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Featuring a cast loaded with Hollywood box office biggies, Blood and Sand was a cannot-miss theatrical release in 1941. With the dramatic setting of the bullring, the ever-present risk of injury or death, and the popularity of Ernest Hemingway’s 1932 Death in the Afternoon, a film about bullfighting would seem a natural subject for the silver screen. Blood and Sand, based on the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibanez and directed by Rouben Mamoulian, tells the story of a young boy whose father, a famous bullfighter, was killed in the ring. Juan Gallardo (Tyrone Power) is that boy who grows up to become Spain’s leading matador. Juan engages ex-bullfighter Garabato (J.Carrol Naish) as his valet, rescues his mother (Alla Nazimova) from poverty, and marries his lifelong sweetheart Carmen Espinosa (Linda Darnell). To complicate matters, Gallardo becomes enamored of a wealthy young socialite Doña Sol des Muire (Rita Hayworth). This affair jeopardizes his successful marriage and causes Gallardo to lose his edge in the bull ring as well as his wealth. Eventually, there is a confrontation between Juan’s wife and his mistress, and his marriage finally unravels. After witnessing the death of old friend Nacional (John Carradine) who is fatally gored by a bull, Gallardo’s standing as a leading matador is superseded in the ring by former childhood friend, Manolo de Palma (Anthony Quinn). The film concludes, appropriately enough with Gallardo’s ultimate moment of truth in the bull ring.
For a film of this age, the picture quality is quite good. Given the Technicolor film and 1.37:1 aspect ratio, the gorgeous faces of Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, and Rita Hayworth look absolutely resplendent. There is a minimal amount of grain and , a few bits of blurring aside, a pretty sharp picture.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack has boxy but acceptable mono sound. There is noticeable distortion on the louder passages. Dialogue is clearly presented.
The rather slender package of extras is limited to commentaries by director of photography Richard Crudo.
The Definitive Word
While Blood and Sand is a fairly predictable film with some seriously dated dialogue, there is potent on-screen chemistry between Power and his two female stars. The white heat of the bull ring and its serious consequences are well conveyed by the cinematographers. Viewers will be rewarded with a very good restoration of an extremely old Technicolor film, thanks to the cinema lab wizards at 20th Century Fox. An enjoyable watch that is easy to recommend to all moviegoers.
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