Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (film)

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The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.jpg
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Produced by Julian Blaustein
Olallo Rubio Jr.
Written by John Gay
Robert Ardrey
Starring Glenn Ford
Paul Henreid
Ingrid Thulin
Charles Boyer
Lee J. Cobb
Music by André Previn
Cinematography Milton R. Krasner
Edited by Ben Lewis
Adrienne Fazan
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • February 7, 1962 (1962-02-07) (Washington, D.C.)
Running time
153 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7,174,000[1]
Box office $4,100,000[1]
For the 1921 film version, see The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (film).

The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a 1962 drama film loosely based on the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. It was directed by Vincente Minnelli and starred Glenn Ford, Ingrid Thulin, Charles Boyer, Lee J. Cobb, Paul Lukas, Yvette Mimieux, Karlheinz Böhm, and Paul Henreid.


In 1936, Madariga is an 80 year old patriarch of a large Argentinian cattle ranch. He has two grandsons - Julio, son of the French Marcelo, and Heinrich, son of the German Karl.

Heinrich returns home from studying in German to reveal he has become a Nazi. Madariaga slaps Heinrich and predicts that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Conquest, War, Pestilence, and Death) will soon devastate the earth; he runs outside into a storm with visions of the four horsemen and then dies in Julio's arms.

In 1938 Julio goes to Paris with Marcelo and befriends the anti-Nazi Etienne Laurier. Julio falls in love with Laurier's wife, Marguerite, and then becomes her lover when Laurier is sent to a concentration camp.

Julio's sister Chi Chi is active in the French resistance and Julio becomes gradually involved as well. Laurier is released from prison a broken man, and Marguerite leaves Julio to care for him.

Eventually both Laurier and Chi Chi are killed by the Germans. Julio risks his life helping British bombers destroy the Nazi headquarters in Normandy. He encounters Heinrich just as the bombs fall on them, killing them both.



The silent film rights to the original story had been purchased by Metro in 1918 for $190,000. There had been discussions by MGM about remaking the film before the American copyright expired in 1946.[2]

The following year MGM producer Sam Marx announced the studio may remake the film as a vehicle for Ricardo Montalban and if they did the story would be updated to World War Two.[3]

Early in 1958 MGM set about clarifying the copyright situation. They had recently authorised a remake of Ben Hur, which looked like it was going to be a big success, and were looking for other old MGM properties to remake. They obtained the necessary rights and announced they would make the movie in June 1958. [2]

Julian Blaustein was assigned as producer.[4] He announced the story would be updated from World War I to World War II:

The driving force of the book, is of love among men instead of hatred. I don't think it can be said often enough that such love is indispensable for all of us if we are to have any future. If a motion picture can dramatise such a theme entertainingly then the motion picture may make a small contribution to peace in the world. It certainly impresses me as being worth the try... The Paris of the occupation, the births of the resistance movements have never been thoroughly explored on the screen to my mind. I'm not interested in trying to recreate the shooting war. That's almost too difficult to realistically do on the screen today. What I want to put on screen is the atmosphere, so that when you sit in the theatre you will feel the hope and frustration of people struggling against invasion and may realize no man is an island.[5]

Robert Ardrey wrote the first script' later on John Gay was bought on to work on it. The movie was, along with a remake of Cimarron, going to be one of MGM's big films for 1960.[6][7][8]

MGM allocated a budget of $4 million and Vincente Minnelli to direct. Filming was pushed back due to the actors strike in 1960.


Early contenders for the male lead - the part originally played by Rudolph Valentino - were MGM contractee George Hamilton, and Maximilian Schell.[9]

Vincente Minnelli wanted Alain Delon and Romy Schneider for the starring roles, but Schneider declined and the producers were adamant that the male lead be an American star.

In June 1960 it was announced that Glenn Ford, who had a long relationship with MGM, would play the lead role.[10] Yvette Mimieux was cast in the ingenue part with Charles Boyer and Claude Dauphin in support, and Ava Gardner in the female lead, the part played by Alice Terry in the 1921 filme.[11] Eventually Garner dropped out and Ingrid Thulin, best known for Wild Strawberries, stepped in.[12]

Ford was paired with an older actress, Ingrid Thulin, making both main roles much older than the book and 1921 film characters, giving more credibility to their relationship than a May–December romance would have. Although Thulin spoke English well, she was dubbed by Angela Lansbury.


Filming was to take place in Paris but proved difficult, in part due to riots due to the situation in Algeria. It was decided to film in Hollywood instead.[13]

One of the most famous scenes of the 1921 movie involved Rudolph Valentino dancing the dance. It was decided not to have a tango scene in the new movie.[14]

Ingrid Thulin later reflected on filming:

It was an interesting experience. I could not conform to their standards of beauty. I tried... After the first few rushes it was obvious that it [the film] would turn out badly. Yet they went right on. Perhaps they couldn't convince themselves that all that money would end in disaster. I really did want to be as beautiful as they wanted. It was terribly difficult. Then I worked very hard to dub the dialogue but they kept changing lines to things I couldn't pronounce. So they had to dub in another voice.[15]

MGM were impressed by the performance of Karl Boehm and signed him to a contract, putting him in such films as Come Fly with Me and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm.

