Blood and Sand
To star in its lavish Technicolor remake of the 1922 Rudolph Valentino classic "Blood and Sand," 20th Century Fox selected three of the most beautiful stars in its extensive stable: Tyrone Power, Rita Hayworth and Linda Darnell. The plot of the 1941 version follows closely the original, chronicling the rise to stardom of the brash toreador Juan Gallardo (Power.) The pressures of his fame prove daunting, and, torn between the love of his faithful childhood sweetheart (Darnell,) and that of a scheming, seductive socialite (Hayworth,) Juan is finally driven to destruction.
An unquestionable victory of style over content, "Blood and Sand" is elevated by the photogenic appeal of the star trio, all of whom acquit themselves ably. The supporting cast is fascinating, and includes bullfighters Anthony Quinn and John Carradine, Nazimova as Power's mother, Superman George Reeves as a Hayworth suitor, and Laird Cregar as an outrageously queeny critic. Gilding the lily, MGM threw in every manner of Spanish detail, including authentic bullfighting footage, and some terrific Flamenco dancing and singing. There is even a solo by the legendary guitarist Vicente Gomez. Trained as a theater director, Rouben Mamoulian constructed a number of striking, painterly compositions, highlighted by dramatic, atmospheric lighting. Toss in the ornate Travis Banton costumes, the dazzling, vintage Technicolor, and you have Hollywood at its extravagant best.
Fox has just transferred its colorful, Iberian postcard to Blu-ray, and with superb technical results. The high-definition visuals are often eerily lifelike. And it is a treat to glimpse the legendary stars at the peak of their youthful beauty. The color is rich and well-balanced, and the soundtrack comes through with clarity. Sadly, the Blu-ray contains no special features, only an optional audio commentary. Certainly a film this famous would be an ideal subject for some sort of featurette. Even a few film shorts or newsreels of the period would have been welcome additions.
Despite the barebones presentation, Fox's "Blood and Sand" Blu-ray offers a highly entertaining film in remarkable quality. And, currently available at an introductory price well under $20., it's an excellent value.
Blood and Sand (1941)