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Viva Zapata!

Director:  Elia Kazan
Year Released:  1952
Rating:  2.0

A mundane pseudo-Western about pseudo-macho posturing. Marlon Brando is a rebellious young farmer who speaks out against the government regarding their treatment of the poor and soon becomes their leader, fighting against their corrupt, self-appointed leaders. They win, and he becomes President, but is disgusted at how power has the potential to ruin him, returns to his roots, and gets assassinated. Nothing in “Viva Zapata!” is revelatory or remotely exciting; it feels just as cold and stern as the Brando character, without much room for identification. His marriage to a village woman feels like a plot device, and his brother (Anthony Quinn) takes an unexpected turn for the worst at the end (how I’ll never know). Standard, uninteresting scenes follow: stretches of dull dialogue, women being thrown around, mandatory gun fights, horses galloping and garbled lines courtesy of Mr. Brando. The screenwriter was none other than John Steinbeck, who was covering the man-against-oppressive-society-trying-to-make-a-living-and-only-wants-peace for the umpteenth time.

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