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Captain from Castile/B, A-

US/1947/Color/Fullscreen 1.33:1/Mono/141 minutes/Directed by Henry King/Starring Tyrone Power. Lee J. Cobb/Fox/34 Chaps/2 discs/CLV/$49.98

The Captain from Castile harks back to the glory days of studio epics. Filmed in ravishing Technicolor, this is a big film production that spares little expense. Colorful sets of both Spain and the new world are spectacular. Set during the Spanish conquest of the Americas, Fox’s then reigning action star Tyrone Power stars as nobleman Pedro de Vargas.

The first half of the film set in Spain depicts young de Vargas escape from the powers of the Inquisition. These scenes developing the de Vargas character and his escape to join the Cortez Expedition to Mexico are consistently exciting. Power’s bravura screen presence brings all the grandeur of the time to life.

Logically, the march through Mexico should provide the best moments of The Captain from Castile, but this is not the case. The production seems bogged down by its own size. The spectacular scenes of the Cortez march, replete with thousands of extra, fails to ignite beyond static compositions. The personal drama of the de Vargas family is mostly lost in the Mexican section despite some awkward script maneuvers.

Tyrone Power is one of the great screen heroes. Too bad more of his work is not available on laser disc. The Captain from Castile is an excellent example of Power’s screen presence. Power’s magic bridges the sexes. Men want to throw a arm over his shoulder in camaraderie and women often swoon at the combination of classic features and masculinity. Lee J. Cobb brings enormous brio to the supporting role of Juan Garcia. Cobb, not known for his action roles is very enjoyable as Power’s sidekick.

Henry King directs the spectacle with all the command of a general, but the limp script lets him down. The musical score by Alfred Newman is terrific. Still, it can’t create action out of a static story.

The Technicolor images are stunning in this Fox Video presentation. Aside from some minor sporadic color shifting, the palette is consistently rich and accurate. The source material for The Captain from Castile is excellent and there is little loss in translation to laser. Detail is very revealing. Contrast levels are excellent. Color is lively day or night. The monaural sound is very clean and while the range of Newman’s score doesn’t achieve levels equivalent to modern recordings, few screen composers will ever deliver a more rousing action score.