Back to Movies Index
  Classic Mexican Movie Collection  
  These reviews and info are from the IMDb Web Site

These are the American Hollywood movies with mostly the OLD Hollywood feel
A few are great and others just intertainment

-> Internet Internet Movie Database - IMDb <-




The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Plot Summary: Dobbs and Curtin meet up in Mexico, and go to work for a contractor, Pat McCormick, who takes them away to remote site and tells them they will be paid when the job is finished. When they are finished, they return to town to find McCormick to get their wages. McCormick gives them a few dollars, and says he'll just go to the bank and pick up the payroll for them. Dobbs and Curtin then meet up with an old prospector, who claims the hills are still full of gold, and if they can get the cash, he'll go with them. They eventually get the cash from McCormick after a little "persuasion", and all three set off for the hills as good friends, but will they return that way ?

User Comments: John Huston's genius as a director is undeniable. From his beginning he showed an uncanny knack for getting not only excellent acting from his actors, but his movies always had a social conscience as well.

Mr. Huston loved Mexico and it shows in this film. It must have been a difficult task for him directing his own father in the movie. After all, Walter Huston was a major star on his own right. Both father and son made a great contribution, John behind the camera, Walter in front of it.

Basically the story is about men that have drifted into Mexico to escape jail, or in search of riches, as it was the case of the men that fate brings together in a Tampico shelter. Dobbs, Howard and Curtin start out as partners searching for gold in the Sierra Madre. They find it, but as luck will have it, none of them will live to be rich from what they find in that remote place.

In the most ironic of film endings, this one will be a classic. After the trio finds gold, greed sets in. Friendship turns sour and the three friends become enemies. When the bandits finally catch up with an exhausted Dobbs, trying to go north, they beat him up and discover some sacks full of sand....

Humphrey Bogart as Dobbs is excellent. Of course, Walter Huston made the best out of Howard, the clever old man who has seen a lot in his life. He is the only one that discovers a happiness living the simple life among the friendly Mexicans that welcome him into their community. Finally, Tim Holt, as Curtin is perfectly cast as an honest man who has gone into the adventure without any expectations.

The final sequence of Howard and the peasants riding their horses into the 'yellow dust' is amazing, as it it incredible. In retrospect, it seems to be telling us that sometimes dreams of becoming rich the easy way will not be sustained, but honest work will be more rewarding.

  Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)

Plot Summary:  A family scandal causes a wealthy and powerful Mexican rancher to make the pronouncement--'Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia!' Two of the bounty-hunters thus dispatched encounter a local piano-player in their hunt for information. The piano-player does a little investigating on his own and finds out that his girlfriend knows of Garcia's death and last resting place. Thinking that he can make some easy money and gain financial security for he and his (now) fiancée, they set off on this goal. Of course, this quest only brings him untold misery, in the form of trademark Peckinpah violence.

BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA is another great hard-boiled action masterpiece from Sam Peckinpah (THE WILD BUNCH). Like most of his films, this one has cult status while it ought to be hailed as the classic it is. It features generous helpings of Peckinpah's famous slow motion gun fights and has great lines like "you guys are definitely on my sh*t list!" I don't know how that sounds to you, but for me it was irresistible.

Warren Oats (BADLANDS) stars as the piano player hired to retrieve the head (of Alfredo Garcia), unaware that he'll have competition. He knows he's working for the bad guys, but doesn't care because he needs the money. He sets out with his girlfriend and things don't exactly go as planned.

The film also features a cameo by Kris Kristofferson (A STAR IS BORN) is a biker. It is one of the many great scenes in this movie. Another has Oats transporting Garcia's not-so-fresh head, talking to it as he goes.

Many think the movie is over the top or just plain bad, but they're wrong. This movie has guts and emotional intensity. There's a good amount of both action and drama, and they both work.

If you like Peckinpah, action, or movies centering on severed head, BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA is for you!

