Viva Zapata! (1952)

110 or 112-113 mins | Drama | March 1952

Director:

Elia Kazan

Writer:

John Steinbeck

Producer:

Darryl F. Zanuck

Cinematographer:

Joseph MacDonald

Editor:

Barbara McLean

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Leland Fuller

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Zapata , The Life of Emiliano Zapata , Zapata, the Little Tiger , Emiliano Zapata , The Beloved Tiger and The Tiger . The film is based on the life of Emiliano Zapata (1879--1919), a Mexican revolutionary leader and promoter of agrarian reform. As depicted, Zapata participated in the revolt against Mexican president Porfirio Díaz, along with Francisco "Pancho" Villa and Francisco Indalecio Madero. After Madero became president in Nov 1911, Zapata grew dissatisfied with his land policies and continued the guerrilla attacks on rich hacienda owners who he believed had stolen land belonging to peasants and Indians. Zapata continued to fight against regimes lead by Gen. Victoriano Huerta and Venustiano Carranza, and established a Rural Loan Bank, Mexico's first agricultural credit organization. As depicted in the film, Col. Jesús Guajardo arranged for a secret meeting with Zapata, at which Zapata was assassinated. The real Zapata had a number of romantic relationships and illegitimate children, and the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, indicate that there was some question as to the identity of Zapata's legal widow. Although the character of "Eufemio," Zapata's brother, is based on fact, the characters "Fernando" and "Pablo" are fictional.
       According to studio records and a Nov 1948 LAT news item, writer John Steinbeck began work on a screenplay about Zapata for Twentieth Century-Fox in 1948. Steinbeck, who had previously worked on a similarly themed screenplay for an unfinished Mexican production, had been interested in Zapata for many years, according to modern sources, and studio ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Zapata , The Life of Emiliano Zapata , Zapata, the Little Tiger , Emiliano Zapata , The Beloved Tiger and The Tiger . The film is based on the life of Emiliano Zapata (1879--1919), a Mexican revolutionary leader and promoter of agrarian reform. As depicted, Zapata participated in the revolt against Mexican president Porfirio Díaz, along with Francisco "Pancho" Villa and Francisco Indalecio Madero. After Madero became president in Nov 1911, Zapata grew dissatisfied with his land policies and continued the guerrilla attacks on rich hacienda owners who he believed had stolen land belonging to peasants and Indians. Zapata continued to fight against regimes lead by Gen. Victoriano Huerta and Venustiano Carranza, and established a Rural Loan Bank, Mexico's first agricultural credit organization. As depicted in the film, Col. Jesús Guajardo arranged for a secret meeting with Zapata, at which Zapata was assassinated. The real Zapata had a number of romantic relationships and illegitimate children, and the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, indicate that there was some question as to the identity of Zapata's legal widow. Although the character of "Eufemio," Zapata's brother, is based on fact, the characters "Fernando" and "Pablo" are fictional.
       According to studio records and a Nov 1948 LAT news item, writer John Steinbeck began work on a screenplay about Zapata for Twentieth Century-Fox in 1948. Steinbeck, who had previously worked on a similarly themed screenplay for an unfinished Mexican production, had been interested in Zapata for many years, according to modern sources, and studio records note that Steinbeck had conducted extensive research into Zapata's life. According to contemporary news items, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased screen rights to the novel Zapata, the Unconquerable , written by Edgcumb Pinchon, from M-G-M in 1949. In addition to the rights to Pinchon's novel, Fox purchased a screen treatment written by Pinchon, as well as research about Emiliano Zapata that M-G-M had been gathering since 1940, when it was announced that Robert Taylor would be starring in the film about Zapata. At that time, Jack Cummings was scheduled to produce the picture. Fox also purchased M-G-M-owned treatments by Lester Cole and Marguerite Roberts, but it is unlikely that their work was used by Steinbeck for Viva Zapata! It is possible that Steinbeck used Pinchon's novel as a guide for his screenplay, although it is more likely that the studio purchased Pinchon's book from M-G-M in order to control the rights to the subject matter.
