Cuba


2h 2m 1979

Brief Synopsis

A British mercenary meets an old love while training anti-Castro forces in Cuba.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Adventure
Action
Drama
Political
War
Release Date
1979

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 2m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

Former British army officer Robert Dapes is sent to Cuba to advise the Batista government about fighting the revolutionaries. But as soon as he arrives, Dapes knows that it is too late, that the inadequately trained government troops are fighting a lost cause against the well organized rebel forces. The situation is worsened for him personally when he sees the love of his life, Alexandra, who married in Cuba and is now in danger from the threat of revolution.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Adventure
Action
Drama
Political
War
Release Date
1979

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 2m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

Cuba


Richard Lester is best known as the director of light-hearted comedies like A Hard Day's Night (1964) and the swashbuckling The Three Musketeers (1973). Released by United Artists in 1979, Cuba was a different type of film for Lester: a satirical comedy-romance that is set during the fall of the Batista regime in 1959, resulting in the rise of Fidel Castro. Its tagline: "Part Heaven..Part Hell..Pure Havana."

Sean Connery played Dapes, a mercenary sent to Cuba to train Batista forces fighting against Castro's rebels. There he reconnects with a former lover (played by Brooke Adams) who has now married a rich Cuban (Chris Sarandon). Neil Sinyard in his The Films of Richard Lester wrote that the film "developed originally out of an idea of Lester's own, inspired by a conversation with a friend about great modern leaders. From there Lester's thoughts began to formulate in complex ways around Castro and Casablanca (1942) and out of that audaciously bizarre combination comes Cuba." For his collaborator, Lester chose Charles Wood, with whom he had worked on the John Lennon film How I Won the War (1967) and The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968).

Shot on various locations around Andalucía, Spain, Cuba proved to be a difficult and unhappy experience for Lester, and the critics must have made him even more so. Roger Angell in The New Yorker wrote that Lester had peppered the film with wonderful visual touches, but "pinned everything to a plot that is so unconvincingly presented and so imperfectly worked out (in the end he just seems to give up on it, letting it slip into empty farce) that we are not simply bored and disappointed but almost affronted at the misuse of so much promising stuff."

One of the problems with the film is that, like Casablanca, the heroine seems to choose the wrong man. As Angell wrote, "[W]e never understand why the Senora doltishly chooses to remain in Havana amid the ruins of the old regime, instead of grabbing that last-minute DC-4 to freedom with her lover. Any woman who would pass up Sean Connery (he is in terrific shape here, in a trim tan business suit and a narrow fedora) in order to keep her white wide-wing Cadillac convertible deserves whatever fate the insurgents plan for her."

Not all the criticism was harsh. Vincent Canby, writing for The New York Times speculated that at some point during shooting, Lester must have given up and decided to make, "a crazy fantasy about old-time Hollywood melodramas, the sort turned out by Warner Bros, directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Humphrey Bogart and perhaps Eleanor Parker. Seeing the film through this fog of memory, you might find it as outrageously endearing as I did."

Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh defended Cuba in a recent interview with Alex Simon, saying "That's a fascinating movie. Flawed, but really the things that people disliked about it when it came out are what makes it interesting now, it's refusal to sort of play to the idea of a war-torn romance. An absolute refusal to be sentimental or easy about anything. Brooke Adams' character was really fascinating. Here's a woman who says "Look, I don't know what little fantasy you've got in your head, but don't play it out on me, because I'm not that." And this guy (Sean Connery) who's wrestling with the fact that the kind of guy he is, is obsolete now...It's a really interesting movie."

Producers: Arlene Sellers, Alex Winitsky
Director: Richard Lester
Screenplay: Charles Wood
Cinematography: David Watkin
Art Direction: Dennis Gordon-Orr
Music: Patrick Williams
Film Editing: John Victor-Smith
Cast: Sean Connery (Maj. Robert Dapes), Brooke Adams (Alexandra Lopez de Pulido), Jack Weston (Larry Gutman), Hector Elizondo (Capt. Raphael Ramirez), Denholm Elliott (Donald Skinner), Martin Balsam (Gen. Bello), Chris Sarandon (Juan Pulido), Danny De La Paz (Julio Mederos), Lonette McKee (Therese Mederos), Alejandro Rey (Faustino), Louisa Moritz (Miss Wonderly), Dave King (Miss Wonderly's Press Agent), Walter Gotell (Don Jose Pulido), David Rappaport (Jesus).
C-122m.

by Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES:
The Films of Richard Lester by Neil Sinyard
Stephen Soderbergh: Hiding in Plain Sight by Alex Simon
The Internet Movie Database
The New York Times film review by Vincent Canby
The New Yorker film review by Richard Angell
Cuba

Cuba

Richard Lester is best known as the director of light-hearted comedies like A Hard Day's Night (1964) and the swashbuckling The Three Musketeers (1973). Released by United Artists in 1979, Cuba was a different type of film for Lester: a satirical comedy-romance that is set during the fall of the Batista regime in 1959, resulting in the rise of Fidel Castro. Its tagline: "Part Heaven..Part Hell..Pure Havana." Sean Connery played Dapes, a mercenary sent to Cuba to train Batista forces fighting against Castro's rebels. There he reconnects with a former lover (played by Brooke Adams) who has now married a rich Cuban (Chris Sarandon). Neil Sinyard in his The Films of Richard Lester wrote that the film "developed originally out of an idea of Lester's own, inspired by a conversation with a friend about great modern leaders. From there Lester's thoughts began to formulate in complex ways around Castro and Casablanca (1942) and out of that audaciously bizarre combination comes Cuba." For his collaborator, Lester chose Charles Wood, with whom he had worked on the John Lennon film How I Won the War (1967) and The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968). Shot on various locations around Andalucía, Spain, Cuba proved to be a difficult and unhappy experience for Lester, and the critics must have made him even more so. Roger Angell in The New Yorker wrote that Lester had peppered the film with wonderful visual touches, but "pinned everything to a plot that is so unconvincingly presented and so imperfectly worked out (in the end he just seems to give up on it, letting it slip into empty farce) that we are not simply bored and disappointed but almost affronted at the misuse of so much promising stuff." One of the problems with the film is that, like Casablanca, the heroine seems to choose the wrong man. As Angell wrote, "[W]e never understand why the Senora doltishly chooses to remain in Havana amid the ruins of the old regime, instead of grabbing that last-minute DC-4 to freedom with her lover. Any woman who would pass up Sean Connery (he is in terrific shape here, in a trim tan business suit and a narrow fedora) in order to keep her white wide-wing Cadillac convertible deserves whatever fate the insurgents plan for her." Not all the criticism was harsh. Vincent Canby, writing for The New York Times speculated that at some point during shooting, Lester must have given up and decided to make, "a crazy fantasy about old-time Hollywood melodramas, the sort turned out by Warner Bros, directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Humphrey Bogart and perhaps Eleanor Parker. Seeing the film through this fog of memory, you might find it as outrageously endearing as I did." Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh defended Cuba in a recent interview with Alex Simon, saying "That's a fascinating movie. Flawed, but really the things that people disliked about it when it came out are what makes it interesting now, it's refusal to sort of play to the idea of a war-torn romance. An absolute refusal to be sentimental or easy about anything. Brooke Adams' character was really fascinating. Here's a woman who says "Look, I don't know what little fantasy you've got in your head, but don't play it out on me, because I'm not that." And this guy (Sean Connery) who's wrestling with the fact that the kind of guy he is, is obsolete now...It's a really interesting movie." Producers: Arlene Sellers, Alex Winitsky Director: Richard Lester Screenplay: Charles Wood Cinematography: David Watkin Art Direction: Dennis Gordon-Orr Music: Patrick Williams Film Editing: John Victor-Smith Cast: Sean Connery (Maj. Robert Dapes), Brooke Adams (Alexandra Lopez de Pulido), Jack Weston (Larry Gutman), Hector Elizondo (Capt. Raphael Ramirez), Denholm Elliott (Donald Skinner), Martin Balsam (Gen. Bello), Chris Sarandon (Juan Pulido), Danny De La Paz (Julio Mederos), Lonette McKee (Therese Mederos), Alejandro Rey (Faustino), Louisa Moritz (Miss Wonderly), Dave King (Miss Wonderly's Press Agent), Walter Gotell (Don Jose Pulido), David Rappaport (Jesus). C-122m. by Lorraine LoBianco SOURCES: The Films of Richard Lester by Neil Sinyard Stephen Soderbergh: Hiding in Plain Sight by Alex Simon The Internet Movie Database The New York Times film review by Vincent Canby The New Yorker film review by Richard Angell

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States December 1979

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1979

Released in United States December 1979

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1979