Blood and Sand (1941): Mamoulian’s Oscar-Winning, Visually Striking Film, Starring Tyrone Power, Rita Hayworth, Linda Darnell

Based on the novel by Vincente Blasco Ibanez, “Blood and Sand” is Mamoulian’s strikingly mounted story of the rise and fall of a young cocksure Spanish bullfighter, played by Tyrone Power, at his most handsome.

The movie’s stunning cinematography, which overwhelms the slender story and its simply drawn characters, deservedly won Oscar for its artists, Ernest Palmer and Ray Rennahan.

Mamoulian’s remake of the 1922 Rudolph Valentino melodrama centers on a romantic triangle, a young bullfighter torn (and ultimately destroyed) by his love for two vastly different women, the loyal and lovely Linda Dranell and the dangerous siren Rita Hayworth.

The film’s strong, almost abstract art design defines and dominates Mamoulian’s elaborate mise-en-scene, which calls attention to itself (for better or worse).  As for the story itself, it’s rather dull and heavy-handed, and the stiff dialogue makes things worse.

Working his way up the ladder to success, Power achieves fame when he is praised by fatuous, fickle critic Laird Cregar. A country boy at heart, he is thrown into a totally different lifestyle, ultimately forcing him to choose between his pious and faithful wife (Darnell) and the sexy, mercenary (Hayworth).

The film’s best sequences depict the horror, the fascination, and voyeurism involved in bullfighting, as it is perceived by its spectators. And the last scene, in which Darnell comforts Power after his final and fatal goring in the bull ring,is particularly touching.

Paying tribute to the Rudolph Valentino’s version, his contemporary star, Alla Nazimova, was cast in this remake as Power’s mother.

The technical adviser on the bullfight sequences was Budd Boetticher, who later became esteemed director on his own right.


Oscar Nominations: 2

Color Cinematography: Ernest Palmer and Ray Rennahan

Color Interior Decoration: Richard Day and Joseph C. Wright, art direction; Thomas Little, set decoration.

Oscar Awards: 1

Color Cinematography

Oscar Context:

The Art Direction Oscar went to the film “Blossoms in the Dust.”


Some of the film’s scenes are used as stock footage in the 1945 Laurel and Hardy comedy, “The Bullfighters.”



Running time: 125 Minutes.

Directed by Rouben Mamoulian.

Screenplay: Jo Swerling.

Released: May 22, 1941.

DVD: May 1, 2007




Tyrone Power as Juan Gallardo

Linda Darnell as Carmen Espinosa

Rita Hayworth as Dona Sol des Muire

Alla Nazimova as Senora Augustias

Anthony Quinn as Manolo de Palma

J. Carrol Naish as Garabato