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Valdez Is Coming (1971)

 -  Western  -  9 April 1971 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 2,054 users  
Reviews: 49 user | 6 critic

A Mexican-American sheriff must resort to violence against a powerful rancher in order to get just compensation for the pregnant Indian widow of a wrongly killed black man.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Gay Erin
Frank Silvera ...
Diego
...
Frank Tanner
...
R.L. Davis
Barton Heyman ...
El Segundo
...
Mexican Rider
Phil Brown ...
Malson
Ralph Brown ...
Beaudry
Werner Hasselmann ...
Sheriff (as Werner Hassleman)
Lex Monson ...
Rincon
Sylvia Poggioli ...
Segundo's Girl (as Sylvia Paggioli)
José García García ...
Carlos (as Jose Garcia Garcia)
María Montez ...
Anita (as Maria Montez)
Juanita Penaloza ...
Indian Woman
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Storyline

The town constable, Bob Valdez, is forced to kill someone accused by Frank Tanner of being a murderer. Valdez asks Tanner for monetary help for the man's wife, but he is ridiculed and almost killed by Tanner's henchmen. Valdez recovers and summons up his days in the U.S. Cavalry in order to fight them. Valdez wounds one of the henchmen and sends him back to Tanner with the message, "Valdez is coming." Written by Robbie Burns <burnodo@usit.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They tore his body. They buried his pride. But they forgot his old uniform, his Sharps rifle, and his Buffalo gun. Find Tanner, El Segundo, and the 16 others. And tell them Valdez is coming. See more »

Genres:

Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence, brief nudity and some language | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

9 April 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Valdez  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Feature film debuts of Jon Cypher and Richard Jordan. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the film, when Valdez is riding hidden between two horses, a wire is visible holding the horses' bridles together, so that they won't separate during Lancaster's close-up. See more »

Quotes

Bob Valdez: You know something? I would have liked to get $100 for that Indian woman.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Minnie and Moskowitz (1971) See more »

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User Reviews

 
valdez is coming
27 November 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Like Martin Ritt's 'Hombre', made a few years earlier, this was adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel, and, like 'Hombre', it presents as its hero someone from an oppressed minority who is forced into a confrontation against heavy odds, due to the violent actions of some unscrupulous characters who hold him in racial contempt. Happening across a shooting party, Mexican lawman Bob Valdez is forced into a confrontation with an innocent army veteran, a black man accused by the rancher who's leading the party of a murder he didn't commit. Stricken with guilt at having killed the man, Valdez tries to get the rancher to give him $100 to compensate the dead man's Native American widow; however, he's met with contempt and physical violence, and the main part of the film sees him taking his revenge. (Although one should note that it's not straightforward revenge, as Valdez is acting as much to prove a point – to make the rancher accept his guilt and show some concern towards the oppressed – as he is to avenge a personal slight or injury.) Less downbeat and more unbelievable in its development than 'Hombre', this is nonetheless a film I wanted to like, and one which certainly has something to lift it above your average western. It's not a 'message' picture, as was the vogue at the time ('Little Big Man', 'Solider Blue' et al); rather, its revisionism is gentle and easy to miss, often just a seemingly throw-away line (asked when he hunted Apache, the titular hero replies "before I know better"). The fact that Valdez is a Mexican also runs counter to the usual western clichés of those 'over the border' being either caricatured bandidos (Calvera from 'The Magnificent Seven' and General Mapache from 'The Wild Bunch') or poor, oppressed farmers, essentially innocent but often incapable of defending themselves without the help of white mercenaries (again, we can turn to 'The Magnificent Seven' and 'The Wild Bunch' for examples). Indeed, an exchange between Valdez and his old friend Diego, where Valdez impersonates the rancher who will prove the villain of the piece, nicely captures the mix of scorn and idealisation which characterises the white man's view of the Mexican: "well, you're a good greaser, Diego. As long as you're a good greaser, I treat you fair and square – yes sirree, Diego, you people sure know how to live: singing, dancing, screwing – you don't worry about nothing." It's one of the best moments of the film, in part because it's so understated, yet underlain with a certain dramatic tension: having begun wryly, ironically, Lancaster delivers the final line with what is almost a sigh; a shift to a new, quiet seriousness and determination which is signalled by the faint rattle of Morricone-esquire percussion on the soundtrack, and which sees him ride out on his horse for his near-fatal second encounter with the rancher.

Given all this, it's unfortunate that the Mexican is played by a white man in make-up, although I'd accept that, back in the 70s, there were less bankable Latin stars of the kind who crop up in Hollywood films today (one can imagine Benicio del Toro playing this role, for example). Not that Burt Lancaster's make-up is particularly bad; and, after all, the fact that he played the hero of Robert Aldrich's 'Apache' in similar 'brown-face' didn't prevent him from giving a very fine performance in a very fine film. His blue eyes do look a little out of place here though, and the henchman character, 'El Segundo', looks like a pantomime villain, with hair that sprouts in huge, wild tufts on either side of his head, and dollops of face-paint which make him look like Laurence Olivier's Othello. Indeed, several of the protagonists also look distinctly like 70s TV characters: I'm thinking primarily of the woman Valdez kidnaps, and her man, the villain of the piece.

Particularly in the second half of the film, 'Valdez is Coming' threatens to become a rather tedious revenge/chase movie, though the plot is slightly more complex than this. Nonetheless, there is something rather pulpy about the way that Lancaster turns from put-upon minor lawman to brilliantly competent guerrilla fighter, shooting a man from a 1,000 yards, easily picking off the numerous armed riders sent after him, and sneaking into the heart of the enemy camp without anyone noticing. It's particularly noticeable partly because of the understated, resigned quality that characterises his performance in the initial stages of the film: moving slowly and speaking carefully, almost deferentially, Valdez is a character not exactly resigned to his lot (which is being treated with open or concealed contempt by his white neighbours) but understandably cautious about being too outspoken. From the moment he pulls his old army gear from under the bed and starts to growl, "Valdez is coming," he is suddenly athletic, hyper-alert, and a crack shot who never misses the target. Imposing such a cliché on what could have been a reasonably realistic look at life in the Old West means that the film fails to live up to its initial promise. The end result is a rather uneasy compromise between action-movie set-pieces and something more thoughtful and interesting. Still, it's worth an hour and a half of your time – even if that's for what it could have been more than for what it is.


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