Behold a Pale Horse (1964)





Director:     Fred Zinnemann. 

Starring:     Gregory Peck (Manuel Artiguez), Anthony Quinn (Viñolas), Omar Sharif (Francisco), Raymond Pellegrin (Carlos), Paolo Stoppa (Pedro), Mildred Dunnock (Pilar), Daniela Rocca (Rosana, Mistress of Vinolas), Christian Marquand (Zaganar), Marietto (Paco Dages), Perrette Pradier (Maria, Hussy), Zia Mohyeddin (Luis, Guide of Paco), Rosalie Crutchley (Teresa, Wife of Vinolas), Molly Urquhart (Hospital Nurse), Jean-Paul Moulinot (Father Esteban), Laurence Badie (Celestina).

Spanish republican, Manuel Artiguez, continues to  fight Franco's fascist forces even after the Republicans lost the war; a policeman plans to trap him


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

"And I looked, and Behold a Pale Horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him."  Revelation 6:8

"In 1936, a thousand years of history exploded in Spain.  The forces of nationalism joined together against the forces of the Republic.  Soon the whole world found itself involved in this struggle. The whole world looked toward Spain.  In 1939, the Spanish Civil War came to an end.  These were the men who lost crossing the border into France and exile."

There is a long line of Spanish republicans giving up their weapons before crossing the border into France.  Manuel Artiguez, a prominent leader in the fight against Franco, decides to stay in Spain at the last minute.  He turns around and starts walking away.  The other men in the line shout at Manuel that the war's over.  "Why don't you give up?"  A group of men grab him and force him across the border into France. 

The Spanish border twenty years later.  A small boy, named Paco Dages, and his adult friend Luis are walking in the Pyrenees Mountains headed to the French border.  He will head to the city of Pau in France with his Uncle Antonio and many other Spanish exiles.  He also wants to meet the great leader of the guerillas, Manuel Artiguez.  He is going to travel to a small village where a man named Pedro lives.  Luis says that Pedro is going to be shocked when he learns that the son of Jose Dages has come for a visit.  Luis gives Paco a hug and sends him on his way.     

Pedro's wife awakens her husband saying that there is a boy outside.  Pedro gets up, goes over to the window and shouts to the boy that he must be Paco.  Welcome!  Welcome!  He goes outside to get the boy and bring him in.  After breakfast, Pedro shows Paco photos of the days of the Spanish Civil War.   Paco sees his father and Pedro together in one photo and there is also a photo of Manuel Artiguez.  Pedro tells Paco that Artiguez lives near his Uncle Antonio in Pau on the Spanish street. 

Paco asks Pedro why has Artiguez stopped making raids into Spain?  Pedro answers that for 20 years Artiguez has gone four or five times a year back to Spain to inflict damage on the Franco regime.  In fact:  "He's made a fool of Captain Viñolas and all his police."  Paco says that he wants Artiguez to kill Viñolas for him for murdering his father.  Pedro replies that Artiguez won't go back to Spain now.  He has grown weary of the struggle.  Paco replies that back in his hometown of San Martin the people always say that when the people need help, Artiguez will return to San Martin. 

Pedro places Paco on a bus heading for Pau.  The bus drops Paco near the Spanish Street.  A woman points out the way for him to go.  Paco sees a lot of kids playing soccer (football).  Some children invite him to play some soccer with them.  Paco says he can't right now because he has got to find Manuel Artiguez.  The kids know the man as "the bandit".  Paco says Artiguez is not a bandit.  The largest boy tells Paco where he can find Artiguez  --  number 17, on the top floor. 

Paco runs over to number 17 and climbs to the top floor.  He knocks on the door and is told to come in.  Artiguez looks a bit old and weary.  He is resting with his clothes on his bed.  Artiguez lives in the apartment with his friend Carlos. Paco asks him if he is the father of Artiguez?  This does not put a smile on the man's face.  He asks the boy who sent him here?  Paco tells his full name and Artiguez knows what man was the father of the boy, but he still wants to know why Paco came to him.  Paco says:  "I want you to kill Viñolas."  Artiguez replies:  "Go away, boy."  Paco gets angry and says that Viñolas killed his father because of his connection with Artiguez. He tells Artiguez that his father never gave up any information about Artiguez.  If he had talked, his father wouldn't be dead now.  This irritates Artiguez and he forcibly pushes Paco out the door shouting for the boy to get lost. 