       When Fox purchased Pinchon's book, it was announced in a 12 Jan 1949 NYT news item that Tyrone Power would be the film's star. Mar 1951 HR news items indicate that Geraldine Brooks was tested for the role of "Josefa," and Marc Lawrence was considered for the role of "Huerta." A modern source adds that Kazan was interested in casting Julie Harris as Josefa. A 17 Jul 1951 HR news item included Tiger Joe March in the cast, but his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. Although studio publicity included the following actors in the cast, their roles were cut from the released picture: Joseph Granby ( Gen. Fuentes ), Harry Kingston ( Don Garcia ), Fernanda Eliscu ( Fuentes' wife ), Lisa Fusaro ( Garcia's wife ) and Belle Mitchell ( Nacio's wife ). According to a Dec 1956 NYT article, Eli Wallach was offered a role in the picture but turned it down. A modern source adds Brando's future wife, Movita Castenada, to the cast as an extra, and notes that Philip Rhodes acted as Brando's makeup artist and that Sam Shaw served as the still photographer.
       Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that other studios, including Republic, had been interesting in producing a biography of Zapata, but the PCA discouraged them from pursuing the subject. According to a Jun 1948 memo in the PCA's files, in 1940, Nelson Rockefeller, the head of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, asked Addison Durland, the PCA's chief foreign relations official, to investigate the suitability of Zapata as the subject of a motion picture. Durland concluded that it would not be advisable for any American company to produce a film about Zapata for a variety of reasons, including possible controversy over presenting a heroic portrayal of a revolutionary leader who could be perceived as Communistic. Durland also cited Zapata's unsavory reputation with Mexican religious leaders and the difficulties in presenting an accurate representation of a time period critical to Mexican history as reasons why the picture should not be made. Although Fox was apprised of the PCA's reluctance to approve the subject, the studio pursued it and eventually received approval from the PCA.
       According to HR news items and studio publicity, the picture was partially shot on location at sites near the Rio Grande River in Texas, including Del Rio, McAllen, Roma, Laredo, San Ygnacio and Dolores. Other sequences were filmed in Durango, CO. Although studio records indicate that Fox wanted to shoot the picture partially in Mexico, contemporary sources reported that friction between the Mexican and U.S. governments prevented filming there. According to a 17 Jun 1951 NYT article, Mexican filmmakers hoped to produce a picture about Zapata themselves, and the government did not feel it was appropriate to cooperate with an American company. In a 5 Apr 1952 letter to SatRev , however, Kazan asserted that the refusal to extend cooperation was due to political pressures from Communist leaders, who did not consider Kazan and Steinbeck's depiction of Zapata to be accurate.
       Fox did negotiate with the Mexican government for approval of the screenplay, however, so that the film would be distributed in Mexico. Memos indicate that in order to satisfy governmental censors' reservations about the film, Fox agreed to produce two versions of certain scenes: one for distribution in the United States and Europe, and another for exhibition in Mexico. Among the scenes contested by Mexican historian and technical advisor Professor Sologuren, and either shot twice or eliminated, were the sequence in which Zapata shoots "Pablo," which in the Mexican version was altered so that Zapata did not himself execute his friend; references to Zapata's illiteracy; and scenes of Josefa squatting on the ground to wash clothes. Although a 13 Aug 1952 HR news item stated that the general release of the film in Mexico had been approved by the Mexican government, apparently without any cuts, Var reported on 3 Sep 1952 that the film had encountered difficulties with Mexican distribution. The news item stated: "After more than six months of huddles, the National Cinematographic Board, dropped the exhibition ban on the film when it was agreed to delete two reels of the production." The item added that the scenes to be cut "allegedly glorify Gen. Emiliano Zapata...at the expense of Gen. Francisco I. Madero, the first Revolutionary president," according to Mexican officials.
       Viva Zapata! received an Academy Award nomination for Best Story and Screenplay, and Brando was nominated for Best Actor. Anthony Quinn won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Brando received an award for Best Male Performance at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival and also won the Best Actor award from the British Film Academy in Mar 1953. The film was also named one of the top ten films of the year by NYT . On 3 Nov 1952, Lux Radio Theatre broadcast a version of the story starring Charlton Heston and Jean Peters. A 1970 Mexican production about Zapata, entitled Emiliano Zapata , was directed by Felipe Cazals and starred Antonio Aguilar in the title role. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Apr 52
pp. 1954-55, 183
Box Office
9 Feb 1952.
---
Daily Variety
6 Feb 52
p. 3.
Film Daily
6 Feb 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Citizen-News
13 Mar 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Sep 1947
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Nov 1948
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 51
p. 9
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 51
p. 3, 8
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jun 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 51
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 51
p. 5, 11
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jan 52
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 52
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Feb 52
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 52
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 52
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 53
p. 3.
Life
25 Feb 1952.
---
Los Angeles Daily News
5 Jul 1951.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
13 Jan 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Nov 1948.
---
Motion Picture Daily
6 Feb 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Feb 52
p. 1229.
New York Times
25 Sep 1940.
---
New York Times
31 Aug 1947.
---
New York Times
12 Jan 1949.
---
New York Times
17 Jun 1951.
---
New York Times
7 Feb 1952.
p. 31.
New York Times
8 Feb 1952.
p. 19.
New York Times
17 Feb 1952.
---
New York Times
16 Dec 1956.
---
Newsweek
4 Feb 1952.
p. 78.
Saturday Review
9 Feb 1952.
---
Saturday Review
1 Mar 1942.
---
Saturday Review
5 Apr 1952.
---
Time
11 Feb 1952.
---
Variety
6 Feb 1952.
p. 6.
Variety
5 Mar 1952.
---
Variety
3 Sep 1952.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Asst prod mgr
Tech adv and Spanish instructor
Scr supv
Unit casting dir
Unit casting dir
Asst to Kazan
Interpreter and casting asst
STAND INS
Stunt rider
Marlon Brando's stand-in
SOURCES
SONGS
"Serenata Mexicana," music and lyrics by Manuel M. Ponce
"La rielera," Mexican folk song, music arranged by Ruth Parker Taichert
"El venadito," "La valentina," "Pajarillo barranqueno," "Las mananitas" and "Adelita," Mexican folk songs.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Emiliano Zapata
The Beloved Tiger
The Life of Emiliano Zapata
The Tiger
Zapata
Zapata, the Little Tiger
Release Date:
March 1952
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 7 February 1952
Los Angeles opening: 12 March 1952
Production Date:
29 May--late July 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
7 February 1952
Copyright Number:
LP1623
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
110 or 112-113
Length(in feet):
9,910
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15345
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1909, a delegation of Indians from the Mexican state of Morelos travel to Mexico City to plead for the return of land stolen from them. They are received by president Porfirio Díaz, who has ruled as dictator for thirty-four years, and his preferential treatment of landowners is revealed by his condescending attitude toward the peasants. One of the men, Emiliano Zapata, insists that Díaz give them authority to enforce their rights, and Díaz circles Zapata's name on the petition so that he can be watched in the future. Back in Morales, when the Indians attempt to survey their stolen land, soldiers set up a machine gun and a massacre begins. Zapata leads the fight against the soldiers, and his actions make him a wanted criminal. While Zapata hides in the mountains with his brother Eufemio, friend Pablo and follower Soldadera, news of his stand against Díaz' corruption spreads, and he is visited by journalist and political zealot Fernando Aguirre. Fernando suggests that Zapata join the cause of Francisco Indalecio Madero, an exiled Mexican leader attempting to overthrow Díaz, but Zapata, reluctant to trust someone he does not know, sends Pablo to meet him. Zapata then goes with Eufemio to a nearby town, where he meets with his sweetheart Josefa, whose storeowner father, Señor Espejo, refuses to allow her to marry the outlaw. Hoping to become respectable, Zapata, renowned for his knowledge of horses, accepts a job with Don Nacio de la Torre, who succeeds in obtaining a pardon for him. When Pablo and Fernando return from meeting with Madero, they urge Zapata to join him, but Zapata, hoping for a peaceful ... +


