22 October 2013 | nrosullivan
Difficult to know how to rate this film: crap or classic !!
It is a bit of both, of course, and should definitely not be out of circulation. On the negative side, the plot is pretty "cheesy" and Anthony Steel is not "steel" but "wooden." As is everybody else. But the film is really a vehicle for some unique music-making and the "sub-plot" is an interesting travelogue of Spain before the tourists wrecked it !
Antonio, certainly at the time, was regarded as the greatest Flamenco dancer of all time, especially in England (what did they know ?)Whether he was or not, who knows but he is pretty spectacular ! His rendering of Pablo Sarasate's "Zapateado" is magical. Much of the music is conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, no less; one of the great conductors of history, albeit slightly eccentric in his choice of music. But Falla was right up his street.
A performance of Léonide Massine's production of Falla's "El Amor Brujo." with Antonio playing the lead and Sir Thomas Beecham conducting can only be described as a "classic." There really is nothing else like it anywhere. As a side issue, it is fascinating to see Spain before the British wrecked it. The photography is good. The film originally was in CinemaScope, although, sadly, I have not seen that. Finally, Manuel and the Music of the Mountains had a smash hit with the "Honeymoon Theme."
So lots of positives ! If you can put up with Anthony Steel "hamming" his way through and admittedly lousy part (and he was a British "Matinée Idol" alongside Dirk Bogarde, after all, even if it is no great surprise that his new wife fell for the passionate and sexy "Latin Lover" Antonio!) this film does have some unique elements. I reckon it is worth bringing back for the exceptional "El Amor Brujo" alone - even if my own favourite bit of magic is Antonio dancing down the road to Sarasate's "Zapateado." There aren't many films like this and, because the plot is pretty rotten and the acting rather poor and very dated, people like Amazon probably don't realise that it is a classic !