Viva Zapata! Overview:

Viva Zapata! (1952) was a Historical - Western Film directed by Elia Kazan and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck.

The film was based on the novel Zapata: The Unconquerable written by Edgecumb Pinchon published in 1941.


Brando brings dignity and strength to his portrayal of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. A reluctant hero, Zapata leads the peasants in a quest to seize their land back from the wealthy after first trying to ignore his calling. He promises Peters a quiet life and finds work on a horse farm. But the indignities and cruelty of the government are finally too much, and Brando takes command, with his brother Quinn, of a peasant army. He joins the revolution being waged in the north by Villa and, after they come to power, is faced with the complexities of governing. A breakthrough for both Kazan and Brando, it continued their collaboration, begun with the stage production of A Streetcar Named Desire and three powerful films in four years, Streetcar, Zapata, and On the Waterfront. Steinbeck wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay.

(Source: available at Amazon AMC Classic Movie Companion).


Academy Awards 1952 --- Ceremony Number 25 (source: AMPAS)

Best ActorMarlon BrandoNominated
Best Supporting ActorAnthony QuinnWon
Best Art DirectionArt Direction: Lyle Wheeler, Leland Fuller; Set Decoration: Thomas Little, Claude CarpenterNominated
Best Music - ScoringAlex NorthNominated
Best WritingJohn SteinbeckNominated

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Quotes from

Fernando: Cut off the head of the snake and the body will die.

Fernando: This is all very disorganized.

Emiliano Zapata: A strong people is the only way to freedom!

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Facts about

Film debut of Frank DeKova.
According to Elia Kazan's autobiography "A Life" (1988), John Steinbeck would whittle while they sat in the wood shop of Steinbeck's New York townhouse writing the script. The two developed a deep and enduring friendship during the project.
Marlon Brando was reportedly involved in a string of stunts during filming. On location in Texas, he shot off a string of firecrackers in a hotel lobby, serenaded Jean Peters from a treetop at three in the morning, horrified cast and crew by playing dead for several minutes following the hail of gunfire that ends Zapata's life, and told visiting reporters that he once ate grasshoppers and gazelle eyes.
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Best Supporting Actor Oscar 1952

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Also directed by Elia Kazan

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