Che! (1969 film)

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For the 2008 film featuring Benicio del Toro, see Che (2008 film).
Che!
ChePoster.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Produced by Sy Bartlett
Screenplay by Michael Wilson
Sy Bartlett
Story by David Karp
Sy Bartlett
Starring Omar Sharif
Jack Palance
Barbara Luna
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography Charles F. Wheeler
Edited by Marion Rothman
Distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release dates
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Spanish
Budget $5,160,000[1]
Box office $2.5 million (US/ Canada)[2]

Che! is a 1969 American biographical drama 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 synopsis[edit]

The film tells of Che Guevara (Omar Sharif), a young Argentine doctor who proves his mettle during the Cuban guerilla 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 advisor. 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 he becomes pursued by the Bolivian Army.

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 writing: "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 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time. The 1977 Book of Lists 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]

Soundtrack[edit]

Che!
Che! (soundtrack).jpg
Soundtrack album by Lalo Schifrin
Released 1969
Recorded May 7, 9 & 30, 1969
Los Angeles, California
Genre Film score
Label Tetragrammaton
T-5006
Producer Don 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.[8]

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]

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! at the Internet Movie Database.
  4. ^ Warga, W. (1968, Aug 16). Fleischer---a busy director. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/156049301?accountid=13902
  5. ^ a b By RICHARD F SHEPARDSpecial 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?accountid=13902
  6. ^ Brenner, Paul. Che! at AllMovie. Last accessed: January 9, 2008.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. The Chicago Sun-Times, film review, June 10, 1969. Last accessed: January 9, 2008.
  8. ^ Payne, D. Lalo Schifrin discography accessed March 15, 2012

External links[edit]