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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Sangre y Arena

Blood and Sand (1941) on IMDb

Plot Overview

A critic of the bullfights in old Spain describes one matador as “a comet.” A comet starts out as a little speck in the field of stars. Then it begins crawling across the heavens. When it gets close enough it ignites bathing the night sky in its light. Once past its peak, though, it fades out. If we're lucky we'll get a glimpse of a final blaze of glory on its return path before it's gone for good.

fishingJuan a dirt poor Spanish urchin in old Seville subsists on a gruel called “gazpacho and rotten cod fish.” In his bed he fantasizes about his famous matador father Gallardo whose death left wife and daughter to scrub floors and tote produce, while young Juan sneaks out at night “to play with bulls.” He runs away from home going to Madrid with a cuadrilla of rough and ready (“you whelps of hell”) compañeros. In ten years he's become a fifth rate novillero known for his pluck—reck­less­ness—in the arena. He then returns to Seville where he (Tyrone Power) marries his child­hood sweet­heart Carmen (Linda Darnell) daughter of Pedro Espinosa (Fortunio Bonanova) manager of the ranch owned by aristocrat Don Jose Alvarez (Pedro deCordoba) where young Juan used to fight the bull at night. He finds his stride and becomes top matador in Spain.

Excellencia Jose Alvarez's lovely niece Doña Sol des Muire (Rita Hayworth) has returned from Paris, who being an aficionada of the bull­fight attempts to make Juan one of her throw­away conquests before his star power runs out. Juan's wife Carmen doesn't like her. His mother Señora Augustias (Alla Nazimona) fears Juan will perish in the arena as did his dad. Illiterate Juan who hasn't got the best head for business wants to rejoin his wife and become a cattle­man of sorts. Lots of people are praying, some to The Virgin and some “to a man-God, Jesus of great power.”



Doña Sol prevails upon Juan the bullfighter to join her coterie of friends and family for dinner. There he dines on “potatoes, so small” and pheasant, so tasty he could eat a dozen of them. Says he, “That's the best meal I've ever eaten.” He tells them of his usual fare, gazpacho:

Juan Gallardo: I was raised on it.

onionsgarlicDoña Sol des Muire: Really? How is it made?

Juan Gallardo: Well, you take biscuits and oil and vinegar and some onions and garlic and you, eh, and bread crumbs, and you fry 'em all together in a pan. You throw 'em in a pot: Gazpacho.

Doña Sol des Muire: Sounds lovely.

Captain Pierre Lauren: Doña Sol likes to try everything!

Doña Sol des Muire: If I were a man, I'd try bullfighting. There's nothing more exciting!

The subtext of that exchange was the two of them wanting to enjoy each other's company more. It was a cue for Captain Lauren (George Reeves) her latest suitor to beat a retreat. From there their liaisons led to horse­play, leading to love play, and Carmen recognizing a travesty on her marriage, although adultery could not be explicitly shown on the screen in that era. As such it was an application of, (Prov. 30:20) “Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.” It uses in metaphor a trope such as Michael Lister writing of a finished break­fast: “My appetite was gone. I pushed back my wrecked Adam and Eve on a raft and dropped my napkin on it” (84). Perhaps the adulteress has lost her appetite for her latest man, or perhaps not. She may or may not cover it up as with a napkin. But she will put on a chaste face as wiped clean of the dirt.

We see fellow bullfighter El Nacional (John Carradine) cracking the shells off hard boiled eggs, maybe or maybe not gathering up the fragments. When Doña Sol leaves Juan at the table in order to dance (provocatively) with up-and-coming star Manolo de Palma (Anthony Quinn,) Juan busts his champagne glass and the waiter has to sweep up the pieces. This all gives the film dramatic context.

The brave face over pilfered food is shown throughout the movie. As a boy Juan in passing swipes a glass of wine from a table and an orange from a passing street vendor. He takes a bite out of bread at the ranch. He and his friends have shame­lessly eaten the stolen horse they ran away on. At the bull­fight what passes for finger food is consumed using a steak knife. Fact is the dispatched bull is butchered in a back room and distributed to hungry peasants. There is no shame shown with any of that, nor from the adulteress.

Production Values

” (1941) was directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Its screenplay was written by Jo Swerling based on the novel, Sangre y Arena by Vicente Blasco Ibañez. It stars Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth, Anthony Quinn, J. Carroll Naish, and John Carradine. Power gave a fantastic performance. Alla Nazimova was moving as Juan's fatalistic mother. The cast gave good support. Hayworth could tempt a saint for her beauty and demeanor.

Its certificate was approved per custom in 1941. A guitar solo “Saeta” was performed by Vicente Gomez. The language spoken was English. It was filmed in Techni­color in Mexico. The cinema­tog­raphy was superb. It had an aspect ratio of 1.37 : 1.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This one was a little on the melodramatic side and the story drawn out some­what. The bull­fighting scenes were what made it interesting rather than stupid. There was also a rousing flamenco dance or two. The “beautiful women of Spain” gave it spice.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability for children: Not rated, passed code. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Lister, Michael. The Big Blast. Copyright © 2016 by Michael Lister. Panama City: Pulpwood Press, 1st ed. Print.