...The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power and the growth of corporate propaganda against democracy.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Pride and the Passion


The Pride and the Passion (1957) is a historical film drama starring Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren made by Stanley Kramer Productions. Set in the Napoleonic era, it is the story of a British officer (Grant) who has orders to retrieve a huge cannon from Spain and take it to the British forces by ship. But first the leader of the Spanish guerrillas (Sinatra) wants to transport the cannon 1,000 km across Spain to help in the capture of Ávila from the French before he releases the cannon to the British. Most of the movie deals with the hardships of transporting the cannon across rivers and through mountains while evading the occupying French forces and culminates in the final battle for Ávila. A sub-plot is the struggle for the affections of Loren by the two officers.



During the Peninsular War, Napoleon's armies overrun Spain. An enormous cannon, belonging to a Spanish army, is abandoned when it slows down the army's retreat. French cavalrymen are dispatched to retrieve it.

Britain, Spain's ally, sends Royal Navy captain Anthony Trumbull (Grant) to find the cannon and see that it is handed over to British forces. However, when Trumbull arrives at the Spanish headquarters, he finds that it has been evacuated and is now occupied by a guerrilla band led by the French-hating Miguel (Sinatra). Miguel agrees to help Trumbull search for the cannon, although the two men come to dislike each other. One cause of their enmity is Miguel's mistress Juana (Sophia Loren), who falls in love with Trumbull.

Meanwhile, sadistic General Jouvet (Theodore Bikel), the French commander in Avila, orders the execution of Spaniards who do not give information of the cannon's whereabouts. The cannon has in fact undergone an arduous journey in the direction of Avila, which Miguel is obsessed with capturing.

The guerrilla band, whose ranks have swelled considerably, almost loses the cannon when General Jouvet deploys artillery near a mountain pass that they need to use to get to Avila. With help from the local populace, they get the cannon through, although it rolls down a hillside and is badly damaged.

The cannon is hidden in a cathedral while it is repaired, once having to be disguised as an ornamental piece during a religious celebration. French officers are informed about the cannon's presence, however, but the cannon has been moved by the time the officers arrived and they scorn the informant.

When the cannon finally arrives at the guerrillas' camp near Avila, Trumbull and Miguel prepare to attack the city. However, Avila is defended by strong walls and eighty cannons, Trumbull going so far to estimate that half of the guerrillas will be killed during the assault. He tries to convince Juana not to participate in the attack, but, the next day, she goes with the men.

The cannon is used to breach the walls, and, despite suffering heavy losses (including Juana and Miguel), the guerrillas get inside the city. Jouvet is killed and the remaining French troops are overrun in the town square. After the battle, Trumbull places Miguel's body in front of the statue of Avila's patron saint.

The cannon appears to have been based on a real prototype from Jaipur, in India, the Jaivana Cannon, one of the largest cannon ever built.

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