Captain Viñolas practices running around a bull ring, taunting a bull that tries his best to gore the horse.  The horse belongs to a man who wants to give the horse to the captain as a gift.  When Viñolas says he is not allowed to accept gifts, the man says that Viñolas can buy the horse from him for a very reasonable price.  Viñolas responds:  "That's a possibility."

At the home of his mistress, the woman reminds Viñolas that he promised to take her to Lourdes for her pilgrimage.  Viñolas tells her that he will take her when he goes on his vacation.  Viñolas gets a call from his wife Teresa.  She apologizes for disturbing him, but his office called for him at their home three times and that sounded important.  Viñolas thanks her for calling.

Viñolas telephones the office and demands to know from Lt. Zanganar why did he call his home?  The lieutenant blames it on a new man at the switchboard.  Doing a routine check on the mother of Artiguez, they found out that she is very ill and might die soon.  When the conversation is over, the captain of the police tells his mistress he has to go because he has an opportunity to trap Artiguez when the son will visit his mother in her home in San Martin.  She is not expected to live long.  And he is sure that Artiguez will visit his dying mother.  And this time he will catch Artiguez. 

Viñolas has the mother forcibly taken to the hospital, the better to trap her son. Later he goes to the hospital to catch a glimpse of the mother.  He is also sealing off the hospital in order to set up his trap. 

On a wall outside, there is a wanted dead or alive poster for Artiguez.  It says:  "Aged  50.  Now domiciled in France, for murder of members of the Guardia Civil, arson, robbery, destruction of public property and assault."   The reward is 100,000 pesetas.

The smuggler Carlos heads for the village of Pau to tell Artiguez that his mother is dying. 

A younger boy, Gusano, who likes Paco tells him that Artiguez wants to speak to him right away and that the matter is very important.  Paco says:  "I don't like him."  The boy won't take no for an answer and starts pushing Paco toward the apartment of Artiguez.  Artiguez explains to Paco that his mother is dying in the San Martin hospital.  He needs to know from Paco all he can remember about the San Martin hospital.  Paco says there are entrances/exits on two sides of the hospital.  The roofs of the hospital are joined together.  The maid, Celestina, comes in to start cleaning the apartment.  Artiguez whispers to Paco that Celestina likes Carlos.  Paco gives Artiguez a lot of information about the routines of the hospital.  His mother will be on the second floor.  Paco draws a floor plan for the famous/infamous guerilla leader. 

Viñolas gets out of his chauffeured car to go into the church.  He tells the lieutenant to let him know immediately if Carlos calls.  The captain goes into the church to light two candles and asks God to please help him get Artiguez.  He tells God that Artiguez is His enemy too.  He has tried so many times to catch the man, but he always seems to escape.  In his prayer Viñolas includes the fact that if he doesn't get the guerilla leader this time, he will be replaced by his superiors.  He promises God to go to Lourdes and he won't even take Rosanna.  Furthermore, he will give back the gift horse. 

The captain and the lieutenant pass by the hospital and the captain says that if he doesn't hear from Carlos within one hour, he is going to set up the men for the trap.  There will be two men in plain clothes at the door and two policemen on each floor. 

Across the street from the hospital, the captain is going to be set up in an office made from the fourth-floor apartment of a local prostitute.  The apartment has four windows that overlook the hospital.  The lieutenant tells the woman that they are setting a trap for an expected burglar in the neighborhood.  When they go into the apartment, they hear a lot of what sound likes party noises.  As soon as the men in the room see the captain, they leave the apartment.  Viñolas tells the pretty prostitute that they will be keeping her in custody while they catch the burglar.  She says she has been in custody before, grabs her bag and leaves the apartment.  Now Viñolas confirms that there is a sniper on the hospital roof.  A walkie-talkie radio system will be used to communicate with the different posts inside and outside of the hospital.  

Father Ramon is taking over the visiting rounds for a priest named Francisco, who is heading out with a group of priests to see Lourdes.  Father Ramon telephones Francisco and tells him that the old woman in bed 24 says she won't speak with any priest but Francisco.  Francisco says he only has 59 minutes until the train pulls out headed for Lourdes and he can't miss his train. He adds:  "I've been waiting too long."  The hospital is 20 minutes away and that would be 40 minutes round trip, leaving him only 19 minutes to spare. 

Viñolas checks over the preparations of the trap.  He gets news that they have Carlos. 