Breakout (1975)

Plot Outline: A bush pilot is hired for $250,000 to go to Mexico to free an innocent prisoner

User Comments: Easily One of Bronson's Best

"Breakout" is easily one of Charles Bronson's best starring vehicles. For the most part his early 70's films fell into two categories: either junky (Violent City) or pretentious (The Mechanic). The first Death Wish film was thought-provoking, but marred by sickeningly graphic and misogynist violence; the sequels had the violence with none of the art. His late-70s films were quickie garbage (Death Hunt, Love and Bullets). His 80's films featured a sickly prurient violence level and a sleepwalking star.

But Bronson did have quite a string of quality films in the mid-70s: "Breakheart Pass (1974)," "Hard Times" (1975), "Mr. Majestic" (1974), "From Noon Til Three" (1976), and "Telefon" (1977)were all quality films in which Bronson's star quality, charisma, and acting ability was able to shine through.

The best of Bronson's mid-70s output in my opinion, however, is Tom Gries' "Breakout." The story has drama, humor, and tremendous forward momentum, the cast is superior (Robert Duvall, Randy Quaid, John Huston, and the always-underrated Jill Ireland). Most importantly, Charles Bronson breaks out of his silent-and-stony persona and creates a character that has depth, humour, and humanity as well as toughness.

Those who complain that this film has little action have obviously not seen many of Bronson's films. Very few of them are actually what could be called "action movies". For the most part they were melodramas with some gunplay, the occasional fight, and a maybe car chase near the end. "Breakout" is actually as much or more of an action film than most of Bronson's others. I think that most folks who mistakenly lament the lack of "action" in this film compared to his others are confusing "action" with sick, perverse violence. Look at "Death Wish" for instance: Bronson shoots some guys. That's the extent of the action, if you exclude the graphic rape scene near the beginning. He points a gun and shoots. He rarely runs. There's never a car chase. It's a melodrama, not an action film. `Breakout' has a helicopter escape, a fistfight on a dark runway as a twin-prop plane approaches at breakneck speed, and an attitude that make it more of an action film.

So "Breakout" doesn't have graphic torture, or rape, or someone getting sodomized with a nightstick. I'll settle for a great story, fine acting, cool action, and interesting characters.



100 Rifles (1969)

Plot Summary:  Reynolds plays Yaqui Joe, an Indian who robs a bank in order to buy guns for his people who are being savagely repressed by the government. Set in turn of the century Mexico, it tells the story of his flight into Mexico and his pursuit by an American lawman. They eventually become allies and team up with Welch to take up the cause of the Indians.

User Comments: Rickety spaghetti western with cartoonish violence and all the standard clichés

Jim Brown isn't bad as a sheriff who chases bank robber Burt Reynolds to Mexico, where both are captured by the vicious Mexican Army, but Raquel Welch is surprisingly underused as a guerrilla fighter. All the clichéd western-genre moments you can think of are on display here: the cliff-side brawl, the train-wreck, the dirt-town shoot-out, the wild drunken party, the surprise fire, and on and on. Welch is quite lovely but way over-the-top while warming up to manly-but-wooden Brown (when she tells him, "I am your woman", she's suddenly so serious you can almost believe it); she's also very sexy showering under a water-tower (as a ruse to get a train to stop), but 80% of the picture is given over to the men, and their squabbles are completely routine and dull. "100 Rifles" could use less rifles and more human interaction. ** from ****



Old Gringo (1989)

Plot Summary: When school teacher Harriet Winslow (Jane Fonda) goes to Mexico to teach, she is kidnapped by Gen. Tomas Arroyo (Jimmy Smits) & his revolutionaries. An aging American, Ambrose "Old Gringo" Bierce (Gregory Peck) also in Mexico, befriends Gen. Arroyo & 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 single mindedly determined to fulfill his dying wish.

User Comments:  Without stretching the point, it may be said the critical reaction to Old Gringo ranged from flat incomprehension (Roger Ebert) to outright dementia (Hal Hinson). You will observe that the major problem is the representation of a greatly beloved and influential writer. Take notice, then, how the problem is addressed in Old Gringo, by a procession of scrims founded on Giù La Testa, which is itself significantly modeled on Lawrence Of Arabia. The loose affiliation with the Leone school allows for erudition as a hallmark of its expressiveness, and so you have the city of Chihuahua in 1913 greatly resembling Gene Kelly's New York in Hello, Dolly!, as well as the city in Leone's film. Puenzo's informative touches are all at one remove at least, such as the sunset effect through the French windows of the captured palace in the great carouse, which is a technical approach to certain scenes in The Sound Of Music, or the romantic dance in the mirrored anteroom, with its suggestion of The Prince And The Showgirl. The overwhelming strangeness of this fictional account of Bierce in Mexico ultimately evokes him as much as anything else.

