This film was banned in all Spanish-speaking countries south of the border, and no wonder. It depicts life under the sort of military strongman that was typical of just about all those countries during at least some part of their histories, and a revolution to overthrow one of them. Can’t have that floating around, giving people ideas … as if they needed a film to ignite the spark of liberation. We in the US, of course, aided and abetted in this endless cycle. The State Department (though they will never tell you this, they will always mouth the platitudes of “democracy for all”) always finds it easier to deal with one bought-and-paid-for tyrant than a democratic rabble. Just look how we hate the freely-elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and how the CIA actively collaborated in assassination and mass murder against Allende’s freely-elected administration in Chile, installing a murderous puppet named Pinochet. Oh, well, don’t get me started.
Cary Grant is a neurosurgeon on vacation with his wife in an unnamed (but probably Argentina) southern country. Jose Ferrer, the face plastered on every wall in Anonymousland (and one surefire way of knowing if a certain country is a dictatorship is the number of images of El Asswipeo you see around you), is dying from a brain tumor. Cary and wife are more or less kidnapped, driven to the besieged capitol, and he is told he damn well better save the prick’s life. So there is a conflict between what he’d like to do, which is tell the motherfucker to kiss his tyrannical ass goodbye, and what his medical ethics tell him he has to do. Naturally he does the right thing, but there’s a revolution going on …
Richard Brooks wrote and directed this, and he was always a rabble-rouser, but it’s not always crystal clear whose side he is on. That is, he loathes the dictator, but he’s enough of a realist to know that a revolution often installs a new set of monsters even worse than the old set of monsters. The B&W photography is very good, and the final scene of the uprising in the town square might have been edited by the great Sergei Eisenstein. Ramon Navarro and Signe Hasso co-star.