Francisco goes to the hospital. The place looks deserted and the father immediately gets suspicious.  He asks the night porter what's going on here?  The porter only tells him that they think an epidemic is about to break out, so father better be careful.  He goes up to the second floor to see Artiguez's mother, Pilar.  She tells him that she is the mother of Manuel Artiguez.  That's a bit of mild shock for the father.  She continues by saying that she wants father to go to Pau, number 17 Spanish Street, and tell her son not to come to her because it's a trap and he will be killed.  Francisco says he can't do anything unlawful, but she pleads with him to have mercy on her and save her son. 

Mother Artiguez seems to be dying.  Lt. Zaganar comes over to the priest and asks him to come with him.  Francisco will be talking with Viñolas.  The captain asks the priest what did Pilar Artiguez tell him?  Francisco says he can't tell him what Pilar said.  Viñolas coaxes the father to tell him.  Carlos is on his way up to see Viñolas.  But Carlos is actually not coming.  He doesn't want to come unless it is absolutely necessary.  Viñolas gets a telephone call that Pilar Artiguez has died.  He says it doesn't matter to the trap if the old bitch is dead as long as Artiguez doesn't know it.  He will keep the trap in place.  He now sends a messenger, Pedro, back to Pau to tell Artiguez that his mother has a couple of days left until she dies. 

Father walks out of the hospital.  Another priest picks him up in a taxi.  They are going back to the seminary immediately because they are about to leave for the train.  Francisco gets on the back of the truck with the other clergy.  They all get on the train.  Father Esteban has not been right in the head, ever since he was struck by the bandit Artiguez during a bank robbery.  (Artiguez's comment is that priests should stay out of banks.)  Francisco writes a note to Artiguez.  It says:  "I saw your dear mother before she died last night . . ." 

Artiguez sits drinking in his darkened apartment.  Francisco gets off the train to get a stamp to mail the letter to Artiguez.  He just misses the postman picking up the mail from the mail box and the postman refuses to take his letter.  The priest misses his train.  So the priest walks over to 17 Spanish Street. Artiguez leaves the apartment after putting Paco in charge of the place until he or Pedro shows up.  And don't wake up roommate Carlos.  Paco looks out the window and sees a kicked soccer ball fall right in an olive barrel.  The shop keeper tells the kids that this time he is keeping the ball.  As Paco stands by the window, he also sees Father Francisco headed his way. 

Francisco knocks on the door and comes in.  He tells Paco that he simply must see Mr. Artiguez.  Artiguez is out.  Francisco says he has an urgent note for the man.  He goes on to say:  "His life depends on it."  He gives the letter to Paco to give the letter to Artiguez.  He also tells Paco verbally that Mrs. Pilar Artiguez has died.   Paco says that's not true, but the priest tells him he was at the woman's side when she passed away.  Paco takes the letter from the priest.  After the priest leaves, Paco tears the letter up, puts the pieces in the toilet and flushes them down.  But the pieces of letter flow back up to the top.  Just then Pedro arrives and Paco goes and greets him.  A little later Artiguez arrives at the apartment.  He bounces a soccer ball onto the apartment floor.  Paco grabs the ball.  He goes outside with it and hooks up with his friend Gusano.  They go into the streets and soon all the other kids are around them grabbing at Paco's new ball.  They get the ball away from Gusano and then everyone, except Paco, runs down toward the playing field. 

Paco sees a man he recognizes, Carlos, in the window of the apartment.  He goes to tell Artiguez, but the bandit tells him if the guys took his ball from him, he will just have to go get it back from them by himself.  Paco leaves the apartment.  Pedro says that there's too many of them for Paco to handle alone.  He will go assist Paco.  He leaves the apartment.   Paco is still near the door.  Pedro says he will go with him, but it's not that matter about which Paco wishes to speak.  He says he know Carlos and Carlos is an informer.  Pedro tells Manuel to come outside.  Carlos is an informer.  Paco saw Carlos with the Guardia Civil the night they beat his father to death. Carlos was friendly with the interrogation officer and they took a ride in a car together.  Artiguez says he is mistaken, but Paco shouts loudly that he is not making a mistake.  Pedro backs Paco up by saying that he too doesn't trust Carlos.  He is too eager for Artiguez to go to San Martin.  Artiguez says:  "He wouldn't inform on me.  He knows what I would do to him."  Pedro also says that it took very little time for Carlos to get home, unless he had a car available to him. 

Artiguez takes Paco back into the apartment and the three men confront Carlos with what Paco just told them.  Carlos says the boy is either mistaken or a liar.  He says that he wasted a lot of time last night speaking to Pilar.  Carlos shouts:  "Pilar is dead!"  How does Paco know this?  The priest from San Martin told him.  He had a letter but tore it up because he thought Artiguez would believe him and then Artiguez couldn't go kill Viñolas.  Artiguez is not sure who is lying and who is telling the truth.  So all four guys travel to Lourdes where the priest will be.

