Che!

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Che!
ChePoster.jpg
UK DVD cover for Che!
Directed byRichard Fleischer
Produced bySy Bartlett
Screenplay byMichael Wilson
Sy Bartlett
Story byDavid Karp
Sy Bartlett
StarringOmar Sharif
Jack Palance
Barbara Luna
Music byLalo Schifrin
CinematographyCharles F. Wheeler
Edited byMarion Rothman
Distributed byTwentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release date
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Spanish
Budget$5,160,000[1]
Box office$2.5 million (US/ Canada)[2]

Che! is a 1969 American biographical film directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Omar Sharif as Marxist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. It follows Guevara from when he first landed in Cuba in 1956 to his death in Bolivia in 1967, although the film does not portray the formative pre-Cuban revolution sections of Che's life as described in the autobiographical book The Motorcycle Diaries (1993).[3]

Plot[edit]

The film tells of Che Guevara (Omar Sharif), a young Argentine doctor who proves his mettle during the Cuban guerrilla war in the late 1950s. He gains the respect of his men and becomes the leader of a patrol.

Fidel Castro (Jack Palance) is impressed by Guevara's tactics and discipline and makes him his chief adviser. When Castro defeats Cuban dictator Batista after two years of fighting, Guevara directs a series of massive reprisals, yet, Guevara dreams of fomenting a worldwide revolution. After Castro backs down during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Guevara accuses Castro of being a Soviet tool and decides to leave Cuba.

Guevara lands in Bolivia, where he attempts to begin his dream of a worldwide peasant revolution, but the Bolivian peasants do not follow his lead and the Bolivian Army pursues him.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was directed by Richard Fleischer who stated before filming:

An enormous amount of pressure has been brought to bear on this film - both for and against the subject. Each group is afraid we're going to favor the other. The picture will be a character study, and I will only say that it is neither pro nor anti Guevera. The printing of his diary caused only minor changes to the picture... I consider our sources for information impeccable and I cannot tell you who they are.[4]

"We are doing purely the story Che, the person, not the movement," said producer Sy Bartlett. "We want to show what happened with the people who touched his life."[5]

Filming started in October in Puerto Rico. The island was chosen because South America was considered too politically unstable.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mostly negative reviews at the time of its release. Critic Paul Brenner stated: "In this badly misconceived pseudo-biography of the legendary Cuban revolutionary—played, incredibly, by Omar Sharif—Che Guevara takes up the cause as a rebel fighter under the direction of Fidel Castro, played—also incredibly—by Jack Palance."[6] Che! was listed in the book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (1978). The Book of Lists (1977) labeled it "a cardboard, pseudo-historical drama" and noted that "Poor Sharif is forced to deliver lines such as 'The peasant is like a flower, and the revolutionary like a bee. Neither can survive or propagate without the other'".

Film critic Roger Ebert panned the film and the motivations for producing the drama, writing: "From the beginning, it sounded like a bad dream. Hollywood was making a movie about Che Guevara. Why? Probably because somebody smelled easy money, having been inspired by the sales figures on Che posters. That must have been the reason, because Che! is abundant evidence that no one connected with this stinkeroo gave a damn about Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, the Cuban Revolution or anything else requiring more than five seconds' thought".[7]

Fleischer later said "the picture was a disaster. It should never have been made. People got emotional about it. By the time the memos from the board of directors got to me, they'd taken out all the pro-Che things. It took no sides, which wasn't what we started out to do. The producer was no help. He gave in so easily."[8]

Box office[edit]

According to Fox records the film required $9,400,000 in rentals to break even and by 11 December 1970 had made $4,100,000.[9] By September 1970 Fox estimated they had lost $3,389,000 on the film.[10]

Soundtrack[edit]

Che!
Soundtrack album by
Released1969
RecordedMay 7, 9 & 30, 1969
Los Angeles, California
GenreFilm score
LabelTetragrammaton
T-5006
ProducerDon Shain
Lalo Schifrin chronology
Bullitt
(1968)
Che!
(1969)
Kelly's Heroes
(1970)

The film score was composed, arranged and conducted by Lalo Schifrin and the soundtrack album was released on the Tetragrammaton label in 1969.[11]

Track listing[edit]

All compositions by Lalo Schifrin except as indicated

  1. "Ché (Orchestra Version)" - 2:22
  2. "La Columna" - 2:34
  3. "Emboscada" - 3:10
  4. "La Ruta" - 2:42
  5. "Charangos" - 2:04
  6. "Fiesta Numero Dos" - 3:06
  7. "Recuerdos" - 2:44
  8. "Fiesta Numro Uno" - 2:13
  9. "Anita" - 2:00
  10. "La Barraca" - 1:56
  11. "Tiempo Pasado" - 3:00
  12. "Ché (Solo Guitar Version)" - 3:17

Personnel[edit]

  • Lalo Schifrin - piano, arranger, conductor
  • Marcus Cabuto, Luis Gasca - trumpet
  • Ronnie Lang, Jose Lazano, Bud Shank, Sheridon Stokes, Tom Scott, Ted Nash, Justin Gordon - flute
  • George del Barrio - piano, arranger
  • Bob Bain, Dennis Budimer, Jose Gamboa, Al Hendrickson, Lalo Ruiz, Tommy Tedesco - guitar
  • Humberto Cane, Bill Plummer - bass
  • Francisco Aguabella, Larry Bunker, Julio Collazo, Orlando Lopez, Mongo Santamaria, Ken Watson - percussion
  • Alfredo Ebat, Bobby Bruce, Erno Neufeld, David Frisina, Paul Shure, Marvin Limonick, Alexander Murray, George Mast, Nathan Kaproff, Bonnie Douglas, Anatol Kaminsky, Herman Clebanoff - violin
  • Myra Kestenbaum, Peter Mark, Allan Harshman, Milton Thomas - viola
  • Raphael Kramer, Edgar Lustgarten, Kurt Rener - cello
  • Dorothy Remsen, Catherine Gotthoffer - harp
  • Robert Helfer - orchestra manager
  • Kaskara - voice (tracks 3, 5 & 12)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p255
  2. ^ Solomon p 231. See also "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15. Please note figures are rentals not total gross.
  3. ^ Che! on IMDb.
  4. ^ Warga, W. (1968, Aug 16). Fleischer---a busy director. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/156049301
  5. ^ a b By RICHARD F SHEPARD Special to The New York Times. (1968, Nov 12). Film about guevara a boon to puerto rico. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/118252749
  6. ^ Brenner, Paul. Che! at AllMovie. Last accessed: January 9, 2008.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Che! review". The Chicago Sun-Times, film review, June 10, 1969. Last accessed: January 9, 2008.
  8. ^ Fleischer Just Not Much of a Talker Los Angeles Times 1 Aug 1971: q15.
  9. ^ Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 328.
  10. ^ silverman p 259
  11. ^ Payne, D. Lalo Schifrin discography accessed March 15, 2012

External links[edit]