The Pride and The Passion

| August 19, 2016

When this came in the mail, it was difficult for me to understand how I’d never heard of this movie before.  Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra in a character-driven war drama.  Sounds too good to be true!  After watching the movie, it’s certainly easier to understand how this was allowed to slip into such obscurity.

The story is fairly simple.  Cary Grant plays a military officer who finds himself in the Spanish countryside during a war with France.  He’s in search of a massive and currently disused cannon which he finds in the hands of a French-hating Spanish countryman (Frank Sinatra; Ocean’s Eleven) who wants to use Grant and his cannon to take back his hometown, currently occupied by French soldiers.  Grant agrees since he doesn’t have the manpower to fix and transport the cannon across Spain.  Also, Sophia Loren is there.

First, it feels like Cary Grant doesn’t want to be in this movie.  I’m normally a huge fan of his work, but there are definitely moments in his career where he’s just phoning it in and seems disinterested in the project.  I can’t really tell you much about Grant’s character here even though I just finished watching the movie.  I’m not even sure which army he’s fighting for.  I would guess English, even though he uses his standard posch American Cary Grant accent you’ve seen in every other Grant movie, so maybe he’s American?  No idea.

Speaking of accents, the real problem with the film is Frank Sinatra’s portrayal of a Spaniard.  Obviously this isn’t the first or last time this has happened on film.  Especially in this time period, it was common for white actors to play outside their ethnicity rather than casting an actor of color to portray it more realistically.  And Sinatra’s portrayal of Miguel isn’t stereotypical; in fact, his accent seems to be more or less accurate to what you’d expect from a native Spanish actor.  However, it’s just so needless to cast a white actor when a Hispanic or Spanish actor was surely available.  This was simply just a studio trying to cash in on Sinatra’s popularity and not realizing how incredible inappropriate it is.  Again, it’s not as bad as say Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but few things are that bad.

Finally, we have Sophia Loren, who’s chief role in the movie seems to be having breasts.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re great breasts, but the forced love triangle her character creates with Grant and Sinatra never felt realistic to me.  She can also dance.

The movie is shot beautifully and looks great on this new Blu-ray release from Olive Films.  The prop of the massive cannon with all of its engravings is stunning and the climactic battle scene where you see the gun in action is terrific.  I just wish the movie had given me more substance with the characters, rather than just having flashy set pieces to look at for 2 hours.

Available now on Blu-ray from Olive Films.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
Filed in: Video and DVD
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