California Conquest

California Conquest is a 1952 American Technicolor adventure film directed by Lew Landers, and starring Cornel Wilde and Teresa Wright.[1] The film is set in the early 1840s, and deals with a conspiracy by native Spanish Hidalgos to deliver the then-Mexican territory of California to the Russian Empire.

California Conquest
Original film poster
Directed byLew Landers
Produced bySam Katzman
Screenplay byRobert E. Kent
Story byRobert E. Kent
StarringCornel Wilde
Teresa Wright
CinematographyEllis W. Carter
Edited byRichard Fantl
Columbia Pictures
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • July 4, 1952 (1952-07-04)
Running time
79 minutes
CountryUnited States


Don Arturo Bordega (Cornel Wilde) is part of the old Spanish nobility, and a vocal advocate for California'a annexation by the United States. On his way to a secret meeting in support of that goal, he is attacked by bandits led by José Martínez (Alfonso Bedoya), but narrowly escapes. The planned "guest of honor" at the secret meeting to which Bordega is en route, is none other than then-U.S. Army Captain John Charles Fremont. Martinez's thugs attempt to assassinate Fremont while he is traveling to the same meeting, but succeed only in lightly wounding him. It is subsequently revealed that the corrupt Brios brothers, Ernesto (Eugene Iglesias) and Fredo (John Dehner) have paid Martinez to violently oppose the movement advocating American annexation of California, as part of their unscrupulous plot to deliver California to the imperial domain of the Russian Czar (in exchange for a promise to appoint first Ernesto, and later Fredo, as the Russian colonial governor).

Martinez's men violently seize a quantity of rifles from gunsmith Sam Lawrence (Hank Patterson), in order to arm a force in support of the Russian conquest of California. This invokes the wrath of his beautiful daughter, Julia (Teresa Wright), who winds up joining Arturo Bordega in his mission to infiltrate Martinez's bandit group, in order to foil their part in the nefarious scheme. Martinez is eventually killed by Julia Lawrence (and Ernesto Brios is slain by Bordega in a duel), during a period in which they learn the nature of the Brios' plot. Arturo Bordega and Julia Lawrence eventually travel to Fort Ross, where they are able to capture Fredo Brios (as well as a fictional Russian princess, Helena de Gagarine, and a high-ranking Russian army officer), and otherwise manage to thwart the treasonous conspiracy. During the course of their travels together, Bordega and Lawrence fall in love, and the film concludes with their stated intent to marry, and "have 14 children."



  1. The New York Times, "California Conquest at Palace" (June 7th, 1952 - retrieved on October 31st, 2011).
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