Post Production[edit]

The movie spent a considerable amount of time in post production, causing its budget to increase further. This, combined with the massive cost over-runs of Lady L (which had been postponed) and the remake of Mutiny on the Bounty led to the resignation of MGM's head of production, Sol C. Siegel.[16]


The film had its world premiere in February 1962.[17]

Box Office[edit]

MGM had become aware by April that the film was not going to be able to recoup its cost and stared writing off the losses.[18] Ultimately the movie earned $1,600,000 in the US and Canada and $2,500,000 overseas, incurring an overall loss of $5,853,000.[1]

This, along with the failure of Mutiny on the Bounty and The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, lead to MGM president Joseph Vogel resigning.


It was compared very unfavorably to the famous 1921 version, which propelled Rudolph Valentino to superstardom. Ford, with many films behind him, was not the unknown that Valentino was when he appeared in the 1921 film.[19][20] Ford, 46 years old, also had the disadvantage of trying to reprise a role that Valentino had played when he was 26. Critics also considered Ford severely miscast as a Latin love who, in their minds, should have been played by someone a lot younger[citation needed].

The Los Angeles Times said the filmmakers "have pulled it off. The new "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" restores the pleasure there can he in seeing a good story well told on the screen."[21]

Having gained some positive critical reappraisal in recent years, the film is now considered a masterpiece in France, Argentina and Spain.[citation needed]


André Previn composed the soundtrack score, which Alan and Marilyn Bergman later adapted and wrote lyrics to. The resulting song, "More In Love With You," was recorded by Barbra Streisand for The Movie Album (2003).


  1. ^ a b c "The Eddie Mannix Ledger". Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study{{inconsistent citations}} 
  2. ^ a b M-G-M TO REMAKE A SILENT CLASSIC: Lists 'The Four Horsemen' as '59 'Super' Venture -- 'Passport,' Novel, Bought By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 18 June 1958: 40.
  3. ^ U-I TO FILM NOVEL OF CIRCUS CAREER: More Than $200,000 Reported as Price for 'Gus the Great,' Forthcoming Duncan Book By THOMAS F. BRADYSpecial to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 16 June 1947: 25.
  4. ^ BRANDO COMPANY PLANS FIVE FILMS: Pennebaker, Inc., Will Start 2 Productions in August -- Preminger Signs Writer By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 11 July 1958: 15.
  5. ^ HOLLYWOOD SCENE: Jerry Wald Presents His Treasurer's Report -- Blaustein's 'Horsemen' By THOMAS M PRYORHOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 27 July 1958: X5.
  6. ^ New Impetus Lent Activity at MGM: Siegel Cites Impressive List of Stories, Stars, New Faces Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Apr 1959: B9.
  7. ^ HOLLYWOOD VISTA: Extensive Production Slate Planned For 1960-1961 by Metro's Chiefs By MURRAY SCHUMACHHOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 20 Dec 1959: X7.
  8. ^ COAST FILM FETE GAINING STATURE: San Francisco Event Draws Top Movies From Abroad -- Logan Makes Plans By RICHARD NASON. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 10 Oct 1959: 12.
  9. ^ M-G-M TO REMAKE 'FOUR HORSEMEN': 4-Million Production to Begin Filming in France in Fall -- Actor, 20, May Get Lead New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 Mar 1960: 24.
  10. ^ Peale Film Bights Bought Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 09 June 1960: 28.
  11. ^ Ava Practically Set In 'Four Horsemen' Louella Parsons:. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 10 Aug 1960: B10.
  12. ^ Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 13 Sep 1960: 40.
  13. ^ WAR FILM HALTED BY PARIS REALITY: 'Four Horsemen' Back in U.S. When Student Riots End Plans for Mock Ones By MURRAY SCHUMACHSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 20 Dec 1960: 44.
  14. ^ HOLLYWOOD TWIST: New Time, War, People in the Remake Of 'Four Horsemen of Apocalypse' By MURRAY SCHUMACH. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 01 Jan 1961: X5.
  15. ^ INTONATIONS FROM A 'SILENT' SWEDE: SWEDEN'S INGRID THULIN REFLECTS By EUGENE ARCHER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 16 Feb 1964: X7.
  16. ^ SOL SIEGEL TO QUIT AS M-G-M OFFICIAL: Production Chief Will Return to Independent Producing No Successor Named 'Mutiny' Exceeded Budget Of Local Origin By MURRAY SCHUMACH Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 Jan 1962: 35.
  17. ^ 'FOUR HORSEMEN' HAS PARIS PREMIERE Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Feb 1962: C11.
  18. ^ DECLINE IN PROFIT SHOWN BY M-G-M: Quarter Earnings at 15c a Share, Against $1.78 in Like '6l Period GEORGIA-PACIFIC A.V. ROE CANADA COMPANIES ISSUE EARNING FIGURES OTHER COMPANY REPORTS New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 16 Apr 1962: 56.
  19. ^ "DVD Savant Review: The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse". Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  20. ^ Crowther, Bosley (1962-03-10). "Movie Review - The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - Screen: '4 Horsemen of Apocalypse':New Version of Work by Blasco Ibanez Remake of 1921 Movie at the Loew's State". Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  21. ^ '4 Horsemen of Apocalypse' Ride Again Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 Feb 1962: A3.

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