Napoleon's forces are sweeping across Europe, and Spain is on the brink of falling to the mighty invasion. Standing alone against the onslaught is one brave fighter and his ragtag band of guerillas. Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren deliver outstanding performances in this "tense, absorbing [and] suspenseful" (The Hollywood Reporter) wartime classic. Seizing a gigantic cannon, Spanish fighter Miguel (Sinatra) plans to attack Napoleon's army by battering the walls of French-occupied Avila. But because he's untrained in complex weaponry, he must rely on the expertise ofCaptain Trumbell (Grant), a British naval officer. Allies on the battlefield, Trumbell and Miguel soon find themselves in a bitter struggle over Miguel's mistress (Loren), a sultry beauty drawn to the captain's refined ways even as they race toward the most harrowing battle of their lives.
During Napoleon's invasion of Spain, the fate of the Spanish partisans rests with an elaborate, magnificent, and extremely heavy cannon--which the French have lost. Despite the high-wattage star power on display, this gun is the true star of The Pride and the Passion, a massive Stanley Kramer production that employs vast swatches of the Spanish countryside (and a few thousand Spaniards). And the stars? Well, they're among the biggest of their day--the only problem is, they're miscast. Frank Sinatra plays the scruffy, illiterate partisan leader, Cary Grant the uptight British captain who covets the gun for his country, Sophia Loren the peasant woman shared by both men. It says something about these effortless stars that they all look extremely uncomfortable in this movie. Grant is robbed of his humor and thus awkward (although his marvelous athleticism is much on display), and Loren is badly made-up and stuck in nobility. Sinatra fares the worst, however, including a disastrous Spanish accent, complete with rolled "r"s. Physically, the movie's pretty impressive, with some eye-filling scenes of extras pushing the heavy cannon up hill and over dale; Franz Planer's cinematography is picturesque, except in some obvious studio inserts. One big draw: the mighty, Iberian-flavored music by George Antheil, one of the composer's best scores. But you'd better like the music and the cannon, because the rest of the film hovers between the tranquilizing and the cheesy. Amazingly, it was one of the top ten box-office films of its year. --Robert Horton