There is one exterior in Beloved Infidel that has Gregory Peck as F. Scott Fitzgerald walking cannily through a movie studio, and he really resembles Fitzgerald for a moment, something actors can do somehow, and he does it again in The Snows Of Kilimanjaro, a brief Hemingway grin, merely. Peck really gets to the business of representing Bierce and tapping the deep vein of his sardonic vision in his last scenes as the author's corpse. The surprising truth is that the film seems to have been generated for the sole purpose of satisfying the mind about Bierce's disappearance.

Jane Fonda plays a mirror image to this, the Innocent Abroad. Old Gringo is one of Peck's masterful creations, not only vast enough to encompass one of Fonda's remarkable inventions but structurally dependent on it.


  The Treasure of Pancho Villa (1955)

Plot Outline: In 1913, an American soldier of fortune joins the ranks of Mexican patriot Pancho Villa.

User Comments:  Western saga built around the Mexican Revolution. In this off-beat tale, Calhoun is an American mercenary that hires himself and his machine gun out to Villas band of revolutionary rebels. There's plenty of action, as the old west meets modern times. Story moves at a nice pace and the cast featuring Calhoun, Roland, and a pre-cellulite Winters make this a worthwhile view


  The Wonderful Country (1959)

Plot Summary:   Having fled to Mexico from the U.S. many years ago for killing his father's murderer, Martin Brady travels to Texas to broker an arms deal for his Mexican boss, strongman Governor Cipriano Castro. Brady breaks a leg and while recuperating in Texas the gun shipment is stolen. Complicating matters further the wife of local army major Colton has designs on him, and the local Texas Ranger captain makes him a generous offer to come back to the states and join his outfit. After killing a man in self defense, Brady slips back over the border and confronts Castro who is not only unhappy that Brady has lost his gun shipment but is about to join forces with Colton to battle the local raiding Apache Indians.

User Comments: nice elegiac western .... just caught this thoughtful film on TV again.

Not a particular Mitchum fan, but here he is gives a wonderful world weary performance as the "outside man" gradually learning kindness and companionship and friendship against the odds of his upbringing and circumstances and the hand that fate has dealt him.  Not a particular shoot em up type western but a film about belonging and extricating yourself from a bad lot when down a blind alley. Just watch as he reacts to the little kindnesses as he recovers from his injury or the final scene with his beloved horse, lovely low key acting. Beautiful photography too. Passes a lazy afternoon very nicely

  The Appaloosa (1966)

Plot Outline: Man tries to recover a horse stolen from him by a Mexican bandit.

User Comments: Absolutely ... I also saw this when I was in my "tender" years(pre 24). It made a lasting impression on me. A man who was a looser came back to his roots to not only pay homage to them but too use them to make something of what he had left of his existence. There were the vultures that were more than ready to pick the meat off his flesh. With his guard let down he was humiliated. The worst thing in the world: To be humiliated. He tried to "make amends." Not enough. His previous life came into play. Note the hat that he wore at the beginning of the movie. Still it was not enough. His anger was slow to arise. Even at the last of the movie the angst was subdued. He called gunfire justice only with the utmost reluctance. This was the ultimate strength of the movie.  It truly was one of Brando's finest!


Hold Back the Dawn (1941)

Plot Outline: Stopped in Mexico by U.S. Immigration, Georges Iscovescu hopes to get into the country by marrying a citizen. A Romanian gigolo marries a naive American schoolteacher in Mexico so he can legally enter the United States. Complications arise as he discovers he is falling in love with her.

