Sunday, August 31, 2014

Behold a Pale Horse: Take I

Now that fifty years have passed since it was first lost in the shuffle of the Cold War, let's consider Fred Zinnemann's Behold a Pale Horse (1964).

It's in black and white.

It's based on a novel that is in turn based on historical events.

Zinnemann (1907-1997) is better known by the arc of his entire movie career, with films such as High Noon (1952), From Here to Eternity (1953), A Man for All Seasons (1966) and The Day of the Jackal (1973).  

Anthony Quinn plays Captain Viñolas -- "the villain" -- but with Zorba the Greek (1964) in the pipeline, he seems to enjoy the part with his usual gusto. Gregory Peck, fresh off his role as the strong, saintly Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird (1962), here plays a much more ambiguous "anti-hero," a Spanish anarchist named Artíguez. Omar Sharif plays the youngest of the trio, Padre Francisco-- sandwiched between his epic roles in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Dr. Zhivago (1965).   
Behold a Pale Horse is even-handed and raises several questions about morality and ethics on all sides, but was banned outright in Spain by the regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco (1892-1975), el Caudillo de la Guerra de Liberación contra el Comunismo y sus Cómplices. Since the governments of Spain and the USA had signed the Pact of Madrid in 1953, Franco had enough leverage to throw cultural roadblocks against Behold a Pale Horse, even in North America. And so it has largely been forgotten. Fifty years later -- no longer! Lest we forget, the First Amendment is #1 for a reason.

Today's Rune: Separation (Reversed). 


Tom Sarmo said...

Why fascists hate true art. Thanks for this post, Erik

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Thanks for resurrecting this film! With that sort of star power driving it, it looks as though it really needs to be viewed.

Erik Donald France said...

Cheers, y'all ~ much appreciated & ~ true dat ~!