The story of Emiliano Zapata, a lesser-known Mexican revolutionary, is a picture that records a hard, cruel, curiously unemotional account of Mexican banditry and revolt against oppressive government. Elia Kazan’s direction strives for a personal intimacy but neither he nor the John Steinbeck scripting achieves in enough measure.
Convenient use is made of historical fact as the script plays hop-skip-and-jump in spanning the nine years that Zapata was a controversial figure in Mexican political life just prior to and during the earlier part of World War I.
Marlon Brando brings to the Zapata character the same type of cold objectivity noted in script and direction. Jean Peters is the girl who becomes his bride and forsees his violent end.
There’s a stark quality to the photography by Joe MacDonald that suggests the raw, hot atmosphere of Mexico.
1952: Best Supp. Actor (Anthony Quinn).
Nominations: Best Actor (Marlon Brando), Story & Screenplay, Art Direction, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture