The retelling of an incident in Gonzales, Texas in 1901 revolving around a stolen horse, mistaken identity and a killing. An unusual story of the all too usual exploitation of the powerless in Texas History.
The entire cause of the problem evolves from the use of a deputy to translate. His command of Spanish is inadequate and he mistranslates what a witness tells the sheriff as to whether the real perpetrator of the crime is riding a mare (yegua) or a male horse (caballo). This error results in destroying a family and the death of an innocent man.Written by
The author of the book, Américo Paredes, hated this movie. According to Paredes, Gregorio Cortez did not shed one tear while he was in jail and yet, Cortez cries in the movie. Anytime someone would ask him his thoughts about the movie, he would be so angry about it that he would refuse to discuss the movie and instead, would have his wife tell them why he disliked it. See more »
In the movie Cortez appears to be riding to the border through the Texas Hill Country, traversing high hills covered in cedar with low mountains in the background, and arrives near the Rio Grande in a mountainous area - obviously in West Texas. In reality, Cortez rode south from Karnes County and was captured near El Sauz in Starr County, mostly flat area with very low hills, if any, then known as "the wild horse desert" filled with prickly pear cactus and mesquite - not at all like the countryside depicted in the movie. See more »
A film deserving re-discovery-- a gritty allegory of bilingualism
Robert Young is an American director whose fitful opportunities to direct nearly always has turned up singular results. This treatment of the legend of a master horseman who evaded capture during weeks of vigilante pursuit shows Young's usual care with milieu, historical detail, and shadings of character. Olmos is a splendid icon in the lead, but the revelation is James Gammon, who never had a better film role, and the supporting cast is studded with fine character actors (including two who come over w/Olmos from the BLADE RUNNER set to appear here). A climactic scene, involving a female translator working between law and prisoner in a tiny cell, has stayed in my mind for 18 years for its depiction of a heartbreaking communion between adversaries. But Young knows what Westerns do best-- trains and horses, the two most cinematic subjects in the world-- and they're both here in aces.
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