Told in flashback from a preface in which the main character visits Paramount to sell his story! Romanian-French gigolo Georges Iscovescu wishes to enter the USA. Stopped in Mexico by the quota system, he decides to marry an American, then desert her and join his old partner Anita, who's done likewise. But after sweeping teacher Emmy Brown off her feet, he finds her so sweet that love and jealousy endanger his plans.

User Comments: They Don't Make 'em like this any more! It is a sad reflection that many of the movies made so long ago still compare brilliantly with the best of today. "Hold Back the Dawn" is one of those - superbly put together by Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett, and with some of the finest acting of 1941. Outstanding are Charles Boyer, in what I feel is his best acting, and Olivia de Havilland who apparently had to go to Paramount to be appreciated (her two Oscar films were made there, and she was nominated also for this one!) is a standout. Paulette Goddard in a role almost written for her was very good, and the supporting cast was excellent. Migrants trying to get into the United States has always been a hot topic, but here it is treated sympathetically in a very informative way. I have to say the ending was not well done, and one gets the feeling all was not well somewhere


  Ride the Pink Horse (1947)

Plot Summary: In the border town of San Pablo, preparing for an annual 'Mexican Fiesta,' arrives Gagin: tough, mysterious and laconic. His mission: to find the equally mysterious Frank Hugo, evidently for revenge; or is it blackmail? FBI agent Retz is also after the elusive Hugo. Everyone in town is enigmatic, especially Pila, a mystical teenager who follows Gagin around and has premonitions of his death. Also involved are a classic femme fatale and an antique carousel with a pink horse....

User Comments: Definite Cult Item

Not quite sure what to make of this one, but definitely interesting. One is never certain if its strangeness is due to inexperience on the part of the film-makers, or if it truly is an unambiguous artistic choice. The director and star, Robert Montgomery, was very much a creature of 1930's pre-war Hollywood and the film seems to be an unconscious attempt to transplant pre-war film-making sensibilities into the decidedly post-war genre of Film-Noir, with all of its fatalism, disillusionment and complications. It's as if Montgomery is an alien from the 30's exploring a strange, post-war Noir world; rejoicing and experimenting in this permissive new environment, but ever aware that he is not a native. (Though it's highly unlikely this idea ever occurred to him in such a concrete way, as this genre was not identified as such until French critics of the 1960's uncovered a new pattern in American films dealing with crime.)

There's much here that I, quite frankly, didn't understand. You never really get a handle on any of the characters or what their true motivations are; they're all tantalizingly enigmatic, opaque, but that is admittedly much of the joy of the picture. Everyone seems to be suffering from some kind of guilt that they just don't seem quite able to articulate, much less expiate, so they keep muddling along hoping that they'll stumble across an answer or justification for their sins. The villain of the piece, Fred Clark, is odd. He doesn't just want to trick Montgomery out of the money he's blackmailing him for, he wants to shame him for not being smart and demanding more. Montgomery is mighty odd as well, with some kind of a stubborn, indecipherable personal code of honor; sort of a dumbed down Sam Spade. He's trying to carve out some little island of corruption just for himself, stiff-arming both sides of the law in the process. Most peculiar is the little peasant girl played by Wanda Hendrix. She is instantly devoted to Montgomery, lovingly helps him out of a couple jams but at the end after they say goodbye, she makes some little speech to her friends in Spanish (w.o. subtitles) that gives the impression she was never as innocent as she let on. But what did she gain? And Art Smith (a good crafty little character actor who keeps turning up and making an impression in a lot of films I've been seeing like "Brute Force", "The Next Voice You Hear" and "In A Lonely Place") is an FBI agent who is more like Montgomery's guardian angel. He is almost God-like in how he can pinpoint the exact motivation behind Montgomery's every move and thought.

All these actors are fine, but Thomas Gomez steals every scene he's in as the deceptively heroic operator of the merry-go-round. He is involved in the film's most brutal and poignant scene, as he is beat up by a couple of Clark's thugs (as the children watch captively on the spinning carousel) for refusing to reveal his friend Montgomery's whereabouts. And I love his great line when Montgomery stumbles back for help after getting stabbed in a fight. He shrugs wearily and says "when you're young everyone sticks knife in you."

