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A girl is saved by a miracle after she falls from a cliff in the Argentine Andes, and is blessed with healing powers. A shrine is built on the site, and a whole city grows around it, rich with gold from the grateful worshipers. Ruiz, an evil and sadistic general, captures the city, confiscates the gold, and closes the shrine. But the Gaucho, the charismatic leader of a band of outlaws, comes to the rescue. Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
Entertaining Douglas Fairbanks Feature With Some Unexpected Elements
Combining the familiar Douglas Fairbanks action scenes with some unexpected material, "The Gaucho" is interesting and pretty good. It might be just a cut below Fairbanks's very best movies, but it has more than enough to satisfy most silent movie fans. The story is involved, and it features some creative turns, while the production is resourceful and quite good for the most part.
Fairbanks's character here is not quite the same as in his usual roles. While the story does give him plenty of action and adventure sequences, his character is not nearly as likable as most of the ones that he played. The way that "The Gaucho" treats the other characters is not at all what you would have expected from his other movies - normally, even when his character is an outlaw in the eyes of the authorities, you get the feeling that you'd have nothing to fear from him unless you deserved it. Not so here.
That does make the character interesting. As with Fairbanks's usual roles, he seeks justice and respect, but unlike most of the others, he also needs redemption in a much deeper sense. And that fits in well with the other unusual aspect of the movie, which is established at the very beginning with the founding of the miraculous shrine. It introduces a supernatural or quasi-religious dimension that is not at all part of movies like "The Black Pirate" or "The Three Musketeers". Yet, for all that it requires a suspension of disbelief, it works pretty well as part of the overall story.
The detailed and sometimes impressive settings, along with the supporting cast, also help out. Lupe Velez has plenty of energy, Gustav von Seyffertitz is a suitable villain, and it's enjoyable to see Mary Pickford's brief appearance. Overall, it's pretty good, despite varying in some respects from time-tested formulas.
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