In 1930's Cuba, a bank clerk and an American mercenary assist a revolutionary group in a plan to kill the President but the Cuban Secret Police chief and the dictator's military complicate the plan's execution.
Nick and his partner Al stage a payroll holdup. Al is shot and Nick kills a policeman. Nick hides out at a public pool, where he meets Peg Dobbs. They go back to her apartment and he forces her family to hide him from the police manhunt.
1932. The tyrannical and despotic government of President Machado has headed Cuba for seven years. The latest measure of that tyranny is the outlawing of public gatherings of more than four people, such acts the government deeming treasonous. China Valdés, a young woman who works in an American bank in Havana, is generally non-political. However, she decides to join the revolutionary forces to avenge the murder of her activist brother Manolo - a murder she witnessed - at the hands of the government, the trigger pulled by a police officer she will eventually learn is named Armando Ariete. Her goal is to kill Ariete. Another of the revolutionaries, an American entertainment promoter named Tony Fenner, convinces her to hold off on her assassination, as he believes he has come up with a plan that can wipe out all the major government leaders in one fell swoop. Along with China and Tony, the Chief of the revolutionaries amasses a team of four non-related men - Guillermo, Ramón, Miguel and ...Written by
One of the writers, Peter Viertel, wrote a chapter in his book Dangerous Friends about how he and John Huston wrote the screenplay for We Were Strangers, including two weeks in Cuba with Ernest Hemingway. According to Viertel, Hemingway suggested ending the film as it occurred in reality: with the death of the revolutionaries. Instead, an alternative ending was supplied by Ben Hecht. See more »
This story takes place during the presidency of Gerardo Machado, which ended in 1933; however, China wears torpedo bras, which did not come into fashion until World War II; likewise China's hair style and clothing are also strictly 1949, not 1932-1933. See more »
"We were strangers" is considered a minor film among all Huston's masterpieces of the era:"treasure of the Sierra Madre" "Key Largo" "Asphalt jungle'' or "African Queen" .But many of this director's works are sleepers :"a walk with love and death" "Heaven knows mister Allison" or " Reflections in a golden eye" -which was an accurate rendition of McCullers' novel- are good examples ,sometimes more praised abroad than in America.
"We were strangers " is in the center of Huston's work:one of his permanent features was failure ("treasure" "asphalt" "misfits" ).the heroes of "strangers" are in a way ,misfits:they do not mix with the people and they do not feel that history is moving faster than they do.Forget the political background which may seem,to some,naive and vague :sometimes we wonder whether the heroes themselves are believing in what they are doing:hear this little ditty one of them sings as a leitmotiv ("we are digging all day,we are digging all night" "We were strangers" shows Huston's fascination for death: it would reappear in the overlooked "walk with love and death" ,in the dance macabre at the beginning of " under the volcano" and it is even more glaring in the director's final opus "the dead' where one of the characters ,still alive,appears on her deathbed.
Fighting against the tyrants is one good thing:doing so by digging a tunnel to get to a graveyard to kill one of the men of the dictatorship,Huston challenges realism!"there are two parts in the cemetery,says Jones ,one for the poor,one for the rich" even in death...
Jones ,some kind of romantic passionnaria (the part was tailor made for her- and Garfield an idealist American are part of the odd couples who are numerous in Huston's work:"African queen" "Heaven knows..." or "Roots of heaven" or "the Barbarian and the geisha" or "Annie" or...you name it...
a Huston which should not sink into oblivion....
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