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Dale Wasserman's long-running Broadway smash comes to the screen in this musical based on Miguel de Cervantes' classic satire Don Quixote de la Mancha. Cervantes (Peter O'Toole) is arrested and put in prison by the soldiers of the Spanish Inquisition after staging a comic performance which mocked the Spanish government.
Cervantes' fellow inmates are eager to divvy up his belongings, but the author is desperate to save a manuscript of his latest work; in order to win the prisoners over, he stages, with their assistance, his latest comedy about the delusional knight Don Quixote (O'Toole). Don Quixote, with the help of his loyal manservant Sancho Panza (James Coco), is determined to battle evil, though he most often finds himself combating windmills.
Don Quixote encounters the beautiful virgin Dulcinea -- personified by a jailed prostitute, Aldonza (Sophia Loren) -- and is certain he has found the love of his life.
However, tragedy befalls Don Quixote when a band of savages rape Dulcinea as he sleeps, and he must decide where his greatest loyalty lies when his niece Antonia (Julie Gregg) arrives, asking Quixote to please return home to his family.