In 1909, a delegation of Indians from the Mexican state of Morelos travel to Mexico City to plead for the return of land stolen from them. They are received by president Porfirio Díaz, who has ruled as dictator for thirty-four years, and his preferential treatment of landowners is revealed by his condescending attitude toward the peasants. One of the men, Emiliano Zapata, insists that Díaz give them authority to enforce their rights, and Díaz circles Zapata's name on the petition so that he can be watched in the future. Back in Morales, when the Indians attempt to survey their stolen land, soldiers set up a machine gun and a massacre begins. Zapata leads the fight against the soldiers, and his actions make him a wanted criminal. While Zapata hides in the mountains with his brother Eufemio, friend Pablo and follower Soldadera, news of his stand against Díaz' corruption spreads, and he is visited by journalist and political zealot Fernando Aguirre. Fernando suggests that Zapata join the cause of Francisco Indalecio Madero, an exiled Mexican leader attempting to overthrow Díaz, but Zapata, reluctant to trust someone he does not know, sends Pablo to meet him. Zapata then goes with Eufemio to a nearby town, where he meets with his sweetheart Josefa, whose storeowner father, Señor Espejo, refuses to allow her to marry the outlaw. Hoping to become respectable, Zapata, renowned for his knowledge of horses, accepts a job with Don Nacio de la Torre, who succeeds in obtaining a pardon for him. When Pablo and Fernando return from meeting with Madero, they urge Zapata to join him, but Zapata, hoping for a peaceful life with Josefa, refuses. Before Zapata can win Josefa's hand, however, he is outraged by the Federales' cruel treatment of an old Indian man, and kills the soldiers. Espejo again forbids Zapata to marry his daughter, but Zapata's popularity with the people is solidified when they prevent the police from arresting him. As the weeks pass, Zapata and his followers engage in battles with Díaz' soldiers, and one day, Zapata rewards a brave youngster with his own treasured white horse. When Madera names Zapata his general in the south, as Pancho Villa is his general in the north, Espejo allows Zapata to court Josefa. After Díaz flees Mexico and Madera assumes control of the government, Josefa and Zapata marry, and on their wedding night, Josefa begins to teach her husband how to read. Soon after, Zapata visits Madera in Mexico City and is infuriated when the well-meaning but naive Madera offers him a rich estate as reward for his support, then declares that the reinstatement of the Indians' land will take time. Fernando cynically states that although Madera is honest, he is controlled by the same men surrounding Díaz, but Zapata decides to give Madera time to prove himself. Corrupt general Huerta urges Madera to kill Zapata, who he thinks is too powerful, although Pablo persuades Madera to visit Zapata in Morales and see him with the people. Madera attends a celebration in Zapata's village, where the men turn in their weapons, but the fiesta ends when Huerta sends his army in to kill Zapata. Forced again to fight, Zapata engages in many battles with Huerta's forces, while Madera is held captive and then assassinated. Soon after, an ambush on Zapata's forces leads him to suspect that a traitor has betrayed him, and when he learns that Pablo had been communicating with Madera, he executes his old friend himself. Huerta is soon defeated, and Villa and Zapata meet with other revolutionary leaders in Mexico City, where it is decided that the weary Zapata will become the president. Later, a delegation from Morales visits Zapata to inform him that Eufemio has turned into a despot, stealing land and other men's wives. Infuriated when he finds himself circling the leader's name on the petition, Zapata resigns and returns home to confront Eufemio. Eufemio defends his actions, remarking that Zapata has remained poor, then is killed by the husband of a woman he has seduced. Sick of politics, Zapata returns to his army, and the new president, spurred on by Fernando, decides that in order to consolidate his power, Zapata must be killed. Using a cache of ammunition as bait, a trap is laid, and although Josefa urges Zapata not to go, he travels to the fort where the ammunition is supposedly held. There, Col. Jesús Guajardo reunites Zapata with his beloved white horse before he is shot by dozens of soldiers. After the horse escapes, Zapata's mutilated body is displayed in a nearby village courtyard. The people refuse to accept that the corpse is Zapata's, however, and believe that his horse, running free in the mountains, is a sign that he will return when he is needed. +

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

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