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And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (2003)

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Hollywood makes a deal with Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa to film his war and recreate his life.



Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 9 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »



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Although some scenes were re-enacted after the fact, this is a real documentary on the struggle of Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa to overthrow dictator Porfirio Díaz . Directors Christy... See full summary »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Thayer
Sam Drebben
Harry Aitken
William Christy Cabanne
Teddy Sampson
William Benton (as Anthony Stewart Head)
Eli Morton
Cosme Alberto ...
Don Luis Terrazas (as Pedro Armendáriz)


Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa (Antonio Banderas) finds himself without adequate funding to finance his war against the military-run government. He also finds himself at odds with the Americans because of the Hearst media empire's press campaign against him. To counter both of these, he sends emissaries to movie producers to convince them to pay to film his progress and the actual battles. Producer D.W. Griffith (Colm Feore) becomes interested and sends Frank Thayer (Eion Bailey) with a film crew to develop film reels. Thayer becomes horrified and fascinated by the bandit. He finds an enigmatic individual that is both ghoulishly brutal and charmingly captivating. The resulting film became the first feature length movie, introducing scores of Americans to the true horrors of war that they had never personally seen. Thayer sold the studios on making the film despite their concerns that no one would sit through a movie longer than 1 hour by convincing them that they could raise the ... Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Lights. Camera. Revolution.


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Release Date:

7 September 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pancho Villa  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Pedro Armendáriz Jr., who plays Don Luis Terrazas, played Pancho Villa in Old Gringo (1989) and is the son of Pedro Armendáriz, who also played Pancho Villa in several Mexican movies. See more »


Irene Hunt was twenty-two years old in 1914. In the real film, she played one of two sisters (this film shows only Teddy Sampson playing one of them), not Villa's mother. See more »


D.W. Griffith: [on Pancho Villa] He's the James Boys, he's Billy the Kid, he's Napoleon all in one.
See more »


Referenced in The L Word: Pilot (2004) See more »


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User Reviews

A movie about a movie
7 September 2003 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

Every hero is guilty of some atrocities, and Pancho Villa was no exception. Antonio Banderas delivers a convincing performance as a complicated man who had the brilliance to use the majesty of his own personality to help finance a peasant revolution in Mexico.

As docudramas go, this one is very well balanced ... it reveals the darker side of a legend, the people who tried to manipulate him, and the people he manipulated. Although the original film, the making of which is the heart of this story, has been lost to the ages, it is nonetheless a moving story.

How much is history and how much is Hollywood? Who can say? All I know is that I was more impressed than I expected to be, and more than just being entertained and educated, I was given a lot of food for thought. I sincerely hope that a Spanish language version of this will be available so that the people of Mexico can learn a different version of his story than the one that is in the books in their schools.

This was two hours of my life that I'm glad I spent in front of the screen, and I thank everyone involved for the experience. It is not the best movie I've seen this year, nor will it ever be on my Top Ten list, but it *IS* a very good example of what cinema *SHOULD* be, and all too often is not ... a thought provoking drama that tells a slightly different story than the one we thought we knew.

21 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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