Excruciatingly bad Victor Varconi in lead, beware!
I voted a 4 for this film only because Fay Wray's Spanish accented English was well modulated and consistent. We must remember the times afforded Mexicans virtually no work in films and the rest of this turkey is evidence of the folly of that practice. The film's setting is a Mexican village populated by: the cop from Warners' gangster films, a Swede as El Commandante and an Italian as the lead El Capitan Thunder, the much feared bandito. The film drips with stereotypical south-of-the-borderisms.
My problems with the film go beyond the casting. As the film opens, El Capitan Thunder's gang has kidnapped 5 women that he tries to come on to. An uncomfortable scene that gets worse with Varconi's histrionics. Wildly gesturing, Crosland's camera has not only difficulty keeping him in frame, but the composition is somewhere between medium close-up and close-up, leaving his hands out of frame. His arms flail, why? The effect I found to be jarring and this sequence is long. Seems like the director is trying to recapture Jolson's Jazz Singer magic with this somewhat ad-libbed bombast. Charles Judels as Commandante Ruiz, the police captain, is given a similar scene with the same bad framing. His scene stinks, too.
And I'm not done complaining, yet. While a nice musical underscore was added to the soundtrack, it must have been mixed at the Vitaphone "sea-of-100-turntables" as my print was clear and several layers of pop and crackle were evident. Silent movie titles were frequently used between scenes and the plot is incredible. Worst of all is Varconi's acting. I got the impression he watched Fairbanks in Zorro (a silent), concluded good acting was emoting to the back row and then proceeded to emote past the lobby! You'll wish lightning would strike Captain Thunder.
The positives included Don Alvarodo as Fay's love interest and two dozen men riding backwards on horseback (with hands tied) in the first reel. Best part: the film's only 5800 feet long so you'll only suffer for an hour.
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