Paco sees the San Martin group go by, but Francisco is not among them.  Artiguez says that Paco has been lying to him and pushes him hard to the ground.  The kid says he is not lying!

They start leaving for Pau, but along the road they see Francisco.  Artiguez forces him into the car.  He tells the priest that he will have to face Carlos, who will be coming back for his pack. 

The priest and the bandit sit down in Artiguez's apartment waiting for Carlos to show up.   Artiguez is very anti-clerical and he gives the priest a hard time.  He tells the priest that he doesn't believe his story because no priest would risk his life to save Artiguez.  And, if he were telling the truth, then Viñolas would arrest Francisco. 

Artiguez sees Carlos slowly approaching the apartment.  He waits for Carlos to come in.  Carlos knocks and is invited in.  Artiguez says that he's going to go back to San Martin with Carlos.  Carlos says good.  Artiguez has him sit down at the table for a glass of wine.  He then asks the priest to come out.  Carlos pushes the table over against Artiguez in order to get away, but Artiguez grabs him.  The fight spills out onto the hallway steps. Carlos finally breaks free of Artiguez and runs for his life. 

Artiguez tells the priest that he was actually afraid to try and see his mother.  Is that why the priest feels sorry for him?  The priests says that maybe Artiguez is feeling sorry for himself.  A little later Artiguez tells the father to go back to San Martin because he no longer needs Francisco.  Artiguez goes in the back room to sleep on his bed.  The priest gets up from his resting on a bed.  He sees Artiguez in the kitchen and says he will be going to catch that train just is coming into the station.  Artiguez tells him that's not the train to San Martin.  Artiguez says that the priest can safe himself by lying to the Guardia Civil.  He should say that Carlos is lying.  But the priest says he will not lie.  Artiguez finds out that Francisco was born in Lorca.  And it was in Lorca that Artiguez as a young child had to sell firewood to the town residents.  They have a glass of wine to celebrate that they are both Lorca men.  A little later the priest leaves the apartment.

Viñolas is smoking in bed.  He has all his men in their places.  Artiguez lays in his bed thinking about what he should do.  He gets up and starts preparing to go to San Martin.  He knows his mother is dead.  He is more interested in killing Carlos.  Artiguez stops off to see old Pedro again.  He tells Pedro that they will have to dig up the old guns.  Pedro asks him why is he going back?  Manuel answers:  "What else can I do?"  Besides, he says, they all think that he can't come back. 

Pedro drives to the hiding place for the weapons.  Artilguez gets himself a pistol, two grenades and a sub-machine gun.  Pedro thinks he's going to go with Manuel, but Artiguez says Pedro is too drunk, even though he is not. 

The priest is back in San Martin.  As soon as he gets off the train, he is arrested by the police.   

Artiguez flags a taxi down and tells the driver to take him to San Martin as soon as possible.  The driver recognizes Artiguez.  As Manuel gets out of the taxi, he tells the taxi driver to drive out at a normal speed and go back to Elizondo.  He is not to tell anyone he has seen Artiguez.  The driver agrees to do what he said. 

Artiguez walks to a building and goes up to the roof.  He sees the sniper up there on an adjacent roof.  He also sees Carlos rush into the apartment building being used by Viñolas.  He slowly sneaks up behind the sniper and knocks him down and onto the street below.  Looking out the windows is Viñolas and Pedro.  He could have killed Viñolas, but decides to kill Pedro instead.  The police start firing at Artiguez.  He throws a couple of grenades down to them and kills a few of the policemen. 

Artiguez gets off the roof and down into the hospital.  He submachine guns two policemen (Guardia Civil).  Now he is only using a pistol.  He shoots at a policeman on a floor above him and the policeman shoots back.  Artiguez goes down another flight of steps.  He starts to run down the hall, but a guard from the floor below comes up and shoots Artiguez.  Artiquez shoots this policeman and he goes down.  Now the policeman from the floor above submachine guns Artiguez.  Another soldier running toward the shooting on his floor finishes Artiguez with another blast of submachine gun fire. 

