La Bataille de San Sebastian
|La Bataille de San Sebastian|
|Directed by||Henri Verneuil|
|Produced by||Jacques Bar
|Written by||Serge Gance
Ennio De Concini
James R. Webb (English screenplay)
|Based on||A Wall for San Sebastian
by William Barby Faherty
|Music by||Ennio Morricone
|Editing by||Françoise Bonnot|
|Studio||Compagnie Internationale de Productions Cinématographiques (CIPRA)|
|Running time||111 min ([US)|
The score is by Ennio Morricone.
A womanizing outlaw, Leon Alastray (Anthony Quinn), who is also an atheist, is pursued by the Mexican military. Given sanctuary by an altruistic priest (Sam Jaffe), he is taken to a village terrorized by marauding Indians.
When the priest is killed, Alastray is mistaken for a priest himself. This he at first denies but, finding the love of a village woman, and encouraged by the persuasive power of a fake miracle, decides to take on the role and thereby organize the villagers against the predatory raids of the Yaqui Indians.
Teclo (Charles Bronson), a half-breed leader of marauders who pretends to side with the villagers but is really in league with the Yaqui. When Alastray attempts to make peace with the Yaqui, Teclo intervenes and foments a conflict.
Just before a battle, the villagers ask Alastray to hold a mass. At this point he confesses to the villagers that he is not a priest. They nonetheless accept him and together they defeat the Yaqui. The film ends with Alastray fleeing the military again, this time accompanied by the woman he loves.
Though panned as somewhat pedestrian by most critics, several attributes separate this from many spaghetti westerns of the time. It is an excellent showcase of the talents of Anthony Quinn and Charles Bronson in their prime. While the cinematography is not on par with other contemporary members of the genre (like The Magnificent Seven), the authentic Mexican set and above average performances by the supporting cast (especially Sam Jaffe as the priest) contribute to a realism some westerns fall short of.
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