Seven Cities of Gold

1955

Adventure / Biography / History

0
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 50%
IMDb Rating 5.9 10 447

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
September 29, 2021 at 02:07 PM

Director

Cast

John Doucette as Juan Coronel
Richard Egan as Lieutenant Jose Mendoza
Michael Rennie as Father Junipero Serra
720p.WEB
944.78 MB
1280*544
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 42 min
P/S counting...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by jpdoherty 6 / 10

Good Colourful Fox Historical Adventure

20th Century Fox's SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD (1955) is a handsome looking colourful adventure story set in early California in 1769. Yet it has been pilloried by some for not being more than it is. A pity really, for it is quite an enjoyable picture with great atmosphere nicely played by a committed cast and directed with good attention to detail by Robert D. Webb. This was another elaborate fifties Fox production photographed in beautiful Cinemascope and Delux color by the brilliant Lucian Ballard. It was produced for the studio by Robert Webb & Barbara McLean and was expertly written for the screen by Richard L. Breen and John C. Higgins from a novel by Isabelle Ziegler.

A marvellous sense of time and place is established from the beginning as we follow the procession of the mighty Spanish Conquistators under Captain Portola (Anthony Quinn) in the quest for the famous seven deposits of gold the Indians had left behind. Accompanying the army is Father Junipero Serra (Michael Rennie) the revered Jesuit monk who founded the missions of San Diego and was responsible for making peace with the Diegueno Indians. One of Portola's young officers Jose Mendoza (Richard Egan) falls for the charms of a beautiful Indian girl Ula (Rita Moreno) and begins an affair with her. But when he tells her he cannot take her back with him she becomes offended, flees from him in a rage and accidentally falls to her death from a cliff top. The erstwhile peaceful Indians now want blood and vow to attack the Spanish stronghold unless Jose is handed over to them. At first Captain Portola will not adhere to the Indian demand but later Jose (just like Jeff Chandler's character in TWO FLAGS WEST) to allay any fear of an attack, sacrifices himself and to the ominous and incessant beat of the Indian war drums walks out of the fort gates to his preordained fate. The sequence is deeply moving and heartfelt!

Performances are generally good throughout with Rennie being a standout in his best role since "The Day The Earth Stood Still" (1951). As the zealous Father Serra he is sincere and convincing. Good too is Richard Egan as the ill-fated Jose. A likable actor - Egan never got his fair dues for his screen efforts (He stole the acting honours from everyone around him in "Untamed" the same year). But the most disappointing bit of casting in SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD has to be Anthony Quinn. For an actor who has second billing in such a big production his part is not only poorly written but it is under written. He is hardly in the picture at all and when he does make an appearance his presence is merely perfunctory. Any of a dozen Hollywood bit players could well have played his part.

One of the most stirring aspects of the picture is the extraordinary music by Hugo Friedhofer. A vital and arresting score full of appropriate Spanish, Mexican and Latin rhythms. The composer's vast knowledge of this music shines through. The main title is a broad passionate Granada-like Spanish cue with blazing trumpet that points up the all-conquering Conquistadors and is heard in different guises (including a spirited march variation) as the picture progresses. There is a religious theme for Father Serra as well as some wonderful mariachi cues and indigenous folk songs. One such song 'Senorita Carmelita' is sung by the troopers (including Egan) at an open-air feast. It is infectious and totally irresistible! SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD is Friedhofer's best and most enjoyable adventure score!

SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD is a much better movie than its reputation reveals and deserves reappraisal for (1) Its authentic historical setting (How many movies besides "Captain From Castile" can you think of that covers the same period in American history?). (2) Its fine performances. (3) Its splendid Cinemascope/Color cinematography and (4) its rollicking musical score.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 6 / 10

His real faith

If you want to know about the founding of the city I consider the most beautiful in America, San Diego, than Seven Cities Of Gold is the film for you. It's a reverential account from a historical novel with the central figures Gaspar DePortola the soldier/conquistador who took care of the military end of things and Father Junipero Serra who handled the spiritual details. His mission which became the center of San Diego was the first of many he would found in the conquest of California.

