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The 27 Apr 1960 issue of Var announced that American filmmaker Samuel Bronston planned to independently produce three films in Spain that year, including King of Kings (1961, see entry), The Sad Knight of La Mancha, and the Spanish epic, El Cid. Bronston’s production and financing model reportedly entailed funding from “friendly industrial sources” in the U.S. for “above-the-line budget costs,” in addition to a trade arrangement in which American companies sold industrial products in Spain and proceeds from those sales (in Spanish currency) were filtered directly into Bronston’s productions in exchange for box-office profit shares. Bronston also sold foreign distribution rights to multiple entities “to provide advance minimum guarantees from distributors for local costs.” The 1 Jan 1961 NYT noted that by selling foreign rights territory by territory, instead of granting “monopoly rights” to one distributor, Bronston was effectively cut distribution costs in half.
       In late Apr 1960, screenwriter Fredric M. Frank was flown to the King of Kings set in Spain to begin work on the screenplay for El Cid. Bronston had recently purchased rights to Frank’s 140-page treatment for the film. Soon after, Anthony Mann came on board to direct, as reported in the 6 Jul 1960 LAT, and Philip Yordan, who wrote King of Kings, was brought on as a co-writer. An 18 Jul 1956 Var brief previously announced two other El Cid projects: a Spanish co-production set to star Anthony Quinn, and a collaboration between RKO, Milton Sperling, and Marvin Gosch. Spain’s Aspa Films, formerly involved with the Anthony Quinn project, confronted ... More Less

The 27 Apr 1960 issue of Var announced that American filmmaker Samuel Bronston planned to independently produce three films in Spain that year, including King of Kings (1961, see entry), The Sad Knight of La Mancha, and the Spanish epic, El Cid. Bronston’s production and financing model reportedly entailed funding from “friendly industrial sources” in the U.S. for “above-the-line budget costs,” in addition to a trade arrangement in which American companies sold industrial products in Spain and proceeds from those sales (in Spanish currency) were filtered directly into Bronston’s productions in exchange for box-office profit shares. Bronston also sold foreign distribution rights to multiple entities “to provide advance minimum guarantees from distributors for local costs.” The 1 Jan 1961 NYT noted that by selling foreign rights territory by territory, instead of granting “monopoly rights” to one distributor, Bronston was effectively cut distribution costs in half.
       In late Apr 1960, screenwriter Fredric M. Frank was flown to the King of Kings set in Spain to begin work on the screenplay for El Cid. Bronston had recently purchased rights to Frank’s 140-page treatment for the film. Soon after, Anthony Mann came on board to direct, as reported in the 6 Jul 1960 LAT, and Philip Yordan, who wrote King of Kings, was brought on as a co-writer. An 18 Jul 1956 Var brief previously announced two other El Cid projects: a Spanish co-production set to star Anthony Quinn, and a collaboration between RKO, Milton Sperling, and Marvin Gosch. Spain’s Aspa Films, formerly involved with the Anthony Quinn project, confronted Bronston over rights to the title and theme. The 31 Aug 1960 Var stated that Bronston agreed to involve Aspa in the production, as well as Italy’s Dear Film, making the project a U.S.-Italian-Spanish co-production.
       A 28 Sep 1960 Var article stated that Allied Artists, United Artists, and Paramount Pictures were vying for U.S. distribution rights. Bronston was said to favor Allied, despite its relatively smaller stature, due to the “faster playoff and payoff” the company offered. On 12 Oct 1960, a Var article confirmed that Allied would release domestically, while six different distributors would handle foreign territories “on a roadshow basis.” Var suggested “radical changes” played into Bronston’s choice to entrust Allied – a company “virtually unheard of a few years ago” – with such a large-scale epic. Bronston was also credited with an innovation when he invited the heads of the seven distributors to visit set in Jan 1961, according to a 25 Jan 1961 DV item which deemed the meeting the “first such global conference of kind where an American producer, operating in Europe, played host to his distrib[ution] allies.”
       Charlton Heston’s casting was announced in the 26 Jul 1960 DV and LAT. The actor’s most recent feature film role in the 1959 epic Ben-Hur (see entry) had won him an Academy Award, and many contemporary sources noted the similarities in the back-to-back projects. Sophia Loren, cast as Heston’s co-star, reportedly received a salary of $200,000, “plus $1,000 weekly expenses and a $20,000 commission for her agent,” as stated in the 21 Dec 1961 LAT. El Cid’s overall budget was said to be $6 million when the project was initiated, but by the time filming got underway, negative costs had grown to $7 million, as stated in the 25 Jan 1961 DV.
