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Viva Villa! (1934)

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 »

Directors:

, (uncredited) | 1 more credit »

Writers:

(screen play), (suggested by the book by) (as Edgcumb Pinchon) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Rodolfo Fierro (as Sierra)
...
Teresa
...
Don Felipe de Castillo
...
Jonny Sykes
...
...
Gen. Pascal
...
Rosita Morales (as Katherine de Mille)
...
Emilio Chavito
Phillip Cooper ...
...
Bugle Boy
...
Pancho Villa's Father
...
Wallace Calloway
Adrian Rosley ...
Alphonso Mendoza
...
Alfredo Mendosa

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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

...TOO BIG FOR HOLLYWOOD...it was dramatized in the heart of Mexico, with a cast of thousands! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Western

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 April 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Viva Villa  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,017,400 (estimated)

Gross:

$1,109,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Jonny Sykes: [typing] Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of Jonny Sykes.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Party (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

Artist's Life, Op.316
(1867) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
Played by the orchestra at the ball
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Should Have Been Viva Madero
7 December 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

I'm still not clear on how MGM got away with this film. Pancho Villa had only been dead for 10 years and his famous raid on Columbus, New Mexico almost 20 years. Surely not enough time for people to have forgotten Villa or what he did.

But the most famous thing he did, raid into the USA and provide a pretext for intervention into Mexican affairs, is completely forgotten by this film. The Villa we see here is a lovable lug of a guy, a typical Wallace Beery part who gets his social conscience awakened by Francisco Madero and gives up banditry to become a revolutionary.

If you're a big fan of Wallace Beery and liked him in such films as Min and Bill and Treasure Island than Viva Villa is simply an extension of the characters he played there.

Actually I think the most interesting character in the film is that of Francisco Madero. Henry B. Walthall's performance is the best and I wish Walthall had starred in a film where he was the central character. Madero was as you see in the film a man of high ideals, betrayed and assassinated by his supporters. But it was hardly Pancho Villa who took vengeance on his betrayers. After long time Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz was overthrown in 1911 and then Madero assassinated in 1912, Mexico fell apart much like the former Yugoslavia did almost 20 years ago. Civil war raged there for a generation. Eventually it united under the PRI party which elected all of its presidents until Vicente Fox.

I've never really liked this film, it stray so far from the facts it's laughable. The players go through their familiar roles and it's a good cast that Howard Hawks later Jack Conway put through their paces. Of course the most famous story coming out of this film is about Lee Tracy getting blotto and going out on a balcony and raining on some Mexican soldiers. Got him fired from the film and Stu Erwin got the break and Tracy's part as the newspaper reporter who popularizes Villa.

If in fact you consider it a break Erwin got to be in Viva Villa.


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