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After delivering his prize bulls from Texas to a mysterious buyer in the Amazon, Glen Ford is reluctantly drawn into a dispute between a wealthy rancher, a beautiful women, homesteaders and Brazilian bandits. A vintage performance by Ford is complemented by Cesar Romero, as the bandit "El Gato." The sexy Abbe Lane pulls off a song in the middle of the movie that showcases her then husband, Xavier Cugat's, Latin score. Americans in the 1950's were fascinated with the Amazon, one of North America's last frontiers. With some great second unit wildlife shots, this is not Monument Valley. If you can enjoy an old time western, with its stoic hero and sharp moral choices, set in 1950's Brazil, then this one is for you.
Four years before he would be known as the master of the gimmick,
William Castle directed this South of the border Western starring Glenn
Ford, Cesar Romero, Abby Lane and Frank Lovejoy. In true William Castle
style, tho let it be known it wasn't always his fault, The Americano
was met with a number of problems. Not least that after being afforded
a considerable budget by RKO standards, they ran out of money half way
thru. With most of the shoot being in the Matto Grosso jungle in
Brazil, where it's believed that Budd Boetticher took control of the
shoot, they had to hop tail it back to Hollywood where the project sat
in limbo for months. By the time of the reconvene, original choice for
the role of Teresa, Sara Montiel, had moved onto Warner Bros and was no
longer available after having her RKO contract cancelled for the film.
In came Abby Lane and all the scenes with Teresa in had to be re-shot.
The plot sees Ford as Texas cowboy Sam Dent who agrees to take on a job of delivering prize Bulls to a mysterious buyer down near the Amazon in Brazil. However, when he gets there he finds that the man he was meant to meet has been murdered. Quickly making friends with Manuel (Romero), Dent finds that there is a range war going on and that bandits run rife in the area. Trying to stay neutral he finds that he may have to pick a side after all. Does he trust Manuel, a well known bandit by all accounts, be loyal to Bento Hermanny (Lovejoy) who has given him a roof over his head, or pitch in with the lovely Marianna Figuerido (Ursula Thiess) who he is starting to get sweet on? Either way it possibly spells trouble for him.
Amiable, if over used, story that becomes watchable due to the efforts of Ford (as cool as ever) and Romero (who walks away with the movie), The Americano is clearly not the movie the makers set out to make. It was a bold move to make a Western down by the Amazon, not least because the locale should have made for rich pickings. But the problems off screen are up there on the screen. It's photographed by William E. Snyder (Creature from the Black Lagoon/Flying Leathernecks) and the locale is not utilised at all. Shot in Technicolor, the jungle sadly looks grey and almost ashen. There's a little bit of good lens work for a fire sequence, but the majority of it is very poor. They may as well have just built a cheap jungle set at the California base where the rest of the film was shot. The editing is bad and some scenes are blighted by basic errors, watch as Ford is hand tied on his horse one minute then rides an escape in free hand the next! Then there is the awful performance of Thiess, so bad it's obvious why she didn't go on to have a career in Hollywood. This in spite of Howard Hughes manfully fighting her corner.
However, this is a film I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to my Western loving friends on proviso they don't expect too much. Ford and Romero are worth it, as is a couple of scenes such as a pitch fork fight and a dandy piranha dangle sequence. While for the boys Lane warbles and wobbles in a very engaging way. So a big case of not what it should have been, but not without its merits either, and certainly fun enough to adequately fill a couple of hours of undemanding time. 5.5/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Set in Brazil, this story of a range war between farmers and ranchers and the man caught between them could easily have been set in Texas or Oklahoma just as well. In fact, after a while, one wishes for Charlotte Greenwood to come out and sing a verse of "The Farmer and the Cowman" to just call the whole thing off! Ford plays the owner of 3 prize bulls en route to Brazil to sell them for $25,000 (which he intends to use to buy a spread with his brother back home.) Upon arrival, he finds one man dead and a range war in full swing between slick, but imperious Lovejoy and fiery, yet attractive Thiess. It shouldn't be hard to figure out which one Ford will gravitate towards. He befriends the ne'er do well Romero, a local man who attracts trouble wherever he goes, and the two form a tenuous alliance in the midst of plenty of violence and reprisals. The vast jungles of Brazil are treated like some small town as the participants of this convoluted story seem to always be running into each other or popping up in just the right spot at just the right time for the story. Lots of stock jungle footage is spliced into the picture to add "flavor" to the tale, notably some shots of piranha devouring alligators. The color photography is sometimes striking and other times poor with noticeable differences in quality from shot to shot. Ford seems to be slumming here in a pedestrian and very minor film (directed by the later-to-be-notorious Castle.) Lovejoy is solid, but lacks the charisma to really sell his questionable character. Romero is hammy, but welcome, as his presence adds a little life to the often drab proceedings. Thiess, advertised at the time as "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" is actually outshone by Lane as a "housekeeper" who looks like she spends more time on her make up and her tan than on scrubbing toilet bowls. She provides a blatantly superfluous musical number (conducted by her husband at the time, Xavier Cugat) in which she sashays around in an off-the-shoulder blouse, hips swinging, while local musicians replicate the musical quality of a major orchestra! Made at a time when America was nuts for all things Latin American (see also "The Naked Jungle" and even "The Opposite Sex"!), it's really just an Old West story penciled into a new setting (though Ford's blue denim jacket does stand out nicely against the lush greens of the jungle.) There's nothing particularly special about it, but fans of the cast might enjoy passing an hour and a half with it.
