Actor Pedro Armendáriz and director Roberto Gavaldón produced this strong rural melodrama, set in an iconic Mexican town, where landowners rule in a feudalistic manner (as they still do up to this day in many places). Probably Armendáriz produced the film as a reaction to his frequent casting as a passive indigenous peasant or too good loud-mouthed soldier: he is still shouting in this one, but now as Rosauro Castro, a mean and menacing tyrant who stops at nothing to control the town and its people. A moral tale written by Gavaldón and playwright José Revueltas (with dramatic elements that predate both "High Noon" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", from a story by Robert Quigley, British writer and filmmaker who frequently worked in Mexico), it starts with the killing of a candidate to mayor, and the arrival of a government official (Arturo Martínez in a rare performance as a good guy), who suspects of Castro's tyrannical ways and wants to teach the town authorities more civilized ways to administer justice. All the action takes place in 24 hours, with a highly dramatic third act, but everything is told in less than 90 satisfactory minutes.
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