Rose [1979]

This DVD boxed set shows Tyrone Power as Twentieth Century Fox (that is, Fox head honcho Darryl F. Zanuck) saw him: handsome, dashing, prone to swordplay and adventure. Zanuck's instincts were in tune with what audiences wanted to see from Ty Power, and the athletic actor was one of Hollywood's most popular stars from the late 1930s through his exit for WWII service--and he remained popular in the late 1940s, although he chafed at his limited casting opportunities. The real Tyrone Power may well have been more interesting than these movies suggest, although you wouldn't know it: he comes across as earnest, square, and unfailingly attractive. The earliest film in the set is the 1941 Blood and Sand, a Technicolor-crazed remake of the old Rudolph Valentino silent picture. Power plays a hotshot matador caught between Linda Darnell's faithful wife and Rita Hayworth's naughty femme fatale (Anthony Quinn scores nicely in a small role as a super-cool rival matador). Director Rouben Mamoulian's operatic style meshes well with the milieu, even if the movie is paced operatically at times. Son of Fury (1942) bounds into the realm of 19th-century costume adventure, with Power out to wrest his rightful inheritance from scoundrel George Sanders, juggling high-class lady Frances Farmer and South Seas maiden Gene Tierney along the way. This crazy plot is ably directed by John Cromwell, and Alfred Newman's Polynesian love theme is well-nigh irresistible. Captain from Castile is a lavish postwar production that reestablished Power as an adventure hero. Stunning location photography in Mexico (including a real volcano in mid-eruption, which figures evocatively in the late going) makes this one a scenic feast, even if the plot is standard potboiler stuff: Spanish nobleman Power escapes the Inquisition by signing on with Cortez (Cesar Romero) and his New World expedition. Castile was directed by Henry King, and King also made Prince of Foxes (1950), bringing a foursquare approach that emphasizes the somewhat stodgy period feel of both films. However, Prince has a secret weapon: Orson Welles plays power-hungry Cesare Borgia and steals every scene he's in. Tyrone Power already appears older than his 35 years (he would in fact die at age 44, while filming Solomon and Sheba), and he looks dazzled by Welles' prowess. Welles is back in The Black Rose, a lively Boys' Own Adventure yarn from 1950. Here Power and Jack Hawkins leave 13th-century England for a wild trip to Mongolia and China, signing on to the service of the brutal warlord played by Welles. Director Henry Hathaway gets the most out of the extensive location shooting, and Welles makes a meal of his role. It's a fun movie that shows the appeal, and some of the limitations, of Tyrone Power in his signature style. --Robert Horton

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