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 <email@example.com>
Filming began in 1931 in Mexico, but because of production delays, personnel changes and other problems, the film wasn't released until 1934. 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 »
Plenty of Action, Especially Behind the Camera
Viva Villa was a hard luck movie. Filmed in part on location in Mexico City, during production, a plane carrying movie footage to Culver City crashed, requiring reshoots of the lost material. Wallace Beery, always an obnoxious star, demanded extra salary before he would appear again in the lost scenes. Lee Tracy, who originally played the part of the newspaper reporter, while on location was accused of getting drunk and urinating from his balcony room onto revelers celebrating the Mexican Independence Day. Tracy's action caused a national scandal. MGM managed to smuggle him out of the country. Then Louis B. Mayer fired Tracy from MGM and also got him blacklisted. Tracy's replacement, Stuart Erwin, was terrible as the reporter. Due to the delays, Viva Villa did not get released until after July 1, 1934, the date the Motion Picture Production Code took effect. MGM had to make changes to meet new code requirements, such as a scene where Fay Wray's character is whipped. Jack Conway took over for Howard Hawks as director to finish the production, which may explain the change in the movie pacing. The movie starts off fast, with a great scene of Villa and his riders taking over a town and Villa issuing swift justice as the new judge in town. Viva Villa never maintains that pace. But,one big plus, Leo Carillo as Villa's homicidal sidekick is great.
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