       Actor-stuntman Buff Brady was flown to Madrid, Spain, to work on the film, according to a 1 Sep 1960 DV brief. A 31 Dec 1960 LAT item listed Spanish fencer and actor Félix de Pomés as a cast member, as well as a ten-year-old simply referred to as “Marison.” The 17 May 1961 Var also named Virgilio Teixeira as a cast member.
       Principal photography began 14 Nov 1960 at the Sevilla Studios in Madrid, Spain. As stated in the 2 Nov 1960 Var, four months of exteriors in Spain were set to be followed by a fourth month of interior shooting at Rome, Italy’s Cinecitta Studios. Although a 25 Dec 1960 LAT article claimed the production was “bogged down” by bad weather in Valladolid, Spain, the 22 Mar 1961 Var stated that filmmakers enjoyed “week after week of consecutive mild sunshine” that reinforced Bronston’s dedication to shooting more pictures in Spain. According to a 1 Jan 1961 NYT article, castles, cathedrals, and various other Spanish locales were shot in Burgos, Valencia, Pensicola, Manzanares, Belmonte, and Calahorra. Costumes, said to cost roughly $500,000, were hand-sewn by seamstresses in a hamlet outside Madrid, while the Garrido Brothers sword factory in Toledo, Spain, worked under an exclusive contract for eight months producing medieval-style weaponry. According to a 5 Mar 1962 LAT brief, 1,700 Spanish Army troops appeared in battle scenes, in addition to 500 mounted riders in Madrid’s Municipal Honor Guard.
       The 1 Jan 1961 NYT noted that Sophia Loren’s part was expanded after favorable reactions to early rushes.
       Allied Artists planned a $2-million promotional campaign, according to the 27 Sep 1961 Var, to bolster the “roadshow” release, which marked the first such “reserved-seat attraction” for the distributor, as stated in the 23 Aug 1961 NYT. The picture was set to premiere at the Warner Theatre in New York City on 14 Dec 1961, and five days later at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, as noted in the 2 Dec 1961 LAT, which claimed El Cid marked the first time the life of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, a.k.a. El Cid, was depicted in a feature-length motion picture.
       Critical reception was mixed. The 6 Dec 1961 Var review stated that the film seemed to be aimed at an international audience with its “minimal dialog and characterization” and action that “engages the eye rather than the mind.” The 15 Dec 1961 NYT review echoed the same sentiment, stating, “The spectacle is terrific. Only the human drama is stiff and dull.” Commercially, El Cid proved successful, taking in $14 million at the U.S. box office in its first ten months of release, according to the 3 Oct 1962 Var.
       Samuel Bronston received a Golden Globe Special Achievement Award for El Cid, which also received Academy Award nominations for Art Direction (Color), Music (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture), and Music (Song) for “Love Theme From El Cid (The Falcon And The Dove)” by Miklos Rozsa and Paul Francis Webster.
       Several lawsuits were associated with the film, including “a conspiracy suit” filed by Bronston against former colleagues Barnett Glassman and Martin Gosch, according to a 31 May 1961 Var brief. Bronston claimed Glassman and Gosch defamed him in communications with various actors and production companies in an attempt to stymie the project, ultimately costing him $100,000 in “added expenses.” In another case, the 27 Dec 1961 Var reported that Sophia Loren sued Bronston, Allied Artists, and the Stanley Warner theater circuit after a billboard was erected at the corner of Broadway and 47th Street in New York City, showing Loren’s name underneath, not beside, Heston’s. Loren claimed that she had been promised “equal second billing above the title in all advertising.” As noted in the 20 Feb 1962 NYT, Loren’s suit was settled out of court.
       Filmmaker and preservationist Martin Scorsese mounted a campaign to refurbish the film in the early 1990s. A 29 Aug 1993 Washington Post article noted that Miramax Pictures “spent six figures” restoring ^El Cid, with Scorsese overseeing the project. A new negative and prints were made for an Aug 1993 re-release. Nearly fifteen years later, the 1 Feb 2008 USA Today reported that a DVD box set, including a copy of the 1961 Dell comic book based on the film, had just been released by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, formerly of Miramax. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
26 Jul 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Sep 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
25 Jan 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
29 Mar 1962
p. 10.
Daily Variety
24 Jul 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
6 Sep 1962
p. 1, 3.
Los Angeles Times
20 Apr 1960
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
6 Jul 1960
Section A, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1960
p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
25 Dec 1960
Section F, p. 3, 8.
Los Angeles Times
31 Dec 1960
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
7 Sep 1961
Section B, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
2 Dec 1961
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
14 Dec 1961
Section C, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
19 Dec 1961
p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
21 Dec 1961
Section A, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jan 1962
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
5 Mar 1962
Section C, p. 16.
New York Times
1 Nov 1960
p. 48.
New York Times
1 Jan 1961.
---
New York Times
22 Aug 1961
p. 24.
New York Times
23 Aug 1961
p. 28.
