Saturday, September 28, 2019

HOLLYWOOD'S HISPANIC HERITAGE BLOGATHON: A Pedro de Cordoba Sampler


Aurora is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at her site Once Upon a Screen with her sixth edition of the Hollywood's Hispanic Heritage Blogathon on September 29th. Begin your journey HERE.


Pedro de Cordoba
September 28, 1881 - September 16, 1950

Patrician Pedro de Cordoba was born in New York City enjoying the combined cultural heritage of a French mother and Cuban father. He trained as an actor and made his Broadway debut performing in a 1902 production of Hamlet. Shakespeare provided a lot of his work at this time: The Taming of the Shrew (Hortensio), Twelfth Night, The Winter's Tale, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Othello, As You Like It, The Merchant of Venice, and Julius Caesar (Brutus). Fellow performers in these productions include Harry Davenport, Sydney Greenstreet, Basil Rathbone, Leonard Mudie, Katharine Cornell, Jane Cowl, Constance Collier, Henry Kolker, Ferdinand Gottschalk, Tyrone Power Sr., John Litel, and Charles Coburn.

Other productions in his 48 play Broadway career between 1902 and 1935 include Lady Windermere's Fan, Vanity Fair, The Blue Bird (Fire), Marie Antoinette (Count Fersen), The Rivals (Faulkland), Candida (Rev. Morell), and Arms and the Man (Sam Abramovitch).


Pedro de Cordoba made his motion picture debut in Cecil B. DeMille's 1915 version of Carmen alongside opera star Geraldine Farrar in the title role and Wallace Reid as Don Jose. During the next decade, Pedro de Cordoba would appear in 23 films including The New Moon as Prince Michael and When Knighthood Was in Flower as the Duke of Buckingham. The actor with the mellifluous and commanding voice would re-enter film in 1935, again for DeMille as Karakush in The Crusades.

Geraldine Farrar, Pedro de Cordoba

The toreador Escamillo is taken with the gypsy woman Carmen. On his way to Seville to take advantage of the opportunity to become renowned in his profession, Escamillo wants to share his good fortune with the tempestuous and beautiful Carmen. Carmen enthusiastically returns his regard and will accompany him to the city and to glory. However, first, she must assist her smuggler friends by seducing the naive soldier Don Jose. The thrill of Escamillo's success and its glory do await the couple in Seville, and more.



Sidney Toler's fourth outing as Inspector Charlie Chan places our hero in Paris, a City in Darkness in 1939 as the world moved inexorably toward war. Paris is practicing blackout drills as desperate people flee and others spy for foreign entities or take advantage of the confusion about them.

Pedro de Cordoba as Antoine

Pedro de Cordoba plays the role of Antoine, a wounded veteran of the First World War who is employed as the valet of a wealthy industrialist played by Douglas Dumbrille. Antoine is a patriot, even more so as his only son is about to become involved in the current inevitable conflict. Antoine is elegant and thoughtful; a man of honour and of keen observation.

During this time in Hollywood when an A list picture took on Hitler and the Nazis, it was controversial, yet the B units such as those producing the Chan pictures could confront the politics head-on and gave us this excellent entry in the series.



Alfred Hitchcock's 1942 thriller brought WW2 to America's homeland. A munitions factory worker played by Robert Cummings is sought by authorities and by the genuine saboteurs responsible for the destruction and murder for which he is blamed. On the run with a sometimes willing/sometimes unwilling accomplice played by Priscilla Lane, the pair will meet many who will help and may who will hinder.

Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings
Anita Sharp-Bolster, Pedro de Cordoba

Help comes to our couple from a traveling carnival. Pedro de Cordoba plays Bones aka The Human Skeleton. The assistance is not obtained easily, but democratically.

Bones: "In this situation, I find a parallel to the present predicament. We stand defeated at the outset. You, Esmerelda, have sympathy yet you're willing to remain passive. I have a belief, and yet I'm tempted to let myself be over-ridden by force. The rest of you, with the exception of this malignant jerk, are ignorant of the facts, and, therefore, confused. Thank heaven we're still members of a democracy. We'll vote."



Pedro de Cordoba is front and center in this grouping from the 1939 Hopalong Cassidy feature Law of the Pampas. It was his second Hoppy picture that year following Range War. Pedro plays Jose Valdez, the subject of a plot to separate him from his land. It's a good thing Hoppy is on his way. And, yes, that is "Chan", Sidney Toler next to the kid.



