Captain from Castile (1948)

140-141 mins | Drama | January 1948

Full page view
HISTORY

The film includes the following written acknowledgment: "Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Mexican Government and to the National Museum of Mexico for their advice and cooperation in the reenactment of the historical sequences. All scenes associated with the Cortéz Expedition were photographed in Mexico and wherever possible on the actual locations."
       According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, in Dec 1944 the studio purchased Samuel Shellabarger's novel for $100,000. In Feb 1945, writer John Tucker Battle wrote a story outline of the novel and by late May, he finished a first draft continuity screenplay in collaboration with Samuel Engel. Between Feb and Jul 1945, Zanuck consulted Joseph L. Mankiewicz about the project. In a 16 Jul 1945 memo Mankiewicz wrote to Zanuck, "The background and very reason for the existence of the book is Cortéz' Conquest of Mexico....Neither Cortéz nor his conquest can be slighted or distorted without offending great numbers of greatly interested people. The Hays Office representatives stressed this very point during my discussion of the novel with them. Perhaps this may be one reason why this fantastically dramatic subject has been one of those often dreamed of, but never realized by our industry...To do this picture ambitiously will cost a great deal of money. It will require Technicolor, a huge cast, great numbers of people, elaborate sets, costumes, props, locations etc. The script will take a long time to write-thorough research will be necessary. Censorship problems should not be too difficult, once a satisfactory substitute for the Inquisition is established." Mankiewicz suggested Tyrone Power as ... More Less

The film includes the following written acknowledgment: "Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Mexican Government and to the National Museum of Mexico for their advice and cooperation in the reenactment of the historical sequences. All scenes associated with the Cortéz Expedition were photographed in Mexico and wherever possible on the actual locations."
       According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, in Dec 1944 the studio purchased Samuel Shellabarger's novel for $100,000. In Feb 1945, writer John Tucker Battle wrote a story outline of the novel and by late May, he finished a first draft continuity screenplay in collaboration with Samuel Engel. Between Feb and Jul 1945, Zanuck consulted Joseph L. Mankiewicz about the project. In a 16 Jul 1945 memo Mankiewicz wrote to Zanuck, "The background and very reason for the existence of the book is Cortéz' Conquest of Mexico....Neither Cortéz nor his conquest can be slighted or distorted without offending great numbers of greatly interested people. The Hays Office representatives stressed this very point during my discussion of the novel with them. Perhaps this may be one reason why this fantastically dramatic subject has been one of those often dreamed of, but never realized by our industry...To do this picture ambitiously will cost a great deal of money. It will require Technicolor, a huge cast, great numbers of people, elaborate sets, costumes, props, locations etc. The script will take a long time to write-thorough research will be necessary. Censorship problems should not be too difficult, once a satisfactory substitute for the Inquisition is established." Mankiewicz suggested Tyrone Power as "Pedro de Vargas", Linda Darnell as "Catana", Fredric March as "Cortéz", José Ferrer as "Coatl", Alan Reed or William Bendix as "Juan Garcia" and Morris Carnovsky as "Montezuma". The extent of Mankiewicz's contribution to the completed film has not been determined. After Mankiewicz, the writing assignment then passed to Lamar Trotti who wrote all subsequent drafts of the screenplay and ultimately produced the film.
       According to materials in the Fox legal files, also at UCLA, the studio's executive production manager, Ray Klune, spent several weeks in Mexico City in late summer 1946. Dr. Leopoldo Martínez Cosio of the Mexican National Museum was contracted as a consultant and technical advisor on the production, and Klune assigned Ralph De Lara as production coordinator. The studio's legal department sent Emilio C. De Lavigne, along with Marcella Napp, to Mexico and De Lavigne negotiated all the basic union agreements there. According to a 19 Nov 1946 HR news item, a train carrying supplies, costumes and equipment, including refrigeration units to protect the sensitive Technicolor film stock, left Los Angeles for Mexico City in early Nov 1946. In Mexico City, everything had to be loaded onto a fleet of trucks for the journey to Morelia, 350 miles southwest of the capital. The production started filming in late Nov 1946 in Morelia, the site for Spanish sequences of the film, according to information contained in the Legal Files.
       Although Joseph LaShelle and Arthur E. Arling are credited as directors of photography in the HR production charts, LaShelle is not credited onscreen. In the onscreen credits, Charles G. Clarke and Arling are listed as directors of photography. Modern sources state that while LaShelle was an expert black and white cameraman, his experience with Technicolor and distant locations was minimal, while Clarke was experienced at both and enjoyed Zanuck's confidence. Modern sources have indicated that some of LaShelle's work, probably including a scene at the de Vargas home, remains in the released film. According to one modern source, Arling photographed the second unit material under director Robert D. Webb and Clarke shot all of the interiors done in Los Angeles. A Mar 1948 AmCin article discusses some of the difficulties of shooting on location in Mexico. Shooting the interior of the temples presented special problems because of cramped lighting conditions and excessive heat.
       According to AmCin , the second major location was Uruapan, where the recently active volcano, Paricutin, doubled for Popocatapetl, which was active at the time of Cortéz's invasion. Paricutin was especially active while the company was on location, emitting great clouds of smoke into the air, frequently blotting out the sun's rays and thus interfering with the filming. The last major location was near Acapulco and served as the landing sight and base of Cortéz's expedition. The AmCin article adds that more than 19,500 Mexican and Indian extras were used in the crowd scenes, with as many as 4,500 taking part in the sequence staged at the edge of Paricutin's lava beds. The company returned from Mexico in early Mar 1947 and studio filming was completed in early Apr 1947. The shooting schedule totaled 106 days including 83 in Mexico. The Var review stated the total budget to be around $4,500,000, "visible in every inch of the footage."
       The Var review places John Burton in the cast as "Ignacio de Lora" but this character does not appear in the released film. According to a 15 Dec 1947 NYT news item, the Rev. John J. Devlin, Hollywood's representative of the Catholic Church's Legion of Deceny and an advisor to the MPAA on religious matters, warned Fox at the time the novel was purchased that it was not acceptable to the church on the grounds that it depicted the Inquistion as "witch baiting." After discussions with the studio, Devlin deemed the third version of the script acceptable because it toned down the depiction of the Inquisition. The excision of the de Lora character may have been part of the compromise made between Fox and Devlin. In the novel, de Lora, a cruel and corrupt priest, is head of the tribunal that interrogates the de Vargas family and the person who sends Pedro's arrest order to Cuba. An examination of the final screenplay reveals that a brief scene involving de Lora was written and shot but deleted before the film was released. In the film, the character of "de Silva," a nobleman, serves as the chief Inquisitor. Another major difference between the novel and the film is that in the novel, "Pedro" and "Catano" return to Europe and are reunited with his parents before returning to the New World.
       Alfred Newman's score for Captain from Castile was nominated for an Academy Award. Newman later recorded the score and donated his royalties to the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund. Newman gave the rights to the film's stirring march to the University of Southern California, to serve as the theme music for the football team. This was Jean Peter's first major role. A radio adaptation of the film was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on 7 Feb 1949 and starred Cornel Wilde and Jean Peters. Another adaptation, starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., was broadcast on the Screen Directors' Playhouse on 3 May 1951. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Nov 47
p. 389.
American Cinematographer
Mar 48
pp. 80-81, 103
Box Office
6 Dec 1947.
---
Film Daily
26 Nov 47
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 46
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 47
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
29 Nov 47
p. 3953.
New York Times
15 Dec 1946.
---
New York Times
26 Dec 47
p. 22.
Variety
26 Nov 47
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Props
Props
COSTUMES
Men's ward
MUSIC
Orch arr
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
Prod coord
Key grip
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Captain from Castile by Samuel Shellabarger (Boston, 1945).
