Captain from Castile (1947) Blu-ray Review: A Power-fully Fun Swashbuckler

Twilight Time foils foes with a splendid classic Hollywood adventure tale starring Tyrone Power.
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Even at 141 minutes in length, Henry King's lavish big-budgeted adaptation of Samuel Shellabarger's 1945 novel Captain from Castile only covers the first half of its source material. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you ‒ the 1947 swashbuckler epic from 20th Century Fox still captures the grace and beauty of classic historical adventures. It also serves as a great reminder of how outrageously preposterous Hollywood's old-school casting agents could get back then, as evidenced by co-star Lee J. Cobb (The Exorcist, Lawman) as a roaming adventurer named Juan García. One wonders if it didn't inspire Russell Mulcahy's casting of Sean Connery in Highlander nearly 40 years later.

Here, the great Tyrone Power plays our intrepid titular hero, Pedro de Vargas. After saving an Aztec slave (Jay Silverheels, who would later achieve fame on the small screen as Tonto on The Lone Ranger), Tyrone runs afoul with bad guy John Sutton (My Cousin Rachel, The Bat), who enjoys his high-ranking role in the Inquisition way too much. To the point where he arrests Tyrone's family and kills his kid sister, even. This, of course, does not please our protagonist, who promptly extracts revenge before setting sail for the New World with newfound friends Lee J. Cobb (whose bulky exterior is topped by a hilariously puffy wig), barmaid Jean Peters, and expedition leader Cesar Romero (Batman).

Relocating to Mexico (where the entire film was shot) for the second half of the tale, our adventurers discover ‒ much to their perplexed amazement ‒ that the natives don't like a bunch of strangers coming in to exchange precious gold for deadly diseases. Tensions and passions alike flare up as Captain from Castile continues (replete with all the religious and moral values you'd expect from a late '40s movie), giving us grand little appearances from character actor greats such as Thomas Gomez, Alan Mowbray, George Zucco, Marc Lawrence, Antonio Moreno, and Barbara Lawrence. The Technicolor yarn was written by Lamar Trotti (Young Mr. Lincoln), who co-produced with Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck.

Nearly ten years after Captain from Castile made its DVD debut, the folks at Twilight Time have unsheathed this classic classic swashbuckler adventure, adding it to their oft-eclectic (but never disappointing) line-up of Limited Edition releases. The stellar MPEG-4 AVC 1080p encode of this 1.37:1 presentation was ‒ along with most of the extras ‒ taken from existing Fox vault materials, and is quite gorgeous considering the film's age and the Technicolor process of the late '40s. Twilight Time's Blu-ray includes lossless DTS-HD MA tracks in 2.0 and Mono, and English (SDH) subtitles are included just in case any of the actors' phony Spanish accents prove to be too much for you.

An episode from A&E's Biography about star Tyrone Power, an additional featurette about the one-time matinee idol (entitled Tyrone Power and His Leading Ladies), and the film's original (black and white?!) theatrical trailer have been ported over from the 2007 Fox Special Edition DVD. New bonus materials for this BD release include an audio commentary with film historians Rudy Behlmer and Jon Burlingame (moderated by Twilight Time's Nick Redman) and an isolated score of Alfred Newman's rousing soundtrack in DTS-HD MA 2.0. Once again, Julie Kirgo provides the wonderful liner notes for this Twilight Time release, which is limited to only 3,000 copies.

Recommended.

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