Watchable and standard Western set in flashy Brazil about classic
confrontation between cattlemen and homesteaders . There are wonderful
, showy outdoors shot on spectacular territory and it displays action ,
shootouts , violence and though sometimes is slow-moving , isn't tiring
neither dreary , sustaining the interest for quite a while . It deals
with an American who takes a small herd of Brahma bulls and undertakes
the long drives began from Texas to Brazil where he has sold them for a
small fortune that is subsequently robbed . Later on , the American
working on a ranch in the Amazon comes up against a gang of Brazilian
bandits (Cesar Romero) . The American named Sam Dent fights to stifle
the conflicts between homesteaders (led by Ursula Thies) and cattleman
(Frank Lovejoy) who hires gunfighters . Texas cowboy become involved
with a group of bad guys versus Brazilian good guys in this
way-south-of-the-border Western . Meanwhile , he is hired for a time to
keep the peace and develops a love story with the wealthy owner. But
the Amazon becomes notorious for its lawlessness .
The picture gets action Western , shootouts , a love story , musical numbers (in charge of a gorgeous Abbe Lane) and is quite entertaining . A formula film featuring the standard grand opening , an enjoyable change of scenery , dramatic problem-posing center and slang-bang climax , but a nice entertaining Western nonetheless . It's a medium budget film with good actors , technicians, cheap production values and pleasing results . Bright scenarios shot in Brazil and Riverside, California , though there are excessive stock-shots. The main asset results to be the change of scenery , but a familiar theme : homesteaders against cattlemen make this movie all but a little bit pedestrian . Acceptable acting by Glenn Ford as a Texas cowboy gets embroiled with bad guys and finds himself in the middle of a range war . Commendable support cast as Frank Lovejoy , Cesar Romero , Rodolfo Hoyos and the gorgeous Abbe Lane , though Sara Montiel was originally cast for the role of Teresa and filmed some sequences in the Matto Grosso jungle . Atmospheric musical score by Roy Webb , including agreeable songs ; being danced and sung by Abbe Lane and composed and conducted by her husband Xavier Cugat .
This low-budgeted motion picture was professionally directed by William Castle . He was an expert craftsman with some of the all-time great schlock names serving as the producer Sam Katzman and fondness for gimmicks as proved in his successful terror films such as House of haunted hill , The Tingler , Mr Sardonicus , Strait-jacked , Homicidal , Macabre and 13 Ghosts . Castle emulated Alfred Hitchcock , this included the practice of appearing in the trailers, and even making cameo appearances in his films . Furthermore , he made several Western such as 1955 Duel on the Mississippi , 1955 The Gun That Won the West ,1955 El Americano , 1954 Masterson of Kansas , 1954 The Law vs. Billy the Kid , 1954 Jesse James vs. the Daltons , 1954 Battle of Rogue River , 1953 Fort Ti , 1951 cave of outlaws. Rating : 6. Acceptable and passable
The main problem with The Americano I feel is it's a film that should
never have been undertaken by a studio that was on its way out. Yet RKO
was in fact lucky enough to get this thing done and released at all. At
least one member of the original cast, Sarita Montiel, never finished
it and her scenes had to be reshot with Abbe Lane.
The Americano is a story about a Texas cattle breeder who has bred three prize Brahma bulls and is selling them to a rancher in Brazil. Glenn Ford as the rancher hopes that the money will help him and his brother get started on a new place of their own. He's accompanying the bulls to Brazil and is expecting to get $2500.00 for them.
Of course when he gets there his potential buyer is dead and Ford is soon involved in a local range war, something you've seen in a gazillion American westerns. The dead man's partner, Frank Lovejoy is himself the he bull of the valley trying to push out the other smaller ranchers and farmers like Ursula Thiess.
It was an ambitious undertaking that RKO did, a studio that was on its last legs since Howard Hughes sold it and didn't want it for a plaything any more. The location shooting in Brazil is the best thing about The Americano. A studio like MGM or Paramount should have done this film, with a better story. As it was the film shut down and then was completed stateside in California because it ran out of money. Ford walks through the film looking like a man who was worried his salary check wouldn't clear.
