“I am ignorant, but I read books. You won’t believe it, everything is useful… “*

by chuckofish

A new month–April already. Did you turn over your calendar? I always forget. Well.

There is a new Star of the Month on TCM: Anthony Quinn. Funnily enough, I was just watching They Died With Their Boots On (1941)–Errol Flynn as Custer–and I commented to the OM, “Boy, Anthony Quinn makes a really good Crazy Horse!”

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He really does, right? Well, you can watch Quinn all month on TCM. Not that I am a great fan of is, but he did make some good (and a few great) movies in his long, illustrious career.

I waited for years to see Viva Zapata (1952). It was unavailable on Netflix (or DVD) for forever, but now it is on TCM. I remember seeing John McCain being interviewed when he was running for president and when he was asked “What is your favorite movie?”, he never hesitated, but launched into an enthusiastic lovesong to Viva Zapata. I thought it was very endearing and I like a guy who feels strongly about a movie, and it made me want to see the movie. But I have to say, having finally seen it, Viva Zapata is not on my list of favorites. It has a screenplay by John Steinbeck (!) and Marlon Brando gives a great performance in the early days of his career, but still, it’s not my cup of tea. The Mexicans are all so needy–they want someone to save them, to lead them (Zapata). They seem so unable to help themselves or to even think of doing so as an option. But the film won a supporting-actor Academy Award for Quinn, nominations for Steinbeck, Brando, composer Alex North, and the art directors and set decorators, plus a best-actor prize for Brando at the Cannes film festival, among other honors.

Quinn also stars in La Strada (1954) which is undeniably one of the great movies of all time. Directed by Federico Fellini and starring the wonderful Giulietta Masina as Gelsomina, it is an unforgettable work of art.

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Richard Basehart also has a part in the movie, playing the Fool. Around this same time he appeared as Ishmael in Moby Dick (1956).

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He was such a hot commodity in the mid-1950s! I always think of him in made-for-tv  movies in the 1970s. Anyway, La Strada won over 50 international awards, including a Best Foreign Language Oscar in 1957. Set your DVR for April 8 at 8 pm EST!

Of course, I always liked Anthony Quinn as Auda Abu Tayi in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and my DP and I enjoyed imitating his pronunciation of the name as children.

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His mantra, “I am a river to my people,” has always been mine as well.

So which is your favorite Anthony Quinn movie? Discuss among yourselves.

*The Fool in La Strada