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>
Ben Hecht's original screenplay was so long that producer David O. Selznick considered making a two-part film about the life of Pancho Villa, with the first part depicting his rise and the second about his fall. This idea was shot down by Nicholas Schenck, the head of Loews, MGM's parent company, who didn't believe that audiences would be interested enough to watch two films on the same subject. See more »
The film strongly implies that Pancho Villa took Mexico City by himself, and then made himself president. In fact, the city was taken in a three-pronged attack by Villa's forces and those of two other revolutionary generals, Emiliano Zapata and Venustiano Carranza. After the city was taken and Huerta fled, the three generals ruled together, although Zapata soon went home and Carranza eventually forced Villa out of power, defeating his forces and ruling Mexico by himself. See more »
While the story is a bit on the fanciful side, it still has a good period look, and some of photography and action sequences are excellent. Wallace Beery is not as hammy as usual and does a creditable job. Henry B. Walthall is good (as usual) as Francisco Madero and turns in the best performance of the movie. Interestingly enough, while some characters (Madero, Villa)actually use their real names, others such as John Reed, Victoriano Huerta and Rodolfo Fierro are fictionalized as Johnny Sykes, Pascal and Sierra, respectively. Perhaps the best thing about it is, despite when it was made it treats the subject matter with dignity and has a real respect for Mexico and Mexicans. Some of the shots look as though they were taken in the 1910s thanks to Jack Conway's and Howard Hawk's direction.
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