MUSIC
"La Venta," "Solea" and "Granada Arabe" by Vicente Gomez.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
January 1948
Premiere Information:
New York and Los Angeles openings: 25 December 1947
Production Date:
25 November 1946--4 April 1947
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
25 December 1947
Copyright Number:
LP1776
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
140-141
Length(in feet):
12,669
Length(in reels):
16
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12051
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Near Jaen, Spain, in the year 1518, young nobleman Pedro de Vargas is riding through the countryside when he encounters Diego de Silva in pursuit of a runaway slave. Pedro offers to help search for the runaway, and while scouring the hills, he is attacked by the slave, Coatl. As soon as Coatl recognizes Pedro as an old friend, however, he desists, then shows Pedro the scars he bears from the cruel de Silva's whip and declares that he would choose death over surrender. After helping Coatl escape, Pedro rescues tavern girl Catana Pérez from the unwanted attentions of two of de Silva's men and gives her a ride back to the Rosario Inn, where she works. There Pedro meets Juan García, who regales him with fantastic tales of his travels to the Indies and kingdoms filled with mountains of gold. Juan accompanies Pedro back to Jaen, where Pedro tells his family about the new land. Pedro is interrupted by the appearance of de Silva, a champion of the Inquisition. When Pedro's father, Don Francisco, denounces the Inquisition as evil, de Silva insults Pedro by insinuating that he shared a dalliance with Catana. Later that evening, Pedro visits his sweetheart, Luisa de Carvajal, to pledge his love. After Pedro leaves the Caravajal house, Catana and her brother Manuel warn him that his father, mother and young sister Mercedes have been charged with heresy and imprisoned to face the Inquisition and that he is to be next. Desperate, Pedro turns to Luisa' s father, the Marquis de Carvajal, for advice. When the Marquis, who believes the Inquisition to be just, counsels ... +


Near Jaen, Spain, in the year 1518, young nobleman Pedro de Vargas is riding through the countryside when he encounters Diego de Silva in pursuit of a runaway slave. Pedro offers to help search for the runaway, and while scouring the hills, he is attacked by the slave, Coatl. As soon as Coatl recognizes Pedro as an old friend, however, he desists, then shows Pedro the scars he bears from the cruel de Silva's whip and declares that he would choose death over surrender. After helping Coatl escape, Pedro rescues tavern girl Catana Pérez from the unwanted attentions of two of de Silva's men and gives her a ride back to the Rosario Inn, where she works. There Pedro meets Juan García, who regales him with fantastic tales of his travels to the Indies and kingdoms filled with mountains of gold. Juan accompanies Pedro back to Jaen, where Pedro tells his family about the new land. Pedro is interrupted by the appearance of de Silva, a champion of the Inquisition. When Pedro's father, Don Francisco, denounces the Inquisition as evil, de Silva insults Pedro by insinuating that he shared a dalliance with Catana. Later that evening, Pedro visits his sweetheart, Luisa de Carvajal, to pledge his love. After Pedro leaves the Caravajal house, Catana and her brother Manuel warn him that his father, mother and young sister Mercedes have been charged with heresy and imprisoned to face the Inquisition and that he is to be next. Desperate, Pedro turns to Luisa' s father, the Marquis de Carvajal, for advice. When the Marquis, who believes the Inquisition to be just, counsels Pedro to give himself up, Pedro angrily insults him and then leaves. Afterward, Pedro is captured and brought before de Silva, whom he defiantly accuses of cowardice. When Francisco refuses to confess to heresy, Pedro watches helplessly as de Silva condemns Mercedes to torture that results in her death. Juan, who has infiltrated the prison walls to put his mother, a victim of the Inquisition, out of her misery, later slips into Pedro's cell, arms him with a sword and offers to help him and his parents escape. Before Pedro can depart, however, de Silva enters the cell to torment him. Brandishing his sword, Pedro duels de Silva, and after disarming him, forces him to renounce God, then plunges his blade into de Silva's chest. Juan, Pedro and his parents then join Catana and Manuel, who are waiting with horses outside to aid in their escape. To deceive the pursuing soldiers, the group divides. Juan, Pedro and Catana ride into the hills while the de Vargas follow Manuel to the coast, where a ship awaits to take them to Italy. The next day, the Marquis informs Luisa that Pedro has attacked de Silva in cold blood and tells her that he has pledged her hand in marriage to de Silva, who will recover from his wounds. In the mountains, meanwhile, Catana watches jealously as Pedro fondles the handkerchief that Luisa gave him at their last meeting. When Juan learns that Hernán Cortéz is mounting an armada in Cuba to explore the Indies, he urges Pedro to enlist rather than sail to Italy to meet his parents. Eager to join the expedition to the new world and a new life, Catana convinces Pedro to join them. At Havana harbor, as Pedro enlists in Cortéz' army, Cortéz overhears him give his family name and introduces himself as an old friend of his father. Cortéz then presents Pedro to Juan Escudero and Diego Cermeño, representatives of the Cuban governor, and to the company's chaplain, Father Bartolomé. Believing that he has killed de Silva, Pedro confesses his crime to the priest, who then shows Pedro an order for his arrest. After declaring that he is not in sympathy with the Inquisition, the priest tears up the document, but does not tell him that de Silva is alive, and gives Pedro a penance to perform for his his sin: a vow to pray for de Silva's salvation.
