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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>
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on October 10, 1938 with Wallace Beery reprising his film role. See more »
President Madero is shown as being overthrown in a coup by Gen. Pascal, who then shoots him. In reality, there was no such general named Pascal; Madero was assassinated on the orders of Gen. Victoriano Huerta, who did overthrow him but who did not personally shoot him. See more »
Viva Villa was a hard luck movie. Filmed in part on location in Mexico City, during production, a plane carrying movie footage to Culver City crashed, requiring reshoots of the lost material. Wallace Beery, always an obnoxious star, demanded extra salary before he would appear again in the lost scenes. Lee Tracy, who originally played the part of the newspaper reporter, while on location was accused of getting drunk and urinating from his balcony room onto revelers celebrating the Mexican Independence Day. Tracy's action caused a national scandal. MGM managed to smuggle him out of the country. Then Louis B. Mayer fired Tracy from MGM and also got him blacklisted. Tracy's replacement, Stuart Erwin, was terrible as the reporter. Due to the delays, Viva Villa did not get released until after July 1, 1934, the date the Motion Picture Production Code took effect. MGM had to make changes to meet new code requirements, such as a scene where Fay Wray's character is whipped. Jack Conway took over for Howard Hawks as director to finish the production, which may explain the change in the movie pacing. The movie starts off fast, with a great scene of Villa and his riders taking over a town and Villa issuing swift justice as the new judge in town. Viva Villa never maintains that pace. But,one big plus, Leo Carillo as Villa's homicidal sidekick is great.
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