Seven Cities of Gold (1955)

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Seven Cities of Gold (1955) Poster

In 1769, a Spanish expedition to California seeks to conquer the land and discover its famed gold treasures while missionaries aim to gain new converts and establish a network of Catholic missions.


6/10
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  • Richard Egan in Seven Cities of Gold (1955)
  • Richard Egan in Seven Cities of Gold (1955)
  • Anthony Quinn and Richard Egan in Seven Cities of Gold (1955)
  • Rita Moreno and Richard Egan in Seven Cities of Gold (1955)
  • Rita Moreno in Seven Cities of Gold (1955)
  • Anthony Quinn, Jeffrey Hunter, Rita Moreno, Richard Egan, and Michael Rennie in Seven Cities of Gold (1955)

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User Reviews


14 April 2011 | Bunuel1976
7
| SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD (Robert D. Webb, 1955) ***
Although coming from a different stable (Twentieth Century Fox as opposed to Universal), this historical epic is in the same vein as the contemporaneous KISS OF FIRE (released just a fortnight after this one and my review of which can be accessed elsewhere) but emerges a decidedly more satisfactory movie. For one thing, to the common Spaniards vs. Indians scenario this adds both mythical and mystical elements that render the mixture a thought-provoking one. The former is represented by the ultimately fruitless search for the legendary titular golden kingdoms while the latter applies to Michael Rennie's fine portrayal of crippled but single-minded Jesuit missionary, Fr. Junipero Serra – a real-life figure who was recently beatified by The Vatican and is on his way to becoming a saint!

Despite boasting a notable cast and being a major Hollywood studio 'A' production, this offbeat and worthwhile adventure seems to have literally fallen through the cracks of time because, 14 years into the format, there is still no sign of it ever getting released as a legitimate Widescreen DVD nor, apparently, has it ever been shown on the "Fox Movie Channel" because the copy I landed was sourced from a serviceable but washed-out pan-and-scan VHS! This state of events does not do justice to Lucien Ballard's De Luxe cinematography but, on the other hand, neither exactly does the pedestrian direction from Robert D. Webb – also a previous winner of the Best Assistant Director Oscar for IN OLD CHICAGO (1937) – to its colorful subject; nowhere is this more evident than during a fanciful and thoroughly unexpected sequence (a Bunuelian moment if ever I saw one!) in which The Holy Family unaccountably offer hospitality to Rennie and Richard Egan when they are dispersed in a desert storm!

That the film still remains a superior product (despite bogging down somewhat during the indigenous scenes) is down to the cast: apart from Rennie's monk, as already mentioned, there is top-billed Egan as the hot-headed but, ultimately, self-sacrificing lieutenant of the Spanish conquistador heading the expedition led by Anthony Quinn; the latter, then, is remarkably restrained but undeniably commanding, and well on his way to acquiring star status for himself (which he had mostly enjoyed abroad up to that time!), and also on hand are Jeffrey Hunter (making a belated entry – completely covered in paint, and wigged- out, at that! – as the new Indian chief) and Rita Moreno (as Hunter's sister and Egan's tragic love interest). Incidentally, not only had director Webb already worked with Hunter on a fine Western WHITE FEATHER (1955; where he also portrayed an Indian!) and would soon do so again on the even better THE PROUD ONES (1956)...but, given this film's religious overtones, it is telling that all 4 leads here had been or would subsequently be involved in Biblical epics! Interestingly, Edward Dmytryk was originally announced as director on this one with Cameron Mitchell in the lead; besides, the actual crew members included assistant cameraman Jorge Stahl Jr. (he would be Luis Bunuel's cinematographer on his delightful jungle adventure DEATH IN THE GARDEN the following year) and co-director(!) Rene' Cardona (best-known as the prolific exploitation film-maker behind such infamous fare as SANTA CLAUS {1959} and NIGHT OF THE BLOODY APES {1969})!

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