The Pride and the Passion
- Cary Grant as Capt. Anthony Trumbull
- Frank Sinatra as Miguel
- Sophia Loren as Juana
- Theodore Bikel as General Jouvet
Much castigated in its day, The Pride and the Passion still holds up as a thrilling war/adventure film with an eye-catching cast and top-notch production values. Yes it has its flaws but one can’t help but be swept under the epic spell the film casts under the direction of Stanley Kramer.
1810, Napoleon’s forces have invaded Spain. A large cannon belonging to the Spanish has been abandoned in the countryside and the French army are searching for it. Captain Anthony Trumbull, of the Royal Navy and Spain’s ally in fighting Napoleon’s forces arrives in Spain to ensure that the cannon is handed to British forces. Expecting to meet another Captain, Anthony is met with Miguel, the leader of a guerrilla band. The two men take an instant dislike to each other. Trumbull wants Miguel to help him shift the large cannon to British forces, Miguel agrees only if the Captain helps make the arduous journey to Avila, which is now occupied by the French with the intent on charging it. Trumbull reluctantly agrees with Miguel and they set off on the long, agonizing journey with the guerrilla band and Juana, Miguel’s seductive lover. Together the band endures harsh weather, enemy attack and pain to ensure the cannon arrives at its destination. Conflict also arises between Miguel and Anthony as Juana begins to fall for the British captain. Prepare for exciting and thrilling viewing as The Pride and the Passion takes you on the perilous journey as the band moves the enormous cannon ever close to Avila.
I think I’ll get the flaws of the film out the way first, as I do believe that the positives outweigh the negatives in this film. Firstly, the film does run for a bit longer than it should, perhaps if it had focused solely on the journey it may have resolved quicker. Also, the main villain a French army commander played by Theodore Bikel is supposed to be threatening but we see so little of him that his presence is rather wasted within the framework of the film. If he had been featured more and given a better story, his character may have been more interesting than he is in the final product.
Now onto the positives of the picture. The cast is the major draw of this, especially the central trio. Cary Grant, although it isn’t his best role, manages to inject his law-abiding and buttoned-up character with a charm and wit, that is present in many of his scenes with Frank Sinatra. Much of the criticism of the film centred on Sinatra’s Spanish accent, which although not perfect is quite convincing and not as bad as people make out. Sinatra manages to capture a dynamic and hot-headed edge within his character of Miguel, who although he despises the Captain, he eventually comes to respect him. This conflict is neatly executed as we watch two different men accustomed to different ways eventually realise that they’re not actually that different. Sophia Loren adds sex appeal to her character Juana, and she has sizzling chemistry with both Sinatra and Grant. She is also able to show the deep-seated pain within her character, the reasons why she is risking her life in this daring mission and how she is torn between Miguel and the captain. Perhaps the biggest star of the picture is the production values which are second to none. The luscious cinematography captures the natural beauty of Spain’s countryside and the danger as it is invaded. Many scenes linger in the memory; the raising of the cannon, Juana’s sensual flamenco dance, the perilous journey through enemy quarters and the final battle at Avila. The adventurous music score is unbeatable at conveying the many perils that face the characters as they near Avila. Although not known for directing adventure movies, Stanley Kramer certainly acquits himself well with The Pride and the Passion.
Tense, dramatic and thrilling, The Pride and the Passion may not be the best epic to emerge from Hollywood, but it is certainly worth a look because of its credentials and excellent cast.