Biography, USA, 1952, b/w, 113’
Direction: Elia Kazan Screenplay: John Steinbeck Cinematography: Joseph MacDonald Music: Alex North Cast: Marlon Brando, Jean Peters, Anthony Quinn, Joseph Wiseman, Arnold Moss Production: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Distribution & Digital Restoration (DCP): Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Filmed at the time of Kazan’s notorious HUAC testimony, Viva Zapata! functions as an apology from the director, as a return to his roots in radical left-wing theater and politics. Written in close collaboration with lifelong Mexicophile John Steinbeck, who shared Kazan’s fascination with Zapata’s vision, its script uses the idealistic revolutionary. It focuses more on the corrosive potential of power than on the intricacies of Mexican civil war. During its early production stages the film was met with efforts by the Mexican film industry to censor it as well as with nervousness from studio heads that it might be interpreted as pro-Communist by McCarthy-ites. Brando’s underrated virtuoso performance as well as Anthony Quinn’s Oscar-winning turn for Best Supporting Actor are of particular note.