Man of La Mancha
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An Impossible Dream come true!
Screen legends Peter O Toole (Lawrence Of Arabia) and Sophia Loren (Two Women) light up the screen in the classic musical Man Of La Mancha.
Imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition, author Miguel de Cervantes and his servant must perform his most celebrated story for his fellow inmates: the tale of Alonso Quijana, a man who has lost his mind…and found his purpose. Renaming himself "Don Quixote de La Mancha, ", he sets out for a musical adventure unlike any other.
James Coco, Harry Andrews, and John Castle also star in this glorious adaptation of the Tony award-winning Broadway smash.
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Just for the record: Cervantes was no wandering actor, he was never tried by the Spanish Inquisition, the only dungeon he entered was a muslim one, in Algiers, as a prisoner of war. Dulcinea, or Aldonza for that matter, never appears in the book, she's only talked about since she is but an illusion. In fact, she IS the true impossible dream!
And yes, you may say this movie is not meant to be the book but the Broadway musical. Yet... would you be praising 'West Side Story' or 'Kiss Me Kate' if their plot not only strayed from the Shakespeare originals (which they do, both of them) but totally distorted their actual meaning? Would you accept a musical version of, say, Macbeth in which Shakespeare is shown about to be beheaded by Queen Elizabeth? I should think not, because that never happened and to show so only denies the man's life, his work, his beliefs, his times and his country.
And last but not least: Not even the musical is handled properly. Several songs are sorryly butchered, if not missing altogether! If I were you, I'd read the book instead.
That said, I do have to add that I feel the film is not nearly as bad as it's long been claimed to be. I can recall the critical brouhaha surrounding the film that followed it for years afterward, with many critics condemning it as complete trash, devoid of any merit at all, and virtually suggesting that some manner of black hole had been ripped in the cosmos as a result of its production. Viewing the film shows up a good bit of the outrage to be fairly silly overstatement--while I'd hardly rank it as a masterpiece, the film is not badly done, and the dubbing of O'Toole is hardly the horror the viewer might have been led to expect. No more is Loren's singing; while certainly not of Broadway caliber, her voice is adequate enough for film, and the performances of both come across well enough. My one reservation in casting is James Coco's Sancho : Coco was a decent enough comic performer, but he comes across as a bit too cute, and not slyly cynical enough for the character. An actor of somewhat tougher mien would have been better, and given the role more substance than Coco seemed able to bring to it. But the film hits its emotional notes well enough, and is helped along considerably by a meritorious supporting cast, most notably John Castle as Carrasco/The Duke; and it's a pure delight to see performers, who would go on to be powerhouses in their own right, such as Brian Blessed and Ian Richardson, still in their youthful salad days here, lending a very nice supporting hand. All in all, this film warrants a bit more respect than it's been given, and is hardly a strain on the viewer's patience--I urge skeptics to give it a watch and decide for themselves.
It's fun. Peter O'Toole is fabulous as "The Knight of the Rueful Countenance"; Sophia Loren is terrific as Aldonza; and James Coco as Sancho.....PERFECT. So what of the singing? What does it matter???? What any one of them may lack in singing is more than made up for in their performances which are tremendous.
And the story within a story is so interesting as the characters in "real life" are recruited to play parts in the "story". Great fun.
In the end I think this movie is performed beautifully.
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