Mexico opens its account with a better than average railway adventure
This early Mexican film is really not a bad at all and a good deal more varied and interesting than the run-of-the-mill railway adventures churned out in the US in the tens and the early twenties although it is clearly influenced by them.
One of the elements that makes this very watchable is that there is not quite the same obvious good hat-bad hat opposition that makes the US films so predictable. While it is clear from the beginning that Adolfo (played by Villatora) is the goody and Paco (played by De los Rios) is the baddie, it is actually De los Rios who is the more attractive and dashing (and a natty dresser) through most of the film while Villatora comes over as a bit of a milksop with a very unfortunate taste in pullovers*. We actually experience much of the film from the point of view of the bandits, so remain, through most the film, rather divided in our loyalties. It is only his overbearing behaviour towards the lower caste characters Carmela and her little brother Pacheto and his rather unchivalrous abandonment of the heroine on a runaway train that turns one against Paco and which is indeed the cause of his undoing. But even then there is a twist or two in the plot to come.....
Nor are we restricted here to railway derring-do (the usual leaps onto and off trains, train-top battles and last-minute escapes from under the train's wheels) but also get masked burglary and a bullfight for our money. All of this adds considerable spice and makes for a very watchable adventure-film. And the Mexican trains on the mountain route (it was a recent line - we get to see the sign outside the station marked "1923" and the film was made with the sponsorship of the railway company) are a joy.....
*It is actually what the French call "un pull jacquard" of vaguely ethnic inspiration. Jean Marais ponces around in one in L'Éternel retour (1943) which actually led to a brief fashion for the ghastly things in France after the war.
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