The policemen shout out to their bos Viñolas:  "We've got him!  Can you hear me, sir?  We got him!  Shot dead!"  The lieutenant tells Viñolas:  "It's all over, and you've won."  Policeman after policeman comes up to him now and tells him congratulations.  Viñolas walks down the street smoking a cigar and pushing out his chest in triumph. He tells the lieutenant to hold Father Francisco until the father superior comes to ask them about him.  Then they will release him.  Before the lieutenant leaves, Viñolas asks him why did Artiguez come back?  He had to have known that his mother was dead and that they had set a trap for him.  So why did he come back?  The lieutenant has no answer for him. 

In the morgue, the body of Manuel Francisco is put right next to his mother's dead body.  Photos are taken. 

Viñolas leaves in his car. 


The film is based on a true story of the famous republican and guerilla fighter Francesc Sabaté Llopart (also known as "El Quico").  He fought in WWII against the German occupation, then against the Francoists in the Spanish Civil War and finally against the Franco government, making raids into Spain from France, destroying property and/or killing important men.  He became known as the regime's "Public Enemy Number One".  So he was quite famous/infamous.  And he killed a lot of men. I enjoyed the film.  Gregory Peck and Anthon Quinn were both great in their respective roles of Artiguez and Viñolas.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:

Francesc Sabaté Llopart (also known as "El Quico")

He was a Catalan anarchist who fought against the Nationalist regime of Francisco Franco.

1915 (March 30) – he was born in Catalonia, Spain., 1915

1925 – Sabaté escapes from his clerical school

1932 – by the age of 17, he joins the anarchist action group "Los Novatos" ("The rookies"). The organization was a part of the Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI, also known as CNT-FAI because of its close links to the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo industrial union).

Late 1933 – the Rookies becomes involved in insurrections against the conservative government of the Second Spanish Republic.

1935 – Sabaté refuses military service, thereby beginning his life outside the law.

1935 – the Rookies carry out its first robbery (which the Roookies referred to as "expropriations") to fund a prison relief group.

1936 (July) – the Rookies fight against the army's coup attempt at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.

Sabaté fights on the Aragon front with the CNT-FAI's "Young Eagles Column".

The Young Eagles Column is assigned a Stalinist commissar. He crushes the democratic atmosphere of the group. Sabaté and two of his comrades shoot him dead.

They desert to Barcelona. There they carry out missions for the FAI against the Stalinist authorities.

Sabaté is arrested by the Communists.

He makes a daring prison escape.

1939 (April 1) – end of the Spanish Civil War.  With his 216th Division ("Durruti Column") he crosses the French border.

World War II (September 1939 to May 1945) – in France during World War II, he spends time in concentration camps.

He fights with the Maquis resistance (rural resistance groups) against the Vichy regime (the government of France that allied with the Axis powers July 1940 to August 1944).

after World War II – Sabaté returns to Spain to carry on resistance activities against Franco's regime.

He helps free three anarchists from the police.

He robs wealthy businessmen and large banks to fund anarchist activities.

He tries to assassinate Falangist notables and members of the Civil Guard. (He tries to assassinate a police commissioner, but attacks the wrong car, killing all its occupants.)

He becomes known as the regime's "Public Enemy Number One".

Sabaté flees back to France.

1957 (November 12)  --  in France he is arrested and is given a jail sentence of six years.

1958 (May)  --  he is released from the French prison. 

1958 (autumn)  --  his health deteriorates rapidly. 

1959 (December 1)  --  with four comrades, he is on his way back to Spain. 

1960 (January 3)  --  the police surround a farmhouse where Sabaté and his men are staying for the moment.  One comrade is killed and Sabaté is wounded in the leg and buttocks.  (Later he receives a neck wound.)

1960 (January 4)  --  at 1 a.m. two comrades make an escape attempt but are killed in a hail of bullets.  Sabaté crawls out to some bushes.  He finds himself virtually face to face with Lt. Francisio Fuentes of the Civil Guard. Sabaté shoots him in the head killing him.  At dawn another comrade is killed.  Sabaté escapes.  He is able to jump on a train, demanding to be taken to Barcelona.  The engineer is able to shake off Sabaté at Fornells de la Selva.  Soon Sabaté can hardly move and has a high fever.  But he travels 45 miles closer to Barcelona. He sees San Celoni ahead of him. 

1960(January 5)  --  Spanish radio announces that at age 45, Sabaté and  four companions were killed in Sant Celoni by the Somaten (a Catalan paramilitary organization, then mainly formed of Francoist fascists) and the Civil Guard.


Sources:  Wikipedia and Tellez, Antonio. Sabate: Guerilla Extraordinary.  Only a few of the pages of the book were available at


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