Anthony Quinn is Portola and he's certainly my idea of a Spanish conquistador. He's a believer, but has more faith in his ammunition and artillery than in the maxim of the Lord will provide.

The figure of Father Junipero Serra is a controversial one in terms of the damage he did to the Indian culture. But the Catholic church in the Spanish and Portugese conquests also had a role in blunting somewhat the impact of the gold hungry conquistadors, it did shield their converts from the seamier depredations of European society. Serra who is played by Michael Rennie is done in the same saintly manner that Rennie played St. Peter in The Robe and Demetrius And The Gladiators. By all accounts Serra was a spartan figure for a priest.

Jeffrey Hunter plays a new young Indian chief who is not crazy about these people invading his neighborhood. That concern is heightened exponentially after his sister Rita Moreno is despoiled by one of the Spanish soldiers looking for a little action. In fact it throws the fate of the whole expedition in doubt.

Richard Egan is the despoiler who has some big decisions to make. Egan who was a serious Catholic in real life makes a decision commensurate with his real faith.

Real historians might have trouble with Seven Cities Of Gold. But as entertainment, especially if one is Catholic, this should please you.

Reviewed by Bunuel1976 7 / 10

SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD (Robert D. Webb, 1955) ***

Although coming from a different stable (Twentieth Century Fox as opposed to Universal), this historical epic is in the same vein as the contemporaneous KISS OF FIRE (released just a fortnight after this one and my review of which can be accessed elsewhere) but emerges a decidedly more satisfactory movie. For one thing, to the common Spaniards vs. Indians scenario this adds both mythical and mystical elements that render the mixture a thought-provoking one. The former is represented by the ultimately fruitless search for the legendary titular golden kingdoms while the latter applies to Michael Rennie's fine portrayal of crippled but single-minded Jesuit missionary, Fr. Junipero Serra – a real-life figure who was recently beatified by The Vatican and is on his way to becoming a saint!

Despite boasting a notable cast and being a major Hollywood studio 'A' production, this offbeat and worthwhile adventure seems to have literally fallen through the cracks of time because, 14 years into the format, there is still no sign of it ever getting released as a legitimate Widescreen DVD nor, apparently, has it ever been shown on the "Fox Movie Channel" because the copy I landed was sourced from a serviceable but washed-out pan-and-scan VHS! This state of events does not do justice to Lucien Ballard's De Luxe cinematography but, on the other hand, neither exactly does the pedestrian direction from Robert D. Webb – also a previous winner of the Best Assistant Director Oscar for IN OLD CHICAGO (1937) – to its colorful subject; nowhere is this more evident than during a fanciful and thoroughly unexpected sequence (a Bunuelian moment if ever I saw one!) in which The Holy Family unaccountably offer hospitality to Rennie and Richard Egan when they are dispersed in a desert storm!

That the film still remains a superior product (despite bogging down somewhat during the indigenous scenes) is down to the cast: apart from Rennie's monk, as already mentioned, there is top-billed Egan as the hot-headed but, ultimately, self-sacrificing lieutenant of the Spanish conquistador heading the expedition led by Anthony Quinn; the latter, then, is remarkably restrained but undeniably commanding, and well on his way to acquiring star status for himself (which he had mostly enjoyed abroad up to that time!), and also on hand are Jeffrey Hunter (making a belated entry – completely covered in paint, and wigged- out, at that! – as the new Indian chief) and Rita Moreno (as Hunter's sister and Egan's tragic love interest). Incidentally, not only had director Webb already worked with Hunter on a fine Western WHITE FEATHER (1955; where he also portrayed an Indian!) and would soon do so again on the even better THE PROUD ONES (1956)...but, given this film's religious overtones, it is telling that all 4 leads here had been or would subsequently be involved in Biblical epics! Interestingly, Edward Dmytryk was originally announced as director on this one with Cameron Mitchell in the lead; besides, the actual crew members included assistant cameraman Jorge Stahl Jr. (he would be Luis Bunuel's cinematographer on his delightful jungle adventure DEATH IN THE GARDEN the following year) and co-director(!) Rene' Cardona (best-known as the prolific exploitation film-maker behind such infamous fare as SANTA CLAUS {1959} and NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES {1969})!

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