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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It ain't really true then again it ain't really a lie.
The life of Mexican rebel and maverick Pancho Villa is brought to the screen is in this highly fictional but yet log-line or plot points accurate story. This is clear to anyone because the opening has one of those disclaimers that states that though the story is true, the movie has fictionalized certain scenes and scenarios but is in essence a true portrait. Whatever! That said, despite unexpected tonal shifts (Howard Hawks was the original director before Jack Conway was brought in and re-shot a lot of his footage. It makes me wonder how the new Exorcist movie that Renny Harlin is reshooting will play) the film is a touching portrait of a man of the people who could never lead a nation. It does not patronize the dastardly or generally inhumane tactics of Villa. As far as Villa was concerned, it is war and one must vanquish the enemies completely. Take no prisoners was his approach. It has the typical, rotten scoundrel and bandit to careful redemption of the soul arc but is handled atypical which is a plus. Beery, one of the biggest stars Hollywood ever produced is solid in the role and should have gotten an Oscar nomination. Directing is solid except for sudden comic ouvres among the chaos stopping the movie from achieving rich resonance but overall enabling it to still work. Sets are huge, action sequences are passable and scenarios and dialogue are either very good or cliched in certain respects. But I think the ending of the movie has one of the best written scenes and final lines I've ever heard. I won't spoil it but it lets you know that what you've seen and read about is essentially a myth and legend and that's what people choose to remember and live on. Kinda like the ending of the movie Big Fish.
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