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El Cid (1961)

After helping define the film noir and reinvigorating the Western with more adult themes and complex characters, director Anthony Mann set his sights on the epic. It wasn’t that big a leap. As he told the press, he saw EL CID as “a Spanish Western.” Of course, not many Westerns back then shot for five months with thousands of extras, but Mann brought both psychological depth and expressive imagery to the tale of the Spanish hero (Charlton Heston) who fought to unify Spain’s Christians and Muslims. The script builds from smaller conflicts to the climactic Battle of Valencia to determine Spain’s ultimate leadership. But it also takes time for the personal story of El Cid’s love for the conflicted Chimene (Sophia Loren).

d. Anthony Mann, 182m, 35mm