The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California on December 10, 1961 · 525
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The Los Angeles Times from Los Angeles, California · 525

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Los Angeles, California
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Sunday, December 10, 1961
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525
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'TV. BY PHILIP K. SCHEUER Sophia loren appear opposite Charlton Heston in "El Cid," fifm'which Times motion picture editor Phil Scheuer previews in adjoining article. Miss Loren is cited as a striking female who again demonstrates that she can act. 1 .-?. " ' - V . - : - 1 ;' kC f .; . . ? 7 , "J t - ' r : 4v4 . - " ' -n--" 'i ; i 'V' ':' this method as such but because, either in the writing or the subsequent editing, some of the connecting links seem to have gone astray, it is not easy for us to get our bearings. Also in a cast of 17 principals the picture boasts as many shades of villains as a Shakespearean tragedy, and every last one of them has to be lulled, lured over or liquidated before the mighty El Cid's own triumph-in-death. 1 Ith-Century Spain Consider, for instance, the over-all setup in this Spain of the 11th century. There are Christian kings (like Ferdinand of Castile and Ramiro of ' Aragon) and Moorish emirs (like Moutamin of Saragossa and Al Kadir of Valencia) , all individually and mutually hostile. The general idea is that a young man comes from Bivar to Castile, his name Rodrigo Diaz, to serve his king and to unite Christians and Moslems alike for the greater glory of Spain. He is the youth first dubbed by a grateful Moutamin, whose life he has Jl Cid Flexes His Muscles to the Glory of Moviemaking t Now it's "El Cid's" turn. "El Cid" brings back the excitement of moviemaking; it may even bring back the excitement of movie-going. It is as big as "Ben-IIur" if not bigger. If it had put a few more connectives in the narrative, if it had Hot thrown in an excess of everything else In its three hours running time, it might also have been great. Or to express a personal opinion in reverse: I am a pretty hardened audience. I found it far, far better than I expected. Even on the unwieldly wide screen, in color, director Anthony Mann has managed to keep it barring the loss of significant details by reason of their gigantism surprisingly cinematic. It's a motion picture! This Samuel Bronston production is a synthesis of several techniques. You can spot the Hollywood know-how in spectacle second to none and com-. . plete with Yakima Canutt and his al ways amazing Wild West stuntmen. But now it has a hint of the Italian (or Italo-Spanish), too, as if Hercules and the other musclemen were flexing their ridiculous biceps just outside the camera's periphery. And it has, in its "intimate" scenes, the usual assortment of international Thesps including, of course, the British who are able to belt out a line to the gallery as if somebody were still sitting up there. 'Shakespeare' Sets Nor does the analogy end there. By accident or design Philip Yordan and Fredric M. Frank have constructed their screenplay in acts like Shakespeare's an act ends; a new act begins, and in it are different principals who gradually make known in dialogue who they are and what their business is. I have no quarrel with spared, El Cid meaning lord or leader. Now, opposed to all these is Ben Yussuf, a fanatical African warlord leading his black-robed hordes against all Europe. It is against him that El Cid is destined at last to ride in battle. Last but not least, there are the princes and princesses, the lords and ladies of the various courts and their retainers, loyal or disloyal all up to their eyeteeth'ih intrigue. Rodrigo Diaz, the legendary figure who felt he had a God-given mission to save Spain, is played by Charlton Heston played in the tradition of Moses and Ben-Hur, but with even more fire physically. Spiritually he may be less impressive, despite sporadic efforts to surround him with a Saviour-like aura as El Cid. Sophia Loren appears opposite him as Chi-mene, his betrothed, daughter of a nobleman. She is not only a striking female but she again demonstrates that she can, act, even though it is sometimes difficult to 'determine whether her expression is meant to convey love or hate. v ' Scheming Princess The woman who becomes the immediate cynosure whenever she enters a scene, at any rate, is Genevieve Page, cast as the sneaky, scheming Princess Urraca, daughter of Ferdinand. Not to be confused with Ger-aldine Page, Genevieve nevertheless suggests that the G. Pages may well belong in a class by themselves. The rest of the generally talented company is predominantly male. It is no simple task, as I mentioned, to keep their identities straight but I feel safe in singling out Gary Raymond and John Fraser as the contentious princes, Sancho and Alfonso; Raf Vallone as Ordonez, rival for Chimene's hand and enemy of El Cid; Hurd Hatfield as Arias, follower of El Cid; Herbert Lom, the fanatical Ben Yussuf, and Christopher Rhodes, champion of Aragon in the great tournament. Others worthy of note are Ralph Truman (Ferdinand), Gerard Tichy (Ramiro), Douglas Wilmer (Moutamin) and Frank Thring (Al Kadir), all kings or emirs; Andrew Cruick-shank, Michael Hordern, Massimo Se-rato and Carlo Giustini. Director Mann has filled his spill-ing-over canvas with magnificent vistas of duels galore, a tremendously thrilling joust and armies advancing and clashing on a De Mille scale. But he holds nearly everything too long, just short of absurdity, and, as he has so often in the past, revels in the agonies of the flesh. He will numb you with his repeated onslaughts well before the finish, but I guarantee he won't put you to sleep. Master Cinematographer Making all this possible to Mann, in 70-mm. Super Technirama and Tech nicolor, is one of the master cinema tographers of the screen, England"! Robert Krasker. He filmed the pie ture in three Madrid studios, in thf Guadarrama Mountains, Valladolir) and Rome and, for the climactic bat tie of Valencia, with its milling horses, its catapults and moving tow' ers, In and out of the walled city of Peniscola. Film editor was Robert Lawrence. "Ben-Hur's" Miklos Rozsa has com posed another "Ben-IIur" score. An Allied Artists release in America, "El Cid" will have its Los Angeles premiere Dec. 18 on the oversized screen at the Carthay Circle. . , lojiianBflfsczitimfflf calendar, Sunday, December io, i96i

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