Captain from Castile is one of the most ambitious Hollywood productions of its time. The film was made with a massive production budget. Featuring immaculate sets, lavish costumes, and an enormous number of extras, Captain from Castile both looks and feels expensive at every turn. It was an early example of a big-budget Hollywood spectacle before the dawn of CGI effects and the rise of the modern blockbuster. Executive produced by Darryl F. Zanuck (The Longest Day), this is an excellent example of Hollywood spectacle through-and-through.
The film stars Tyrone Power as Pedro de Vargas, a Spanish knight with a thirst for going on adventures. Alongside his friend Juan Garcia (Lee J. Cobb) and a young woman, Catana (Jean Peters), who falls madly in love with Vargas, the trio of characters become entangled within the ever-turning wheels of the expedition and invasion of Mexico by Cortez (Cesar Romero) during the early 1900's. The journey is one of excitement and intrigue.
The film has the heart of an old-school swashbuckler with some good adventure and excitement thrown into the mix. There are numerous sequences which are so lavishly produced it's a wonder to think of these scenes being produced in the 40's, long before modern technologies advanced. The scope of the large scale production is also enormously impressive. Take, for example, the countless extras featured in many of the film's key sequences: it makes the story-line feel even larger and more epic in scope.
The cinematography by Arthur E. Arling (The Yearling) and Charles G. Clarke (Moontide) is richly woven with beautiful framing and quality Technicolor photography. The music score composed by Alfred Newman (The Diary of Anne Frank, All About Eve) is one of the best things going for the film: full of Newman's signature style, the score is beautiful, rich, and bold. The costume designs by Charles Le Maire (All About Eve, The Day The Earth Stood Still) are lavish to behold.
Based on the novel by Samuel Shellabarger (Prince of Foxes), the screenplay by Lamar Trotti (Yellow Sky, With a Song in My Heart) is a straight-forward expedition. The storyline may not be complex but the film is also never a bore to watch. It's entertaining and exciting and the screenplay aids with that.
Directed by Henry King (The Song of Bernadette, Carousel), the filmmaker did a superb job of pulling together so many excellent aspects of the production. The film feels confident and it helps it to be a more fun experience. Though the film doesn't quite hit the mark of being a classic epic the clear ambitions are enough to make up for some shortcomings. Captain from Castile is a entertaining experience that feels like a perfect recipe for a fun Saturday matinee (even when viewing in the comfort of one's home).
Presented in 1080p high definition with an MPEG-4 AVC encode with a high bit-rate. Presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. This is a stunning presentation. The colors are rich, the clarity is strong, and there's nary a speck of dirt or debris on this clean, crisp transfer. The effort that went into this presentation is impressive. The film looks beautiful and the cinematography excels.
Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo and original DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 mono audio. Although these are similar front-based tracks it's nice to have a variety of options on the audio. The lossless resolution of the audio helps the dialogue reproduction and the score clarity.
English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing are provided.
Isolated Music Track (featuring the score by Alfred Newman)
Audio Commentary with film historians Rudy Behlmer, Jon Burlingame, and Nick Redman
Tyrone Power: The Last Idol (SD, 45 min.) is a biography channel documentary about the star of the film and featuring interviews with historians and collaborators.
Tyrone Power and His Leading Ladies (SD, 12 min.) features interviews with several actresses who worked with Tyrone Power over the years as they discuss his star power, charm, and appeal.
Original Theatrical Trailer
Captain from Castile is a fun if light adventure with some entertaining spectacle for a classic Hollywood production. The film has enough charm and wit to be worth a watch. Twilight Time has done a commendable job with this release of the film. It has a superb presentation of the film and a nice assortment of extras.