South Beach


The Lost City: Andy Garcia's Cuban Revolution

by / April 21, 2006

The Lost City: Andy Garcia

The Lost City: Andy Garcia

Andrés Arturo García Menéndez—Andy Garcia to you—is one of Miami's favorite sons. He came here in exile at the age of five with his parents in 1961 during the Cuban Revolution, grew-up on Miami Beach, and went on to become one of Hollywood's greatest stars. A "local boy makes good" story, for sure.

But, although Garcia achieved great success with films such as The Untouchables, with Kevin Costner and Sean Connery, and most recently Oceans 11, with Brad Pitt and George Clooney, there was one story-line that burned in his soul; one elusive tale he yearned to tell—the story of the Cuban Revolution and Havana in 1959.

Enter exiled Cuban writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante...

Garcia's new film, The Lost City, which he also produces and directs, is based in part on G. Cabrera Infante's novel Three Trapped Tigers, and portrays a love story set against the backdrop of Havana's turbulent transformation from a lustful Caribbean destination filled with sex, gambling, and torrid nightlife under the corrupt Batista regime, to a repressive and puritanical Marxist society at the hands of Fidel Castro and Ch? Guevara.

The story centers around the lives of three brothers of the Fellove family caught-up in the Revolution. Although the specific rolls are not yet finalized, the brothers will be played by Andy Garcia, Benjamin Bratt, and either Benicio Del Toro or Javier Bardem, depending on the two actors availability vis-a-vis previously committed projects. Filming has commenced in the Dominican Republic and will also begin in Miami this summer.

Dustin Hoffman stars as mobster Meyer Lansky, who, with the blessing of the monumentally corrupt Batista regime, spearheaded the Mafia's gambling and prostitution efforts in Havana's wild nightlife scene. Robert Duvall has signed-on to play the head of Batista's secret police.

The film is billed as a Cuban love story; a story of "impossible love' under the harsh circumstances of armed social revolution. Our money is on Spanish beauty Ines Sastre to be the object of desire in the film's epic love story theme, and while you may not recognize her name, you'll instantly recognize her face.

In the film, one of the Fellove family brothers becomes a Castro supporter and engages in clandestine terrorism on behalf of the Revolution until he is discovered by Batista loyalists.

Another brother, who also blindly believes in the ideals of the Revolution, joins Castro as a freedom fighter, but meets with a surprising fate once he realizes the Revolution is nothing more than the mis-guided scheme of a power-hungry future dictator.

Andy Garcia plays brother Fico Fellove, a Havana nightclub owner who remains neutral during the Revolution, only to see his life destroyed by Castro's repressive regime once its power is consolidated. Ultimately, he is driven from his homeland and forced to flee to New York to rebuild his life.

Garcia's film is a story-line I know all too well...

In the summer of 1976 as a young, aspiring airline pilot I found myself flying out of Miami's infamous "corrosion corner," a notorious haven for shady cargo operators, crooks, cheats—and coincidently, some of the bravest men of the 20th century—Cuban pilots who had flown in the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.

I flew mostly with Captain Luis Cosmé, the dashing former Chief of Air Operations in the invasion, but it took many months before I realized Luis was involved in the invasion — he rarely spoke of it. Rather, it was the memory of Havana's pre-Castro 1950's golden era that gushed from his soul.

As our ancient DC-6 droned away across the oceans night after night, Luis would speak with fiery eyes about the music and the nightlife of his beloved Havana. Many nights I'd lean forward in the Flight Engineer's seat and listen to his vibrant stories about people and places of Havana that soon became real to me. Places like the Tropicana, the Casino Parisien at the Hotel Nacional, and the Floridita Bar where "the American writer" was often seen—my first introduction to Ernest Hemingway. The stories would always end with a somber "but that was before Castro."

Andy Garcia's The Lost City will tell the same story, chronicled by yet another brave soul who lived through it.

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