In New Mexico, a Confederate veteran returns home to find his fiancée married to a Union soldier, his Yankee neighbors rallied against him and his property sold by the local banker who then hires a gunman to kill him.
When Joe Valachi (Charles Bronson) has a price put on his head by Don Vito Genovese (Lino Ventura), he must take desperate steps to protect himself while in prison. An unsuccessful attempt ... See full summary »
Pulled into the Mexican Revolution by his own greed, Texas gunrunner & pilot Lee Arnold joins bandit-turned-patriot Pancho Villa & his band of dedicated men in a march across Mexico battling the Colorados & stealing women's hearts as they go. But each has a nemesis among his friends: Arnold is tormented by Fierro, Villa's right-hand-man; and Villa must face possible betrayal by his own president's naiveté. Written by
Yul Brynner was on Variety's list of Top Ten Overpriced Stars in 1968. See more »
Obvious ropes due to flying hay in the wall scene. See more »
You mean he was here in time to stop this?
Well, you see, it is like this: the people, they love my General, and they love Mexico... But they did not hate her enemies enough to fight. And now they do.
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Nice Western with history and fiction south of the border
"Villa Rides" says in the opening credits that it is a tribute to Pancho Villa. And, as presented, the film is indeed a tribute in which it paints the former Mexican bandit in pretty colors. We should remember that the Mexican revolutionary had attacked an American town, Columbus, New Mexico. So, the U.S. government sent our own Gen. John J. Pershing into Mexico to hunt down and capture or kill Francisco "Pancho" Villa. His pursuit lasted from March 1916 to February 1917. Pershing was recalled when WW I broke out. Of course, none of this is mentioned in this film.
So, remembering that Hollywood often glosses over history even rewrites it at times, viewers should always take films like this with a grain of salt as to their accuracy and truth. Of course, their enjoyment as entertainment is aside from that. Now, to counter that aspect, we should also remember that Villa was a real folk hero among the people. He was a Mexican "Robin Hood," who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He wasn't out for power himself, but was a genuine revolutionary for the freedom of the people.
We should also remember that it was after 1917 that the dictatorships in Mexico began to oppress the church and religion. Recent Mexican President Vicente Fox acknowledged and lamented the previous tyrannical governments. After 1917, Mexico outlawed religion, killed priests, confiscated and closed churches, and desecrated altars. Not until 1992 did this situation begin to change. Can it be any wonder why so many Mexicans would flee their country and want to live in the U.S. in the 20th century? Besides the economic hardships, the people were terribly persecuted and denied their basic rights.
Now for this film. It has a nice plot with some good action. The cast, for the most part, are quite good. Yul Bryner is very good as Pancho, although I suspect he is quite sanitized. Charles Bronson is very good as Fierro. Some other main characters are all quite good Fernando Rey as Fuentes, Alexander Knox as Madero, and Herbert Lom as General Huerta. You'll notice I've saved Robert Mitchum until last. His role just doesn't fit as he portrays it. We need the character for the plot, but Mitchum just does not seem to play him right. He seems way too nonchalant. The script, or directing, or acting, or all three needed a major rework there to make his character much more believable. It put a sort of pale of humor over the story, and I don't think it really should be humorous. Not when we see families distraught over the hanging of many of their fathers, husbands and sons by the government army. And, I've never thought it funny when women are raped.
So, I'll give this 7 stars for the action, the story and the roles of Bryner, Bronson and some others. Back to that opening credit on the film I'm sure that Paramount didn't mean to imply that Hollywood welcomes foreign governments to attack towns in the U.S. Or that it will honor them for doing so. But, wait a minute. I could be wrong about Hollywood.
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