Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tyrone Power double feature

Captain From Castile (1947) and The Black Swan (1942). The first, I didn't particularly like. I have issues with sprawling movies that don't have cohesive plots. This one starts out okay, but then we get to the New World with Cortez and not much really happens after that point. Tyrone has minor random adventures, gets nearly killed twice, and mostly follows Smilin' Jack, aka Cortez, around the Mexico countryside while the latter prepares to conquer the Aztecs. There's no real point to it all, no conclusion either. Tyrone doesn't even get to take care of the Spanish Inquisition rat who murdered his sister, though he gets blamed for it. It's a rather sprawling, meandering, uncomfortable, and surprisingly brutal film. That's not to say it didn't have its good points. I liked the actors a lot, particularly Lee J. Cobb, love the scenery and the costumes, love the music, but other than Paricutin and Alfred Newman's famous and completely wonderful Conquest theme, there's not much memorable here for me.

I come from a family of geologists/astronomers, so one of the highlights of this film (and one of the reasons I rented it) was seeing the Mexican cinder cone Paricutin in action. It was erupting during this period, and the filmmakers made nice use of nature's display. The ash blocking the sun lends a different coloring to a lot of the outdoor shots and it's beautiful and atmospheric.

Paricutin erupting in the background, no CGI here!

The volcano's over the horizon in this pic, but look at that lovely ash cloud and the contrast it provides! Love it!

The Black Swan, on the other hand, I absolutely fell in love with. No pretenses about this movie. It's a rollickingly good, Technicolor, pirate adventure film. I don't think it's possible for Tyrone to look any hotter than he does in this movie. Being a ruffian suits him immensely, from the scruff to the outfits to the pirate attitude he tries to curb, to the swash on his buckle. And Maureen O'Hara is his lovely sassy leading lady, and there couldn't be a better match for him. They spark and rail against each other, beat each other up and fall in love on the high seas. It's just so much unrepentant and unpolitically correct (by today's standards) fun.

But really, the guy who steals the film is Laird Cregar. I swear, the man can do no wrong in a film. He's awesome in every film I've seen him in, and what a tragedy that we lost him at such a young age. He simply owns the screen when he's on, and not just because he's so physically imposing. He's got the charisma, the voice, the presence to go with it. I just love him. So many of the good moments in this film belong to him.

This is a film I'd definitely like to own. As far as pirate movies go, this one's way near the very top of my list.


  1. I love Tyrone, and have forever wanted to see The Black Swan! (My library doesn't have it though!) I suppose I will just have to give in and buy it without seeing it, because I have just known from the moment I first heard about...that I will LOVE it!

    I have however seen CFC (more than once...that is how much I love Tyrone)! I agree with you on all points! Not in any way a very satisfying film...although Tyrone tries his best to salvage it.

    I always laugh at his near-should be-death but aren't experiences! Who gets an arrow in the back of the head and turns out perfectly all right because a hot poker stops the bleeding? And who gets stabbed in the heart at close range with a dagger...and recovers quickly? Seriously!!!

    And, plus John Sutton plays such a real jerk! And, it's just confusing that he comes out alive after being stabbed by Tyrone! No one, and I mean absolutely no one (including the amazing swordsmen Basil Rathbone) comes out alive after a fight with simply isn't done! ;-D

    You did some great reviews!

    I especially thought the words "Being a ruffian suits him immensely" very interesting.

    Because it's SO true! So many people don't like Tyrone because they find him dull and boring. And this is usually because all they see of him is "Witness..." and "The Razor's Edge". His performance in the first is brilliant although a bit overshadowed by Laughton and Marlene. His role in the second is decidedly dull and melodramatic. Not his fault by any means! He does very well in it, the role itself is just plain boring! (Hahaha, the fake sunshine that appears on the fake mountain...when Tyrone finally see's the truth is particularly awful!)

    Tyrone had other brilliant dramatic roles as well (especially Nightmare Alley)! But, I usually always like him best when he's so charming, but a bit of a "ruffian". A few that come to mind are: A Yank In The RAF, Jesse James, In Old Chicago, and many others, but I can't think right now...

    WOW! Sorry about the length of this comment, it's practically as long as your post...and it's boring!

    I just wanted to say, you did a great post!

  2. I love long comments! I figure if we sat down at a cafe and talked Tyrone and his movies, we'd both go on for ages, LOL, so this is our virtual equivalent.

    That's a good way to put it, CFC just wasn't very satisfying in the long run. Yeah, I love his recuperatory powers in that film. He'd survive anything, I think! Oooh, I hated John Sutton's character. I couldn't wait for him to get it after what he did in the beginning.

    I would have gone on for probably four or five more paragraphs on all the things I loved about The Black Swan, only I had to leave for dinner, so I cut it short.

    It was actually not a double feature... but a quadruple feature. I also re-watched Razor's Edge and then Blood and Sand. Yeah, he's cool in Razor's Edge but... I'm not sure dull is quite the right word, just that his character is off on a different unapproachable tangent in life, and next to the tawdry, petty, bauble-bright lives of the other characters, how can he not suffer by comparison? But I do like his whole search for something beyond the ordinary, the why am I alive and not the other guy thing.

    And I love Nightmare Alley.

    But really, I just don't want him clean cut and in a suit. I want him in period clothes, flashing his grin and swinging a sword and being a charming, dangerous rogue. Of course, that may say more about my taste in men than about Tyrone! LOL! But he does it so well! No wonder the studio kept casting him in those type of movies.

  3. We just watched The Black Swan a few weeks ago and agree it is great fun.

  4. Oh, good! I love long comments too!

    I always laugh about John Sutton, because I've only seen him in a few things, but all but one of the movies I saw him in...he long dead by the end...

    Okay, you're right, dull is not the right word. And, it's not that he suffered by comparison or anything. I just felt that the entire film itself was a bit overdone (with the sudden revelation on the fake mountain and such...). I thought all the actors were splendid (including Ty), just that the other elements of the film, weren't amazing, so that put a bit of a damper on his performance. But, that's just my opinion. And it could be I'm just not intelligent enough to understand the amazingness of that movie!

    Hahahahaha, yes, that is proper way for Tyrone to be!

  5. Captain from Castille wasn't my favorite either, but it wasn't I guess it gets one thumb up from me. :)