New York Times
8 Dec 1961
p. 43.
New York Times
15 Dec 1961
p. 49.
New York Times
20 Feb 1962
p. 51.
USA Today
1 Feb 2008
Section D, p. 6.
Variety
18 Jul 1956
p. 5.
Variety
27 Apr 1960
p. 3.
Variety
31 Aug 1960
p. 5.
Variety
28 Sep 1960
p. 4.
Variety
12 Oct 1960
p. 7.
Variety
2 Nov 1960
p. 11.
Variety
22 Mar 1961
p. 4, 24.
Variety
17 May 1961
p. 2.
Variety
31 May 1961
p. 4.
Variety
27 Sep 1961
p. 17.
Variety
6 Dec 1961
p. 6.
Variety
27 Dec 1961
p. 17.
Variety
3 Oct 1962
p. 3.
Washington Post
29 Aug 1993
Section G, p. 3.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward director
MUSIC
Love theme
Love theme
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Master of prop
Supv tech
Supv elec
SOURCES
SONGS
"Love Theme," music by Miklos Rozsa, words by Paul Francis Webster.
DETAILS
Release Date:
14 December 1961
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 14 December 1961 at the Warner Theatre
Production Date:
began 14 November 1960
Copyright Claimant:
Samuel Bronston Productions
Copyright Date:
6 December 1961
Copyright Number:
LP27968
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
gauge
35 & 70
Widescreen/ratio
Super Technirama
Duration(in mins):
184
Countries:
Italy, Spain, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In eleventh-century Spain, the Christian kingdoms of Castile, Leon, and Aragon face the constant threat of the warring Moors and their determination to spread the Islamic culture throughout all of Europe. Into this arena of violence rides Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, whose courage, wisdom, and spiritual strength earn him the sobriquet El Cid, or "The Lord." Following one particular battle, El Cid liberates some Moorish emirs on their vow never again to attack Castile. His act of mercy is misinterpreted as treason by Count Gormaz, the father of his beloved Chimene, and to protect the family honor El Cid is forced to slay the count in a duel. Although Chimene vows to have her revenge, she is obliged to marry El Cid upon the bidding of King Ferdinand, but they do not consummate the marriage, and Chimene enters a convent. A short time later Ferdinand dies, and his kingdom is divided amongst his three quarrelsome children, Alfonso, Sancho, and Urraca. Before long, the weak, ambitious Alfonso arranges the assassination of Sancho. When El Cid refuses to vow allegiance unless Alfonso swears himself innocent of his brother's death, he is banished from Castile. But through the long years that follow, El Cid continues to battle the Moors, and his ranks increase as loyal subjects join him by the score. Eventually his noble nature wins over even Chimene, and she again declares her love for him. When the Moorish leader, Ben Yussuf, begins planning a massive invasion of Valencia, Alfonso recalls El Cid from exile and places him in charge of the army. For days the battle rages and on the eve of the last great Moorish onslaught El Cid is ... +


In eleventh-century Spain, the Christian kingdoms of Castile, Leon, and Aragon face the constant threat of the warring Moors and their determination to spread the Islamic culture throughout all of Europe. Into this arena of violence rides Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, whose courage, wisdom, and spiritual strength earn him the sobriquet El Cid, or "The Lord." Following one particular battle, El Cid liberates some Moorish emirs on their vow never again to attack Castile. His act of mercy is misinterpreted as treason by Count Gormaz, the father of his beloved Chimene, and to protect the family honor El Cid is forced to slay the count in a duel. Although Chimene vows to have her revenge, she is obliged to marry El Cid upon the bidding of King Ferdinand, but they do not consummate the marriage, and Chimene enters a convent. A short time later Ferdinand dies, and his kingdom is divided amongst his three quarrelsome children, Alfonso, Sancho, and Urraca. Before long, the weak, ambitious Alfonso arranges the assassination of Sancho. When El Cid refuses to vow allegiance unless Alfonso swears himself innocent of his brother's death, he is banished from Castile. But through the long years that follow, El Cid continues to battle the Moors, and his ranks increase as loyal subjects join him by the score. Eventually his noble nature wins over even Chimene, and she again declares her love for him. When the Moorish leader, Ben Yussuf, begins planning a massive invasion of Valencia, Alfonso recalls El Cid from exile and places him in charge of the army. For days the battle rages and on the eve of the last great Moorish onslaught El Cid is mortally wounded by a stray arrow. Attended by Chimene, he makes her promise that, alive or dead, he will lead the next day's charge. Obedient to her husband's wishes, Chimene has El Cid's dead body mounted firmly on his white charger and placed before his troops. And when the Moors see the seemingly invincible El Cid riding once more into battle, terror and confusion overtake them, and they flee in disorganized panic toward their ships. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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