The period is the 1840’s and California is part of Mexico. Many of the citizens wish to become part of the United States. Other countries are also interested and the Russians have established bases in the northern part of the territory. To further their hold they have stolen guns and Don Arturo Bordega, a leader of those wanting statehood, is out to recover them.
Maurice VanAuken <[email protected]>
User Reviews: California Conquest was a film of its times at the height of the Cold War and the McCarthy period when some in Hollywood felt it was their duty to show the Russians for the grasping imperialists they were even before Karl Marx drew breath. Cornel Wilde plays a California Don already looking forward to statehood with USA and Teresa Wright is the daughter of an American settler in California who has a dry goods business.
I’m of the opinion that a lot of Hollywood players to make themselves blacklist proof did films like California Conquest. Wilde himself was a person of no political leanings that I’ve discovered took a film like this so that no one would question his patriotism in those times.
As history records the last Russian settlement in California closed up shop in 1841 that being Fort Ross which was mentioned here. It is here though that Ivan Lebedeff and Lisa Ferraday are the Czar’s agents weaving a plot to bring all of California into the Russian fold. As their agents they have Alfonso Bedoya bandit leader in the Gold Hat tradition and the ambitious John Dehner who is setting himself as a Quisling.
No mention here of the Mexican War to come or of that phrase that had a lot of currency back in those days about American ‘Manifest Destiny’ to spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific and if you don’t agree too bad.
Don’t get me wrong there were some good anti-Communist films of the time. California Conquest just isn’t one of them.