Old Gringo (1989)

R  |   |  Adventure, History, Romance  |  6 October 1989 (USA)
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When school teacher Harriet Winslow goes to Mexico to teach, she is kidnapped by Gen. Tomas Arroyo and his revolutionaries. An aging American, Ambrose "Old Gringo" Bierce also in Mexico, ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay) (as Aida Bortnik) , 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gen. Tomas Arroyo
Patricio Contreras ...
Col. Frutos Garcia
Jenny Gago ...
La Garduna
Gabriela Roel ...
La Luna
Zacarias (as Sergio Calderon)
Monsalvo (as Guillermo Rios)
Samuel Valadez De La Torre ...
Consul Saunders
Anne Pitoniak ...
Mrs. Winslow
Pancho Villa (as Pedro Armendariz Jr.)
Stanley Grover ...
Gen. Saunders
Josefina Echánove ...
Clementina (as Josefina Echanove)
Capt. Ovando (as Pedro Damian)


When school teacher Harriet Winslow goes to Mexico to teach, she is kidnapped by Gen. Tomas Arroyo and his revolutionaries. An aging American, Ambrose "Old Gringo" Bierce also in Mexico, befriends Gen. Arroyo and meets Harriet. Bierce is a famous writer, who knowing that he is dying, wishes to keep his identity secret so he can determine his own fate. Though he likes Arroyo, Bierce tries to provoke the General's anger whenever possible in an attempt to get himself killed, thus avoiding suffering through his illness. Winslow is intrigued by both Bierce and Arroyo, and the men are in turn attracted to her. She becomes romantically involved with Arroyo. When Winslow learns of Bierce's true identity (a writer whose work she has loved and respected for years), she is singlemindedly determined to fulfill his dying wish. Written by E.W. DesMarais <jlongst@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A woman inspired by a man of dreams swept into the arms of a general, and drawn into a worlds of danger.


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Release Date:

6 October 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gringo viejo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,574,256 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to the American Humane Association, the scene involving the shooting of General Arroyo's horse had no humane representative present but the AHA spoke with Gregory Peck, who was present during the entire filming of the scene. Peck described in great detail how the shocking effect was achieved, and assured the AHA that the horse, Twister, was not harmed. The AHA went to the California ranch where Twister is kept so that we could observe him recreate his specialty fall. Twister performed beautifully and is in excellent condition. See more »


At the end of the movie as Harriet Winslow is crossing the Rio Grande, the river flows from right to left. If she were actually crossing the border from Mexico to America (northward), the river would flow from left to right (eastward). See more »


Mrs. Winslow: How can you be so disrespectful of your father's memory?
Harriet Winslow: I'm not being disrespectful, Mother. I'm being honest. From now on, I'm gonna be honest with my father's memory.
See more »

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User Reviews

Suicide By Revolution
9 May 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Mexico in the teen years of the last century was no place to be, not even for Mexicans as the country broke down completely after the overthrow of dictator Porfirio Diaz. A lot of people grabbed for power, including one Pancho Villa who got emboldened enough to cross the U.S. border and shoot up Columbus, New Mexico. That got Woodrow Wilson to sending the army to capture Villa without success.

But that's getting way ahead of this story. It concerns American writer Ambrose Bierce who went to revolutionary Mexico and disappeared into obscurity much in the manner of the French poet Francois Villon. The plot of this film offers a theory as to what could have happened to Bierce.

Dominating the film is Gregory Peck in the title role. He captures Bierce in all of his sardonic cynicism for which his writing lives on. This Bierce has all the reason to just want to leave his world behind, his wife had recently died, but not after being discovered to be involved with another man. Two of his three children, both of his sons died violent deaths. Bierce was a man who felt he had no reason to live on.

Peck gets involved with two other people in a romantic triangle, Jane Fonda as a spinster who gets hired to tutor some landowner children and Jimmy Smits who's using the revolution to settle some personal scores with that same landowner family. In fact Smits gets himself rather caught up in the whole ambiance of being to the manor born with what he feels are good reasons.

All though all three of the leads have been in much better product, Old Gringo still is a good piece of cinema and does capture some of the anarchy that was revolutionary Mexico.

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