Cesar Romero has an interesting if undefined role as a local bandit who winds up helping the local police. As for Lovejoy there is an interesting gay subtext to his role. He tries to get Ford to stay in Brazil and partner with him, but Ford says he has to get back to Texas and his family. Then Lovejoy pays him and then sets up a robbery where one of his own men is killed so Ford has to return. Now just why was he craving Ford's company so much?
Ford's got eyes for Ursula Thiess though and when he's forced to choose a side, his duty is clear. That upsets Lovejoy even more.
The panorama of the Amazon forest deserved a film of the epic sweep of Gone With The Wind or even Duel In The Sun. What it got was a warmed over range war plot that could have come from a Roy Rogers film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The idea of giving a South American location as transfusion to an old
formula doesn't really change much in this transplanted "western".
Texan cowboy Glen Ford is commissioned to deliver three prime Brahma
bulls to a Brazilian rancher, Frank Lovejoy, who has dreams of "Empire"
even if it means ridding the area of any farmers who disturb the
landscape. Nothing here in the story to suggest good or new idea, but
the presence of TWO screen beauties, Ursula Theiss and Abbe Lane, do
make for an occasional worthwhile focus while we romp through a variety
of predicaments in the jungles and farmland of some vivid color
filming. I recommend you see it just for Ms. Lane's song/dance around
the wilderness campfire. Out of nowhere the jungle trek peasant workers
pull out musical instruments and play as if they just finished their
training of five years at Julliard. Her virtuoso performance is
enticing enough to keep Caesar Romero grinning and puts Glenn Ford in
the mood for something else with Ms Theiss besides the three Brahma
bulls he's been courting throughout the movie. Abbe's luscious good
looks and body teasing actions are not quite equal to Maria Montez in
"Cobra Woman", but definitely puts her on the remember chart. Nature
lovers will appreciate the throw-in shots of alligators, Parana fish,
leopards, giant snakes, monkeys, exotic birds and big bugs. I kept
thinking Frank Buck must be somewhere in the supporting cast.
In a Brazilian nutshell the whole doesn't come close to equaling a few parts, but it's worth a look if you like beautiful ladies, and don't mind a passive Glenn Ford who seems to want it all to end as soon as possible...Maximus
The Americano is an entertaining film which has an interesting story, but which could have been much better. It is hard to understand why after getting known actors like Glenn Ford, Cesar Romero, Abbe Lane and Ursula Thiess, the production seems so poor like it was done on a very small budget. Mato Grosso, in Brazil where the action occurs is an impressive place, and the cinematography does no justice to it. To enjoy the film you also have to overlook the fact that Ford as a Texan coming to a remote place in Brazil has no problems with the language because they all speak English, and instead of Portuguese, Spanish seems to be their native language!!! Abbe Lane does a spectacular dance number and just that is worth the film, it does not matter that the music is by Xavier Cugat and has nothing to do with Brazil. Ford brings bulls from Texas and after he delivers them and gets 25000 dollars, what does he do? He goes and sleeps in the jungle with the money. Guess what happens!!! If the film would have come out as originally intended, filmed in Brazil and directed by Budd Boetticher it could have been much better. Unfortunately bad weather, lack of financial resources, problems with the crew were responsible for only a minimal part of the finished movie (if any) to be filmed in Brazil.
This is a much better Technicolor production than many of the other Castle films of the era. Castle brings back his oblique staging/blocking and adds some interesting low and high angle shots (which had been poorly employed in preceding Castle films) in order to develop a clear psychological motivation for the titular character. The shot-reverse-shot construction is more subtle than previous Technicolor Castle films, making the suture smoother and thus more endearing for the spectator. Depth of field creeps back into Castle's stylistic system in this film, aided by picturesque natural exteriors. Castle plays around with montage again, purposeful as ellipsis and appropriate to plot progression. I am reserved in labeling certain elements of the production as budget due to the possibility of a poor transfer for the copy I viewed (in particular I am referring to the cross-cut shots of wild animals). The script is more natural and a nice fit for the milieu of the film - real people talking honestly to each other. Pace slows and shot-reverse-shot construction gets sloppy half way through the film but is compensated for by some frantic action sequences that distinguish a morality for Ford's character that drives the rest of the narrative forward. There is a nice song (musical number) tri-functional as entr'acte for the story, prompt for budding romantic subplots and homage to the chanchadas of Brazil (ironic, given that after all the Columbia Pictures distribution of Castle's films that The Americano was released through RKO). It was at this time that Columbia Pictures's exploitation of the Brazilian film market was reaching critical mass and spurring the development of the Cinema Novo counter-cinema movement. Dramatic confessions under extreme duress perfectly mirror Castle's The Chance of a Lifetime (1943) and tease out a neat closure to a film that operated with few plot contrivances.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm a big fan of Glenn Ford, Frank Lovejoy, and Cesar Romero, but this
movie goes terribly astray. One must take into account that when this
movie was made, the world was less sophisticated, so the lame
travelogue aspects of the first half hour were probably exciting, new,
and "never-seen-before" footage. Now it is obvious, boring, and an
incredibly poor job of editing some location shooting with bad stock
footage. Lovejoy and Romero are both presented as smiling bad guys,
with Glenn Ford and the audience left to uncover who is truly bad and
who Ford should side with. Romero's character was over-the-top and
annoying, while I thought Lovejoy gave a very nice, textured portrayal.
