5.8/10
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19 user 17 critic

Old Gringo (1989)

Trailer
1:40 | Trailer
When school teacher Harriet Winslow goes to Mexico to teach, she is kidnapped by Gen. Tomas Arroyo and his revolutionaries. An aging American, Ambrose "Old Gringo" Bierce also in Mexico, ... See full summary »

Director:

Luis Puenzo

Writers:

Carlos Fuentes (novel), Aída Bortnik (screenplay) (as Aida Bortnik) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jane Fonda ... Harriet Winslow
Gregory Peck ... Bitter
Jimmy Smits ... Arroyo
Patricio Contreras ... Col. Frutos Garcia
Jenny Gago ... La Garduna
Gabriela Roel ... La Luna
Sergio Calderón ... Zacarias (as Sergio Calderon)
Guillermo Ríos ... Monsalvo (as Guillermo Rios)
Jim Metzler ... Ron
Samuel Valadez De La Torre Samuel Valadez De La Torre ... Consul Saunders
Anne Pitoniak Anne Pitoniak ... Mrs. Winslow
Pedro Armendáriz Jr. ... Pancho Villa (as Pedro Armendariz Jr.)
Stanley Grover Stanley Grover ... Gen. Saunders
Josefina Echánove ... Clementina (as Josefina Echanove)
Pedro Damián ... Capt. Ovando (as Pedro Damian)
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Storyline

When school teacher Harriet Winslow goes to Mexico to teach, she is kidnapped by Gen. Tomas Arroyo and his revolutionaries. An aging American, Ambrose "Old Gringo" Bierce also in Mexico, befriends Gen. Arroyo and meets Harriet. Bierce is a famous writer, who knowing that he is dying, wishes to keep his identity secret so he can determine his own fate. Though he likes Arroyo, Bierce tries to provoke the General's anger whenever possible in an attempt to get himself killed, thus avoiding suffering through his illness. Winslow is intrigued by both Bierce and Arroyo, and the men are in turn attracted to her. She becomes romantically involved with Arroyo. When Winslow learns of Bierce's true identity (a writer whose work she has loved and respected for years), she is singlemindedly determined to fulfill his dying wish. Written by E.W. DesMarais <jlongst@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A woman inspired by a man of dreams swept into the arms of a general, and drawn into a worlds of danger. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the American Humane Association, the scene involving the shooting of Gen. Arroyo's horse had no humane representative present but the AHA spoke with Gregory Peck, who was present during the entire filming of the scene. Peck described in great detail how the shocking effect was achieved, and assured the AHA that the horse, Twister, was not harmed. The AHA went to the California ranch where Twister is kept so that they could observe him re-create his specialty fall. He did, and they determined that he was in excellent health. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the movie as Harriet Winslow is crossing the Rio Grande, the river flows from right to left. If she were actually crossing the border from Mexico to America (northward), the river would flow from left to right (eastward). See more »

Quotes

Gen. Tomas Arroyo: Do you want to drink with me?
Ambrose Bierce: I thought you didn't drink.
Gen. Tomas Arroyo: Oh, I don't drink with the living. But tonight I come to visit the dead, to celebrate with them. Do you visit your dead ones, amigo?
Ambrose Bierce: No, but sometimes they come to visit me.
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Connections

Referenced in Cheers: Woody Interruptus (1990) See more »

User Reviews

 
It looks nice...but that's all...
8 March 2010 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

The idea for this film isn't bad. Back in 1913, a sickly and aging writer (Ambrose Bierce) decided to go to one of the most exciting and dangerous places on the planet--Mexico during the revolution that followed the ouster of the dictator, Porfirio Diaz. While no one knows for sure why he chose to do this, the film's contention that he was suicidal and wanted to "go out with a bang" seems quite reasonable. However, exactly what happened to the man is a total mystery--and to this day no one knows exactly what happened to him. Contact with his simply stopped! This film seems to create a fictionalized idea of what COULD have happened to Bierce (played by Gregory Peck). However, the film did so by creating a fictionalized character of an American teacher (Jane Fonda) who gets tricked into walking into the midst of the fighting--and, naturally, slowly is won over to the side of the soldiers of Pancho Villa--though Villa himself does not appear in the film until the end. In the meantime, Fonda and Peck meet with and spend time with General Aroyo (I have no idea if he was a real person or fictionalized--I assume he was fictionalized since I found nothing on him on the internet). Aroyo is played by Jimmy Smits.

So what did I think of this film? Well, on one hand it was a lovely film. The music and cinematography worked together to make a film that was quite pleasing to the senses. The slow pacing and evocative spirit was quite nice. Plus, the three leads are all very good actors and you have to respect their talents. However, despite these factors, the film also had a lot of problems--too many to make it worth seeking out yourself. While it looked good, the film was, after a while, incredibly boring. The plot just seemed to stagnate after a while and seemed to go no where--like they never really worked out the plot completely. And, the most serious problem is that it's hard to like or relate to the characters. Just when you start to connect with them, they behave in ways that make you either hate them or wonder what the @%## motivates them. It's rare to see a movie that has characters that are more ill-defined--and excellent acting can't make up for that.

There is one final problem with the film, though most who watch it won't realize it. As a history teacher, I was well acquainted with the Mexican revolution. The various factions, frankly, were all pretty screwed up! While there were things to admire about Pancho Villa and his faction, he was also a blood-thirsty bandit as well as reformer--provided HE was the one doing all the reforms. As for the alternatives, they weren't any better. The ideas of land reform and democracy were wonderful--too bad no one leading any of the factions really did anything to actually improve the lot for the average Mexican! A lot of people died, but essentially the country wasn't much better off when all was said and done. So, in a war when there are no clear "good guys", who do you care about in this film?!

As for Miss Fonda and Mr. Peck, they both have been long-time leftists--and very pro-revolution. I strongly suspect that this is why they made this film. I am all in favor of revolution when it means getting rid of evil, but like the Beatles song "Revolution", such movements need to have more to them than just a desire to change things. I wish in hindsight they'd chosen a more productive and life-changing revolution to dramatize--such as the "Velvet Revolution" Czechsolovakia or the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Just my two cents worth.


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Details

Country:

USA | Mexico

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

6 October 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Old Gringo See more »

Filming Locations:

Bavispe, Sonora, Mexico See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$34,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,151,749, 9 October 1989

Gross USA:

$3,574,256

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,574,256
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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