellington and Rod Steiger is Napoleon. This was the second Internationally released motion picture from Soviet Director Sergei Bondarchuk. My article "Waterloo" and the great mini-series Bondarchuk did of Leo Tolsoy's "War and  Peace" may be read at:

Prior to the Peninsula War the word "GUERRILLA" was not in use. The Spanish word translates into "Little War" and hearing it being used throughout Spain. The British, under Wellington, adopted the term and started referring to these groups as engaging in"Guerrilla Warfare" against the French,

Below is a painting by an unknown artist of Spanish Guerrillas attacking French Troops made during the war.

The Peninsula War would last until Napoleon was defeated and France left Spain on April 17, 1814. 25,000 Guerrillas died. It is estimated that between 215 to 275 thousand Spanish soldiers and civilians were dead not including the Guerrillas. 35,630 British soldiers had died and between 180 to 240 thousand French soldiers depending upon whose estimate.

Cecil Louis Troughton Smith was an English author born in Cario, Egypt, on August 27, 1899. He would become world renown under his pen name of C.S. Forester for his 15 volume and two magazine stories about British Napoleonic Naval Officer "Horatio Hornblower". Although, today, you can read "Hornblower's" Naval career in order. The series was written out of order from 1937 through 1966. With an unfinished novel and a short story published after Foster's death in 1967.

C.S.Forester also wrote 26 other novels and 11 non-fiction historical works. These included 1959's "Hunting the Bismark" aka: "The Last Nine Days of the Bismark". Which was turned into the 1960 British motion picture "Sink the Bismark".  A 1935 Forester's novel had been turned into John Huston's 1951 motion picture "The African Queen" starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.

In 1937 C.S. Forester wrote a novel about Spain during Napoleon's occupation and the Guerrillas, The main character in his novel was not a person, but a extremely large siege cannon. "The Gun" tells of the discovery of a very large cannon by one group of Guerrillas. It had been abandoned by the retreating Spanish army after the "Battle of Espinoza de Monteros" fought on November 10th and 11, 1808. The weapon has many designs on the barrel and is thought to have belonged to some rich Spanish nobleman for decorative purposes only.

This first group of Guerillas starts out with their leader having a specific purpose for the cannon. He wants to take down the walls of a French fortified city located on a flat and open area, if they can find somebody who can fire it. However, he is killed and the French troops are pursuing. Without his leadersship this group moves the cannon haphazardly from place to place and back to where they started.  They hide the canon in a cave, block the entrance and disband. The large siege canon is forgotten, but another group of Guerrillas led by two brothers, who were officers in the Spanish Army, have heard rumors and find a man from that original group. The brothers decide to use "The Gun" to gather supporters and unite other bands of Guerrillas. Their objective is the same fortified city of the original group months before. At the novel's conclusion that goal is finally accomplished, but with a great loss of Spanish lives and the cannon being blown up after hours of firing.

On July 10, 1957 a motion picture Produced and Directed by Stanley Kramer based upon the C.S. Forester novel was released.


The Pride and the Passion - Poster.jpg

The screenplay for this 132 minute feature was by the husband and wife team of Edna and Edward Anhalt. Edna had been writing Detective movies and Westerns since 1947, Edward had been witting mysteries since 1946. In 1950 the couple wrote the story for Elia Kazan's Panic in the Streets. The film starred Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas as a doctor and a lawyer looking for a man with pneumonic plaque in New Orleans. They did the same for 1952's The Sniper Directed by Edward Dmytryk. That same year the two wrote their first screenplay for Fred Zinnemann's Member of the Wedding. The Pride and the Passion became the pairs first historical motion picture.

When the screenplay was completed only four things from C.S. Forester's "The Gun" remained. The Spanish  Guerrillas, the fortified city, the French soldiers and of course the canon.

As I said the motion picture was Produced and Directed by Stanley Kramer. Kramer had been producing since 1942, but didn't start directing until 1955 with Not As A Stranger starring Olivia de Havilland, Frank Sinatra and Robert Mitchum. The Pride and the Passion was only Kramer's second picture as Director.

