Synopsis by Hal Erickson
In 1931, famed Soviet filmmaker Sergei M. Eisenstein travelled to the Western Hemisphere to make his first non-Russian film, Que Viva Mexico, a project financed by muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair. The project withered and died when Sinclair became impatient with Eisenstein's meticulous shooting methods, whereupon Eisenstein returned to Russia and Sinclair assembled the completed footage into a quasi-documentary, Thunder Over Mexico. Distributors were not forthcoming for this cobbled-together film, which was then consigned to oblivion until 56 minutes' worth of Sinclair's cut were reassembled in 1941 as Time in the Sun. Beautifully photographed, the film as it stood was little more than a glorified travelogue, and would probably have disappeared from sight had not the strength of Eisenstein's reputation brought in an audience of wine-and-cheese cinema enthusiasts, who alternately applauded the film and condemned the distributors for crassly commercializing the director's original vision. As for Eisenstein himself, he was still angered over promises broken by Upton Sinclair, and wouldn't have promoted Time in the Sun even if Stalin had allowed him to do so.