       Upon reaching Villa Rica on the East coast of Mexico, the expedition is met by representatives from the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, who offer Cortéz gold to proceed no farther and return to his own country. When Escudero reminds Cortéz that they have come to trade and not to colonize, Cortéz voices his determination to conquer the land at any cost. Catana, who has fallen deeply in love with Pedro, bargains with Botello, a charlatan and seer, for a magic totem to make Pedro return her love. After Botello gives her a magic ring in exchange for an extra portion of meat, Pedro passionately dances with her, proclaims his love and insists they marry that night. When Cortéz advances on Cempoala, Montezuma sends more gifts and requests that he turn back. After Cortéz assigns Pedro to guard the treasure, Pedro leaves his post one night to save the drunken Juan from being shot. During his absence, a bag of gems is stolen and Cortéz gives Pedro one day to recover them or face death by hanging. Pedro tracks the thieves, Cermeño and Escudero, to a galleon on the harbor, from which they are planning to sail to Cuba and enlist the aid of the governor in defeating Cortéz. After he is discovered and taken prisoner, Pedro is helped to escape by the ship's captain. Gravely wounded during the escape, Pedro is in danger of bleeding to death when Botello cauterizes his wound and saves him. With the jewels returned, Cortéz promotes Pedro to captain, then orders the destruction of all the ships to prevent further communication with Cuba. The expedition continues to the outskirts of Cholulu, where another ambassador, a nephew of Montezuma, comes with a large army bearing more gifts and a warning that the Gods are predicting war if Cortéz remains. In reply, Cortéz blasts an idol atop a temple with his cannon and declares that he cannot leave because he has no ships. Informed that eighteen ships have just arrived in Villa Rica, Cortéz pretends that they are enforcements, although he realizes that they have been sent from Cuba to attack him. After ordering half his troops to hold off the Aztecs, Cortéz leads the other half in a siege against the Cubans. Before leaving, Cortéz takes five Aztecs hostage and puts Pedro in charge of them. One night, as Pedro passes the building housing the hostages, Coatl, who has returned to his people, steps out of the shadows. After chastising Pedro for invading his country, Coatl tells Pedro that he would give his life for him, but if Pedro harms his people, he will fight him. Afterward, Catana tells Juan that she is carrying Pedro's child. Some time later, Cortéz returns from defeating the Cubans, bringing with him de Silva, the head of the Inquisition. When de Silva accuses Juan of killing his own mother, Juan explains that he was trying to spare her from being burned at the stake. Cortéz orders Juan's arrest, and de Silva informs Pedro, who has promised Father Bartolomé to keep his vow, that he has married Luisa and bears a grievance against him. To forestall a confrontation, Cortéz places de Silva under Pedro's protection. When de Silva is found strangled, Pedro, although innocent, is arrested. On the night that he is to hang, Catana visits Pedro in his cell and he instructs her to join his parents in Italy. Meanwhile, Coatl confesses to Father Bartolomé that he killed de Silva. To spare Pedro from suffering and dishonorable death, Catana stabs him just as the priest arrives with news that Pedro is a free man. Pedro survives, however, and soon takes his place at Cortéz' side. As the troops prepare to advance against Montezuma, Father Bartolomé exhorts them to go forward not as conquerors, but as men of God because all men are created according to God's plan. As Pedro rides off, Catana and their newborn son march behind, proud participants in the opening of the new world. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.