Among the films Stanley Kramer would Produce and Direct following The Pride and the Passion are: 1959's The Defiant Ones", 1959's On the Beach,. 1961's Judgement at Nuremberg about the Nazi War Tribunals, the classic all star comedy 1963's It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. 1965's Ship of Fools about escaping Jews from Nazi Germany turned back by the United States and 1967's Guess Whose Coming to Diner which addressed interracial marriage.

The leads are interesting for the reasons they were in this picture.

Cary Grant portrayed British Naval Artillery Officer Captain Thomas Trumball.

He was in Spain making this picture for the sole purpose of getting away from his troubled marriage to actress Betsy Drake. It would end officially on August 14, 1962. While shooting this picture he would have an affair with his co-star Sophia Loren.

Frank Sinatra was on this film, because he wanted to keep an eye on his then wife, actress Ava Gardner. He didn't trust her and she was shooting Ernest Hemigway's "The Sun Also Rises" in Spain and on other European locations. Their marriage would end this year. Sinatra also wanted his role cut short so he had time to locate Gardner and Kramer agreed. A mistake to for the production.

Frank Sinatra portrayed the Guerrilla leader "Miguel".

Sophia Loren portrayed "Juana" the girl that comes between the two men. Loren had been acting in Italy since 1950. Her only other English language film was "The Boy on the Dolphin", released in April of 1957, co-starring Alan Ladd and Clifton Webb.

Cary Grant was going to co-star with his wife Betsy Drake in a comedy entitled "Houseboat". He arranged for the screenplay to be rewritten for Sophia Loren and his wife ended up with a non screen credited role. However, the shoot for "Houseboat" started while Loren and Grant were still filming "The Pride and the Passion". As the duo productions continued their relationship started to go wrong effecting both film shoots.

Near the end of filming "The Pride and the Passion" Sophia Loren announced her marriage to Italian Producer/Director Carlo Ponti. Whom she was already living with while having her affair with Grant. In 1962, to escape bigamy charges brought on by the Catholic Church, the couple had their marriage annulled and just lived together once more. They would remarry in 1966 after becoming French Citizens and by not being in Italy, Ponti could be granted a divorce, which the Church had blocked. They stayed married until his death.

I bring all the gossip up, because it impacted the making of this motion picture negatively. Rewrites were a constant problem and although the scandals caused more interest in the motion picture. They did not save it from becoming a two hour and 12 minute Hollywood Historical bore.

As with C.S. Forester's historical novel the film revolves around a very large 18 pound canon., Which refers to the ball shot out and not the weight of the canon itself. This type of canon was in use on board British Naval vessels at the time. In the novel there is one scene in which the Spanish brothers go on board a British ship and get shot and power for their canon. In this motion picture Cary Grant's Captain Anthony Trumbull is sent to get the canon from the Spanish Army and bring it to the British as agreed.

The canon in the novel and especially the film was much larger and used to rally Guerrillas to join in the attack on the walled French controlled city.


The story is very simple. Captain Anthony Trumbull arrives at the meeting place with the Spanish Army. Only to find the army gone and Guerrillas instead. He meets their leader Miguel and the beautiful Juana who reads to the other Anthony's orders. Miguel asks if he wants to see the canon and takes Trumbull to the cliff that it was thrown over by the Spanish Army in retreat.

The canon is brought up, after avoiding a French patrol, and a broken wheel repaired. At this point an impasse occurs as Anthony wants to take the cannon to the sea port in his orders, but Miguel wants to take it to the walled city of Avila. The following picture is of Avila today.

 Ãvila with its famous town walls

Forced upon Captain Trumbull is if he goes to Avila to fire the cannon for Miguel. The Guerrillas can take the city and, afterwords, will have his men take the cannon to the sea port.

The rest of the film is spent getting the cannon to Avila. The French commander, General Jouvet, portrayed by Theodore Bikel, is hanging ten people each day until they tell them where the cannon is going. As I said a very simple story line.

