I’ve had a lot of good experiences at the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series here in Austin, Texas. My first viewing of Woody Allen’s Sleeper was there, and it cemented my nascent Allen fandom. My fourth or fifth viewing of Lawrence of Arabia was there, but on 70mm film. I’ve seen great movies I might not have seen otherwise, like The Late Show, and thanks to double features I’ve made connections I might not have made otherwise, like between Pan’s Labyrinth and The Spirit of the Beehive.
The Spanish Civil War is a good war for movies. Its ideological split between fascists on the one hand and liberals and communists on the other was a warm-up for World War II. It was a global conflict and a trial run for the Cold War, too, in the sense that republicans and leftists from around the world — notably from the United States and the Soviet Union, but from many other parts of the world as well — converged on a country to try and tilt its fortunes their way. Setting a movie in the Spanish Civil War allows storytellers to engage with the fundamental issues of those conflicts without having to address their specific baggage. Also, Spanish architecture and landscapes (perhaps I should say Mediterranean, since many Spanish Civil War movies were filmed in Italy or other similar locales) offer a distinct backdrop from the grayer, grimmer palettes usually seen in WWII and Cold War flicks.
I’ve watched a lot of Spanish Civil War movies, and I thought I’d briefly run through the ones I can remember: