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California Conquest

California Conquest(1952)

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The working title of this film was The Crimson Mask. Although a April 26, 1951 HR news item announced that Columbia had purchased from the estate of Douglas Fairbanks the rights to Johnston McCulley's serial story "The Curse of Capistrano" (All-Story Weekly, 9 August-6 September 1919), McCulley's story was only the inspiration for California Conquest. Fairbanks had produced and starred in a 1920 film based on the story, The Mark of Zorro, directed by Fred Niblo and released by United Artists in 1920 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20).
       A April 17, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item indicated that Patricia Medina was considered for a leading role in California Conquest. A studio-supplied plot summary for the film, contained in the MPAA/PCA file at the AMPAS Library, credits Robert Shayne with the role of "Capt. John C. Fremont," but that role was played by George Eldredge. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, the film was partially shot on location at Sonora, CA.
       Along with its depiction of the Mexican heritage of California, the film highlights a Russian plan to attack and assume control of the territory. Tying this subplot to contemporary fears of Russian/Communist infiltration of the United States, the Variety reviewer wrote that the plot "purports to show that Russia had her eye on the rich land [of California] even back in those days...." Founded in 1781 on a Spanish grant, Los Angeles was originally known as Nuestra Seora Reina de los Angeles, Our Lady Queen of the Angels. In 1812 the Russians established Fort Ross along the northern coast of California as a trading and fur-trapping center. They maintained Fort Ross until 1841.