As with the novel the real star of "The Pride and the Passion" was "The Gun". From a  historical point of view the setting and period costumes are correct. I could not locate any mention that the walls of Avila were ever damaged during The Peninsular War.

The motion picture ends with both Miguel and Juana dead. Neither make it in to Avila and Anthony starts to the seaport with the survivors of Miguel's men pulling the cannon.

I come to my fourth Hollywood tale of Spain and it originated from the pen of American author Ernest Hemingway. Below is a photo of Hemingway working on the novel that this picture was based upon "For Whom the Bell Tolls" was published in 1940. The photo is from  1939.

Dark-haired man in light colored short-sleeved shirt working on a typewriter at a table on which sits an open book

In 1937 Ernest Hemingway became a reporter for "The North American Newspaper Alliance" and went to Spain to observe first hand the Spanish Civil War.

photograph of three men

From left to right above in Spain during the Civil War. Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens, Ernest Hemingway and German Writer Ludwig Renn serving as an Officer in the "International Brigade" in 1937.

Guerra Civil Espanola (Spanish Civil War) began on July 17. 1936 with a coup. Back on April 2, 1931 the political group known as "The Republicans" won the election and forced King Alfonso XIII to resign and go into exile. Alfonso XIII had reigned in Espana from May 17, 1886. It wouldn't be until 1975 when his Grandson Juan Carlos was made King and the monarchy was restored.

The two main factions in the Civil War were "The Republicans" and "The Nationalists". According to "The Republicans" the war was a struggle between tyranny and freedom. While "The Nationalists" believed it to be communist/anarchists, "Red Hordes", against "Christian Civilization". In short a "Holy War" of liberation.

The war ended two years, 8 months and one day after it started with a "Nationalist Victory" and the establishment of a Military Dictatorship. Which supposedly represented that "Christian Civilization" they had been fighting for. The Military Dictator was Francisco Franco Bahamonde who ruled Spain from October 1, 1939 until November 20, 1975 the date of his death.

"The Republicans" were supported by the Soviet Union, Mexico, communist created "International Brigades", such as the one Ludwig Renn was part of, and just plain Foreign Volunteers. "The Nationalists" were supported by Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spanish Morocco and Foreign Volunteers.

Ernest Hemingway along with some other American and British Journalists were at "The Battle of Ebro", July 25th to November 16, 1938. This was the last major stand by "The Republicans", before they started to completely fall apart. He was a supporter of "The Republican Cause".

Hemingway would turn all of his experiences into his novel "For Whom the Bells Toll".


Title of the novel and motion picture comes from  a quote by metaphysical poet John Donne published in 1624 and goes:
No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the SeaEurope is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans deathdiminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
The 173 minute long, not including the Intermission, Road Show motion picture was Produced and Directed by Sam Wood for Paramount Pictures, Wood Directed several classic motion pictures of the 1930's and 1940's. These included The Marx Brothers 1935 A Night at the Opera and 1937's A Day at the Races. Wood was one of several non credited Directors on 1939's Gone With the Wind. He also Directed 1939's Good-bye Mr. Chips, the controversial 1942 King's Row with Ronald Reagan and Bob Cummings as lovers and the same years The Pride of the Yankees with Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig.

The screenplay was by Dudley Nichols. Nichols won the Academy award for John Ford's classic 1935 The Informer. His other screenplays include Merian C. Cooper's 1935 SHE, in 1939 both John Ford's 1939 Stagecoach and George Stevens' Gunga Din. He would receive Oscar nominations for 1940's The Long Voyage Home, 1943's Air Force along with 1957's The Tin Star.

The four leading roles were nominated for Academy Awards:

Robert Jordan was portrayed by Gary Cooper.

Maria was portrayed by Ingrid Bergman.

Pablo was portrayed by Akim Tamiroff.

Pilar was portrayed by Best Supporting Actress Winner Katina Paxinou.