My time machine wish includes more comedy for Pedro de Cordoba pictured here with Cary Grant and Gail Patrick in My Favorite Wife in 1940. Dr. Kohlmar is one very confused psychiatrist in this secretive marital mix-up.

The IMDb lists 115 feature film credits for Pedro de Cordoba. You never know when you will be pleasantly surprised by his appearance as a revered rancher, a dignified Native, an ambassador, a general, or perhaps the classiest head waiter ever! Keep your eyes peeled in Comanche Territory, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Captain Blood, The Falcon in Mexico, The Sea Hawk, Anthony Adverse, Blood and Sand, Green Dolphin Street, and Five Came Back.

Pedro de Cordoba was at one time the president of the Catholic Actors Guild of American. He was married from 1928 to his passing in 1950 to Eleanor Nolan and their family included six children.


Bonus:

Pedro de Cordoba in Technicolor!
With Monty Banks in Blood and Sand, 1941













18 comments:

  1. I remember you told me about that silent version of CARMEN before. May have to finally give it a look.

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    1. Silent Revue screened Carmen a few weeks ago with a guest contralto performing some of the popular arias. The movie is only an hour but manages to present all of the story/drama in proto-noir fashion. Do seek it out.

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  2. I was totally unfamiliar with Pedro de Cordoba...until I recognized him from CITY IN DARKNESS. It's always fun to read about an actor one knows little about...especially when one has seen so many movies that he appeared in!

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    1. Pedro de Cordoba definitely fits that bill. It must have been City in Darkness that turned me into a fan, and that unmistakable voice led me to so many other roles.

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  3. I remember him most from his role as Don Miguel in "The Mark of Zorro".
    He was good in the role. I wonder if his name hurt his career. Perhaps "Dash Rip RocK" would've been better. In any case, Antony Quinn was my favorite "Hispanic" actor, although it was hard to tell since he often cast as an Arab, Greek, Italian, or Indian. He should have played the lead in "Zapata" but they gave it Brando.

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    1. Don Miguel! Now, there's a role I should have highlighted.

      Indeed, Quinn was the all-purpose-foreigner. And I agree about Zapata.

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  4. Pedro de Cordoba was so wonderful! I loved him as Don Miguel in The Mark of Zorro. And Bones is one of my favourite characters in Saboteur. He was so good in so much.

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    1. Yes, Pedro de Cordoba always brought class to his roles. He was a divine actor and I would have loved to have been able to see him on stage.

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  5. Oh my gosh, I forgot de Cordoba was in so many pictures I've seen many times including MY FAVORITE WIFE and SABOTEUR. This is an overdue tribute to a great actor. Thank you so much, Paddy for this contribution!

    Aurora

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    1. My pleasure. Thank you for giving us a platform to celebrate Hollywood's Hispanic Heritage.

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    2. Had to revisit to let you know that I was talking to my mother last night and OUT OF THE BLUE comes de Cordoba out of her mouth. She is hopefully visiting me soon and wants me to find some of his movies. Your entry is the perfect guide.

      Aurora

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  6. This post has to do with I LOVE LUCY which starred LUCILLE BALL and DESI ARNAZ. Desi was from CUBA. DORIS SINGLETON would have been 100 today. She is best known as CAROLYN APPLEBY on I Love Lucy. Her passing was in June of 2012 at the age of 92. Also according to her imdb credits she did an ep of THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW and Bob is on this page too!

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    1. Doris did a wonderful interview with the Television Archives that you can find on YouTube.

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  7. I am, indeed, pleasantly surprised when I see Pedro de Cordoba's name in the credits. He's a great character actor and I'm happy you wrote a post on him. Also, he was a handsome young fellow!
    Kisses!

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    1. Those looks, that talent, and that voice! What a guy!

      It makes me very happy that you enjoyed this post, my friend.

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  8. Is CHARLIE CHAN your favorite movie detective? Im going to try to think of some other movie detectives, there was BOSTON BLACKIE and PHILO VANCE. I never saw any of those. And of course HERCULE POIROT from AGATHA CHRISTIE.

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    1. I am particularly fond of the Chan books and movies from Twentieth Century Fox and have written about many of them here. Of course, I enjoy a good mystery, get a kick out of most of the B movie series, and the Golden Age writers. Plus, as you know, the great TV shows like Perry Mason, Burke's Law, and Murder, She Wrote. Lots of good stuff to enjoy.

      I pause now to ponder what sort of roles Pedro de Cordoba might have played on classic television, had he lived longer.

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