I couldn't for the life of me figure out why the movie would be called "Ride the Pink Horse", but I like the other reviewer's theory that it has to do with the arbitrary nature of life itself. A definite cult item.
  Viva Zapata! (1952)

Plot Outline: The story of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, who led a rebellion against the corrupt, oppressive dictatorship of president Porfirio Diaz in the early 20th century.

User Comments: MY Favorite Movie This was Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn at their best ---the entire supporting cast was superb.  Steinbeck hadn't written anything as powerful as this since he did his tale of the Okies during the depression. Zapata is truly one of the great heroes of the 20th century, and Brando captured this along with the frustration of trying to do the right thing and yet being hamstrung by the bureaucrats who manage to survive every change in government, no matter which way in turns. The final scene in the movie leaves Zapata as a legend --- did he die, or does he still live to help the millions of peons in Mexico.  Elia Kazan's direction was terrific

  Juarez (1939)

Plot Summary: The newly named emperor Maximilian and his wife Carlotta arrive in Mexico to face popular sentiment favoring Benito Juarez and democracy. He tries to appease the Mexicans but fails. Abraham Lincoln is supporting Juarez and asks the French to withdraw support for Maximilian. Carlotta goes to France to plead with Napoleon, to no avail.

User Comments: Not the worst, but not the best. Paul Muni gives one of his better performances here, and the film is fairly engrossing, but Bette Davis is totally wrong for the role. Not a particularly good actress, her limited talents do not extend far enough to bring her role to life. She was much more convincing in trash like Beyond the Forest. Luise Rainer would have done much better here.

  They Came to Cordura (1959)

Plot Summary: After a cavalry charge during the 1916 U.S. "war against Poncho Villa," un-heroic awards officer Tom Thorn (who is obsessed with the nature of courage) recommends 4 men for the Medal of Honor. He is ordered back to Cordura with them...and prisoner Adelaide Geary, gringo who sheltered the enemy. On the arduous journey, Thorn's heroes show a different face, and Thorn may have one last chance to prove he's no coward.

User Comments: Imperfect, overlong and superficially wordy but still an interesting story.

Angered by the US President Wilson's increasing support the rising Mexican political leader General Carranaza, the former US darling Francisco Villa sends his group of rebels to raid a town in New Mexico before coming back over the border. Enraged by the audacity of the man, Wilson orders his troops across the border to catch and/or kill Villa. Part of the group he sends is Major Thomas Thorn, who has been given the job of assessing the men for possible awards – a comfortable job given to him by Colonel Rogers, a friend of his father. Fascinated by the nature of heroes, Thorn finds himself given command of a small group of them when he refuses to put Rogers forward for a citation. Thorn is keen to get to know more of the men but, with a captured woman in tow, the men are not as simple as their proposed medals would suggest.

Despite pretty much ignoring the interesting history that serves as a backdrop to this film, this is actually still quite an interesting film that was a lot rawer than I expected it to be, given the period in which it was made. In the early stages it was too basic and I worried that the whole thing would be as clunky as Thorn's early questioning of some of his "heroes", but gradually it got better as it went on and simple lines such as hero and coward were eroded away. This is not to say it is brilliant because it most certainly is not but it is certainly interesting for what it tries to do. It doesn't help that the script really labors the surface but lacks the ability to go significantly deep to really make an impact. However even with this, it was still interesting enough to hold me and I did enjoy the solid if simplistic moral debate that it delivered.

Rossen and his cinematography do great work with the wide-open landscapes but the former must also carry the can for not bringing more emotion out of the script consistently. As a result the cast do well without really excelling – with nobody guiding them deeper, this is really what I could have expected. Cooper is as solid as usual with what I suppose was a brave role for him to take. He deals with it well but perhaps wasn't good enough to really convince in layers – although he is superficially good enough. Hayworth doesn't have that great a character and her delivery occasionally gets a bit too over-the-top when asked to deliver more emotionally charged material, she has impact but I was looking for more pain and fear. The support cast work well with what they have been given to do. Conte, Heflin, Keith and Hunter are among those giving solid turns in support of Cooper and the raw story.

