In this fictionalized biography, young Pancho Villa takes to the hills after killing an overseer in revenge for his father's death. In 1910, he befriends American reporter Johnny Sykes. ... See full summary »
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In this fictionalized biography, young Pancho Villa takes to the hills after killing an overseer in revenge for his father's death. In 1910, he befriends American reporter Johnny Sykes. Then a meeting with visionary Francisco Madero transforms Villa from an avenging bandit to a revolutionary general. To the tune of 'La Cucaracha,' his armies sweep Mexico. After victory, Villa's bandit-like disregard for human life forces Madero to exile him. But Madero's fall brings Villa back to raise the people against a new tyrant... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
UK audiences complained about the title, misinterpreting it as being a foreign language film. An alternative title was suggested - "Robin Hood of the Rio Grande" - but David O. Selznick said no. See more »
Madero is shown being shot by Pascal at Madero's desk in his office in the Presidential Palace in Mexico City. In reality, Madero and his Vice President were shot by soldiers of Gen. Victoriano Huerta, who had overthrown Madero and was having him transported to a prison outside Mexico City. The car they were in stopped behind a building outside the prison, and Madero and his vice president were taken outside the cars and shot. See more »
Wallace Beery's tremendous and rousing performance as Pancho Villa is the main reason to view this troubled production, which sadly can be seen in the movie itself. The movie tells the story of Pancho Villa, who as a boy sees his father killed by the Mexican government. Later in life Villa wages war against the greedy bad guys of Mexico first as a bandit and then as a general. It's not often a bio starts off with a warning that the thing is strictly fiction but that's the case with this MGM picture. I'm really not sure what to make with the final film but I found it clear to see that there was a lot of tampering with it. After viewing the movie I read some of its history, which includes director Howard Hawks being fired and original reporter Lee Tracy getting kicked out of the country after getting drunk and urinating off his hotel balcony onto some military men. There was also a plane crash that destroyed a lot of footage, which had to be re-shot and all of this caused the film's release to be pushed back, which then had the thing being cut by the Hayes Office. The entire film is quite choppy and a lot of what's going on has to be explained with title cards that come up every few scenes. The film's running time of 110-minutes seems double that and it doesn't help that the majority of the supporting cast are rather weak. Fay Wray, Donald Cook and George E. Stone walk through their roles. Leo Carrillo and Stuart Erwin are pretty bland in theirs. Henry B. Walthall gives a very good performance but he's role is quite minor. What keeps the film moving is the great performance by Beery who clearly becomes this character and when one thinks of Villa you can't help but picture Beery.
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