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Alfred E. Green
A ruthless, comical, fun-loving, romantic rebel general, General Jose Juan Reyes, preparing to make a stand against the Mexican-government army takes over a small Mexican town and imprisons the town leaders, including the father of fiery Maria Dolores Penafiel, who is among those citizens who take a stand against Reyes. Maria protests by slapping the face of Reyes, (the first of many times) and he is so enthralled by her spirit that he immediately declares she must become his wife. In response, she shows some more spirit, she sets off a firecracker under his horse. Reyes begins to soften and, with the aid of Father Sierra and Maria, who is about to marry her local suitor, he helps the town fight an influenza epidemic. He decides to retreat than stage a battle in the town against the advancing government troops. Maria is so stirred by the bugles of the retreating rebels, that she leaves her marriage ceremony and marches with Reyes and his ragged army across the desert into the sunset. ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
While a distinguished film-maker in his native country, director Fernandez is perhaps best-known today for playing the heinous General Mapache in Sam Peckinpah's seminal THE WILD BUNCH (1969); for the record, later he was also the one to make the titular request in the same director's BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (1974). This genuinely oddball Western, then, was a Hollywood remake of Fernandez's own previous critical success ENAMORADA (1946) proving once again that the tradition in Tinseltown of looking for hot properties (when it comes to both subjects and their creators) in foreign lands is indeed a long-standing one; unfortunately, the end result here begins promisingly enough but gradually peters out. Anyway, apart from the director, Pedro Armendariz also reprises his earlier role of the Bandit General (which is how the film was known in the U.K.), while associate producer Paulette Goddard unwisely chose herself for the role of the leading lady. Ostensibly the town beauty, Goddard is far too old for the part but, sporting a completely misconceived schoolgirl look and playing it utterly over-the-top, her performance is forever threatening to bring the whole film crumbling down with it! Luckily, Fernandez gives the whole a remarkably visual texture (straight from the very opening scene in a glass factory) that lends it a presciently "Spaghetti Western" feel and the intermittent, awkward instances of goofy humor (including Goddard sending Armendariz literally flying off his horse into the air with a firecracker!) only serve to reinforce this impression. The third star featured here is Gilbert Roland but his role of the taciturn town priest (and old school friend of Armendariz's) is clearly subservient to the main couple who, inevitably, form a tenuous triangle with Goddard's dullish fiancée. The Mill Creek DVD I watched was a typically substandard edition that failed to do justice to celebrated cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa's (also from the original Mexican production) lyrical shots, and the hiss-laden soundtrack was similarly hard to sit through.
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