In this fictionalized biography, young Pancho Villa takes to the hills after killing an overseer in revenge for his father's death. In 1910, he befriends American reporter Johnny Sykes. Then a meeting with visionary Francisco Madero transforms Villa from an avenging bandit to a revolutionary general. To the tune of 'La Cucaracha,' his armies sweep Mexico. After victory, Villa's bandit-like disregard for human life forces Madero to exile him. But Madero's fall brings Villa back to raise the people against a new tyrant...Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film had its first television showing in Seattle Saturday 22 December 1956 on KING (Channel 5), followed by Los Angeles Friday 28 December 1956 on KTTV (Channel 11), and by New York City Saturday 12 January 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2) ; it first aired in Phoenix 26 January 1957 on KPHO (Channel 5), in both Omaha and Portland OR 9 February 1957 on WOW (Channel 6) and KGW (Channel 8), in Philadelphia 12 March 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), in Chicago 20 April 1957 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Altoona PA 21 July 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10) and in Minneapolis 13 September 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9); in San Francisco it first aired 23 November 1958 on KGO (Channel 7). See more »
The film strongly implies that Pancho Villa took Mexico City by himself, and then made himself president. In fact, the city was taken in a three-pronged attack by Villa's forces and those of two other revolutionary generals, Emiliano Zapata and Venustiano Carranza. After the city was taken and Huerta fled, the three generals ruled together, although Zapata soon went home and Carranza eventually forced Villa out of power, defeating his forces and ruling Mexico by himself. See more »
In the original version of this film, during the scene in which Wallace Beery tries to rape Fay Wray and she shoots him in the arm, Beery horsewhips her after she begins laughing hysterically at him. The whipping is shown only by their shadows on the wall. After the Production Code went into effect, this scene was edited, and it is the edited version that was officially available for years. In 2015, the scene was restored, and was reinstated in the Warner Archive Collection DVD. See more »
Artist's Life, Op.316
Music by Johann Strauss
Played by the orchestra at the ball See more »
Should Have Been Viva Madero
I'm still not clear on how MGM got away with this film. Pancho Villa had only been dead for 10 years and his famous raid on Columbus, New Mexico almost 20 years. Surely not enough time for people to have forgotten Villa or what he did.
But the most famous thing he did, raid into the USA and provide a pretext for intervention into Mexican affairs, is completely forgotten by this film. The Villa we see here is a lovable lug of a guy, a typical Wallace Beery part who gets his social conscience awakened by Francisco Madero and gives up banditry to become a revolutionary.
If you're a big fan of Wallace Beery and liked him in such films as Min and Bill and Treasure Island than Viva Villa is simply an extension of the characters he played there.
Actually I think the most interesting character in the film is that of Francisco Madero. Henry B. Walthall's performance is the best and I wish Walthall had starred in a film where he was the central character. Madero was as you see in the film a man of high ideals, betrayed and assassinated by his supporters. But it was hardly Pancho Villa who took vengeance on his betrayers. After long time Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz was overthrown in 1911 and then Madero assassinated in 1912, Mexico fell apart much like the former Yugoslavia did almost 20 years ago. Civil war raged there for a generation. Eventually it united under the PRI party which elected all of its presidents until Vicente Fox.
I've never really liked this film, it stray so far from the facts it's laughable. The players go through their familiar roles and it's a good cast that Howard Hawks later Jack Conway put through their paces. Of course the most famous story coming out of this film is about Lee Tracy getting blotto and going out on a balcony and raining on some Mexican soldiers. Got him fired from the film and Stu Erwin got the break and Tracy's part as the newspaper reporter who popularizes Villa.
If in fact you consider it a break Erwin got to be in Viva Villa.
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