That being said, I just couldn't care less about either of them, their
range war, or who Ford was going to side with. He was back and forth
between the two men so often, I started to get dizzy, and, remarkably,
throughout most of the 90 minutes, NOTHING gets done! It's just a
There are murders, attempted rapes, treachery, and much thievery, but neither the script, nor the director (William Castle), generate even the SLIGHTEST bit of tension. A perfect example: In the beginning of the film, Cesar Romero is supposed to lead Ford and his bulls across a river, but warns of the Pirahna fish that will devour the bulls, so he chases a crocodile into the river downstream, the Pirahna chase after the croc, and our hero gets his bulls across safely. It is OBVIOUSLY a set-up for later, but throughout the film, they ride TWO times across the river without even pausing or "distracting" the fish, which completely undermines the set-up. The ultimate undermining shows its effect during the scene toward the end of the film where they threaten to drop the bad guy's henchman into the river if he doesn't confess. Because the Pirahna threat has been undermined throughout half the film instead of bolstered by constant tension and references, the scene becomes a hokey "convenience" that holds zero tension. It's ruined and wasted moments like that which drag the film down.
The script is awful, with a banal plot that goes nowhere, generates no interest, and has a thoroughly unsatisfying ending. Speaking of the ending, we are forced to endure a painfully awkward romance between Ford and a female rancher (Theiss) who have ZERO chemistry together. Ford is lecherous and smarmy (which are not particularly enjoyable qualities in a supposed hero), but he eventually beds Theiss. Ford then sides with Theiss when everything she owns is destroyed so the bad guy can take her land. Ford & Theiss have formed a great bond and romantic relationship, right? Evidently, not, as the end of the movie consists of the evil henchman (Hoyos) that Ford has been at odds with since the beginning of the movie being killed in a boring fight scene with... CESAR ROMERO (Uhh, what was the purpose of building the "tension" and animosity between Hoyos and Ford then?)! Ford goes up against the main bad guy and kills him...OFFSCREEN! And then the movie ends without a single shot of, or reference to, Ursula Theiss, her ranch, her relationship with Ford, etc.! Ford just kills the bad guy, walks off into the jungle, The End. Huh?! Every possible plot point is tied up in the MOST unsatisfactory way. It was as if the producers went out of there way to ruin every aspect of this movie.
I am being incredibly generous and giving this movie a 2 out of 10 because of solid performances by Glenn Ford, Frank Lovejoy, and the insanely sexy Abbe Lane...they did the best they could with a boring script and truly awful directing job by the usually entertaining William Castle.
The Americano (1955)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
William Castle's Western is pretty familiar on many grounds but it's also a lot different on others, which makes it worth checking out. American Sam Dent (Glenn Ford) heads to Brazil to sell his cattle so that he and his brother can live better but once there he gets in the middle of a land owner (Frank Lovejoy) and a "bandit" (Cesar Romero) who are battling each other. THE AMERICANO, story wise, really doesn't offer us anything we haven't seen countless times before so if you're looking for something original then you're certainly not going to find it here. Based on story alone this film would be worth skipping but what makes it so entertaining and worth watching are the locations. The Brazilian jungle really makes for an interesting setting and I must admit that it was a lot of fun seeing some routine Western scenes "updated" for the location. How many times have we seen a scene where the cowboy must take the cattle across some water? Well, in the scene here the problem is that there are crocodiles and piranhas in the water. How many times have we seen the cowboy beat or threaten a bad guy into telling the truth about something? Well, in this film those same piranhas are used to get him to talk. I really enjoyed seeing these familiar scenes updated to the setting and throw in the Technicolor and this really makes the film worth seeing. It also features some good performances with Ford leading the way playing a good guy like only he can. Lovejoy was extremely entertaining and steals every scene he's in and Romero is also very good in his role. Castle's direction isn't anything ground-breaking but he does a good job piecing everything together and keeping the film flowing at a nice pace.
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