Blood and Sand Blu-ray Review
When I was a young boy I had posters of baseball players on my wall and dreamed of one day playing in the major leagues. Apparently they do things differently in Spain. While he lays in his bed each night young Juan Gallardo (Rex Downing) stares up at his bullfighting poster. He often gets up, takes his blanket, and swirls it like a cape. Juan’s dream is to become a Matador, like his late father. One evening, when the house is still, Juan sneaks out of the house and into the local tavern. There he comes across a man named Curro (Laird Craiger), who is regarded as the finest critic of bullfighting. He begins to rattle off some of the great ones. When Juan mentions his father Curro talks about the day he was killed, how scared he was in front of the great beast. Juan takes a wine bottle and hits him over the head. He then runs to a nearby ranch, where inside a walled area he comes upon a bull. He begins taunting it with a blanket, angering it until the blanket is shredded into ribbons. He has decided to leave his village and make his way to Madrid. Before he leaves he tells the young daughter of the ranch owner that he will return one day to marry her. The next day, accompanied by a quartet of handlers, he sets off for the big city and fame.
Magnificent in all of its Technicolor beauty, BLOOD AND SAND is a moralistic tale that asks the question “How much is not enough?” Ten years pass before Juan (Power) returns home with money in his pocket. On the train home he spies his photo in the paper under a review by the great Curro. Unable to read or write he asks a fellow passenger to read it. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, the passenger reads a rave review when what it really read is scathing. Upon his arrival home he rounds up the local mariachi band and heads to the home of the beautiful Carmen (Darnell), the once little girl of his youth. He brings with him a box enclosing a wedding gown. Full of his talents he shows her the newspaper article. When she reveals the true account he vows that one day he will be the greatest matador of all time.
Well acted and quite enjoyable (I must admit that I was only familiar with Tyrone Power’s work in more serious films like “In Old Chicago” and “Witness for the Prosecution.” I’d never seen him in any of his popular swashbuckling roles), BLOOD AND SAND entertains on all levels. As Juan’s prowess (and fame) continue to grow he finds himself surrounded by people only out for themselves. They invade his home on the day of matches, asking for favors and money. The scene reminded me of the opening of THE GODFATHER when people are on line to meet with Don Corleone. Even though he rises to the very top of his profession, earning ever the great Curro’s admiration, Juan is not happy. There must be more. More shows up half-way through the film in the form of Dona Sol (Hayworth), a woman who collects men like other women collect jewelry. Overwhelmed by her affections, Juan begins to neglect his family, his staff and, most importantly, his craft. Will Juan be crushed under the weight of his faults? Or will love save the day? I highly recommend you give BLOOD AND SAND a look and find out for yourself.
BLOOD AND SAND BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The film is presented in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio and the image leaps off the screen. BLOOD AND SAND deservedly won the Academy Award for Best Color Cinematography and the reason why is evident here.
Audio: Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, the sound is well mixed. The crowd scenes during the bullfights are not muffled. The more intimate scenes, including one where Hayworth plays guitar and sings, are sharp and clear.
Audio Commentary: Cinematographer Richard Crudo (AMERICAN BUFFALO, DOWN TO EARTH) gives a masters class commentary from a DP point of view, discussing the various shots in the film and the camera set-ups needed to achieve them.