The character of Robert Jordan is in many ways Ernest Hemingway, but instead of being a journalist and writer. Jordan is an American language teacher who lived in Spain during the pre-Civil War.period. He has become a member of the "International Brigade" to fight against the "Nationalists" of Franco. Jordan is now an experienced dynamiter and has been given an assignment to go behind enemy lines and blow up a strategic bridge. He will need the assistance of a group of anti-fascist Republican Guerrillas.

The group is led by Pablo, but the arrival of Robert Jordan with his mission. Will create tension with Pablo and his wife Pilar in a battle of wills for control of the Republican Guerrilla Group as the story progresses. Ernest Hemingway's own prose comes into play with the backstory of the quiet and somewhat reclusive Maria. Robert Jordan is attracted to her, but she seems stand offish and seems to like him at the same time confusing the American. Pilar will reveal that the Fascists, Franco's men, executed her parents in front of the girl and than gang raped her. Which also reflects Hemingway's views toward"The Nationalists". As it did for Ernest Hemingway's future second wife Journalist Martha Gelhorn also covering the Spanish Civil War.

As with Hemingway's original prose. Dudley Nichols' screenplay and Sam Wood's choice of actors, mostly unknown in the United States, bring to life the Spanish Guerrilla's of Ernest Hemingway's novel and experiences. These men, unlike the characters in all three previous Hollywood pictures I have mentioned, are real human beings that reflect the Spanish Republican fighters of the period. One face may be recognizable to my readers and that is Russian character actor Vladimir Sokoloff as Robert Jordan's guide Anselmo.

In comparison it should be noted that Hemingway used his leverage to hand pick the two leads Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman. because he felt they had the ability to portray Robert and Maria as he envisioned them without being seen, on screen, as Hollywood actors, such as Cary Grant and Myrna Loy.

Jordan is a man who has lost his faith in life and lives now in a depressed state of mind. He takes on missions, like blowing up the bridge, hoping he might be killed. His meeting with Maria restores his faith in life and ads another dynamic which is affecting how he views his current mission.

Another group of Guerrillas is ambushed and murdered by the Nationalists. Pablo , who was worried about the mission in the first place, is now firmly against and thinks about what the Fascists will do to the group. While his men and Pilar think otherwise. Pablo will destroy all the Robert Jordan's dynamiting equipment to stop the attack on the bridge and as a result is confronted by Pilar for leadership. The men back Pilar and Pablo leaves.

Pablo regrets leaving his comrades and returns to join them in the final assault. However, here Hemingway adds a very realistic touch from his experiences during the Spanish Civil War. The Nationalists have been appraised of the coming attack on the bridge and are preparing to attack the group in force. The idea of blowing up the bridge becomes almost meaningless, but Robert Jordan will complete his mission.

Anselmo and Jordan rig up hand grenades on wires to pull the pins out from a distance. Definitely too close than the safe distance of the plunger for the original dynamite. Pablo, Pilar, Maria and the other Republican fighters start a diversion to permit the bridge to be blown. Anselmo and Robert take the hand grenades to the bridge and place them around the supports.

While this is happening the Fascists bring in tanks.

After the bridge is blown the two leave on horseback and join the others. Who are holding off the Nationalists.and the group prepares to flee the area under fire. As they ride away a tank shell lands by Robert Jordan's horse and he falls injured. Jordan is picked up under fire and taken to a temporarily safe location as the Nationalists reform. However, Robert can't feel his legs anymore and knows his friends would be killed attempting to save him.

He bids farewell to Maria who does not want to leave her love behind. To assure she and the other survivors will escape. Robert Jordan takes a Lewis Machine Gun and covers the pass the Nationalists, on foot, must come through.

"For Whom the Bells Toll" ends with Robert Jordan firing the Lewis Machine Gun directly at the camera.

Historical motion pictures are always fun, if you don't either take them seriously or consider them truthful. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Gordon Douglas: The Little Rascals (Our Gang) - Giant Ants - and Francis Albert Sinatra

When asked to name a "Classic Film Director", depending upon how much you're into motion pictures, what's your favorite ge...