Overall then this is not a great film but it is an interesting one. Despite being over 45 years old it is surprising raw and willing to turn away from the simple lines of courageous and cowardly towards something that is much realer and well conceived. It doesn't go deep enough but it is strong on the surface – could easily have been tighter and dropped 20-30 minutes from the running time but is still worth a look for what it does do well.
  Down Mexico Way (1941)

Plot Summary:  After the bad guys swindle the good folk of Sage City, Gene and Frog chase them to Mexico where they are now trying to rob a rich Mexican ranchero.

User Comments: One of the best Autrey's, & still quite silly.   Usually limit my B westerns comments to Hopalong Cassidy films, but I watched this one right after I watched "Wide Open Town" (which was not a great Hoppy film, but still far superior to this film). None of the B westerns are known for a high degree of realism, but a certain degree of realism could have been easily achieved in this film (as well as other Autrey films, Roy Rogers films, etc.) without hurting the plot or the enjoyment of the movie. In one scene, Gene asks the Mexican police (who are riding motorcycles) how he could catch up with the baddies, who have a head-start in a car. The police tell him about a shortcut through the hills. Gene then takes off aboard Champion, leading the police in the chase! He doesn't even know exactly where the shortcut is, yet he (on a horse no less), outdistances police who are familiar with the shortcut & are riding motorcycles, amazing! He ends up jumping from a 20 foot high boulder into a car speeding along a road at 40 miles per hour, & of course lands right in the back seat without so much as a bump or a scratch. Superman has no advantages over this cowboy! When I was a kid, I just knew I liked Hoppy better than Gene or Roy, but couldn't explain why. Ironically, despite the lack of realism, this is probably the best Gene Autrey film I've seen, so if Gene's a favorite of yours, this is a relatively good one. I rate it 5/10

  Rough Riders' Round-up (1939)

Plot Summary:  When Roy, Rusty, and Tommy join the Border Patrol, Tommy gets killed in a saloon fight by Arizona Jack. Suspended from duty, Roy and Rusty cross the border looking for the killer. Arizona Jack and mining engineer Lanning are running a gold smuggling racket and when Roy and Rusty find Arizona's hideout, his gang captures them and they are slated to be killed.

User Comments: One of the few opportunities to hear Roy yodel.  This action-packed Roy Rogers oater is filled with chases, fisticuffs, and shoot-outs with little music to slow it down. Roy does sing a couple of songs, one when serenading Dorothy Blair (Mary Hart) while she tells him all she knows about the situation, the other in the Catina near the beginning of the film. Roy was one of the best of the singing cowboys. He helped start the Sons of the Pioneers. The only other singing cowboy that could out sing Roy was Tex Ritter. Not everyone knows that Roy was one of the best yodelers in show business. Yodeling is no longer a lost art. Pop singer Jewel and country singer Suzy Bogguss do some yodeling every now and again. Yodeling reached its peak in the entertainment industry during the 1920's with the blue yodeler Jimmie Rodgers. It began tapering off in the 1930's. In the Catina number, Roy ends the song by letting go some of the best yodeling you're likely to hear on the big screen. This is an added treat for his many fans.

Roy's comical sidekick this outing is Raymond Hatton with his mule Dinah. Hatton was a dedicated actor but not much in the way of comedy. He looked and talked funny but his humor was lame. Eddie Acuff appears at the beginning of the movie to help with the clowning but is taken out by the bad guys early on. Gabby Hayes was sorely needed.

Roy's early movies sometimes centered on historical events and real-life characters such as Jesse James and Billy the Kid. This early Roy Rogers western deals with Theodore Roosevelt's band of cowboys and misfits known as the Rough Riders who won world-wide fame during the Spanish American War in 1898. "Rough Riders' Round-Up" takes place at the turn of the 20th century when a troupe of Rough Riders led by Roy are searching for more adventure this time as border guards along the Mexican border. Roy pulls the first punch when a William Jennings Bryan supporter is bad-mouthing Roosevelt. It is not clear what election is being touted but for the time frame it would have to be when Roosevelt was running for Vice-President with William McKinley. The movie leads one to believe that Roosevelt is running for President against Bryan even though that is not specified. Why the film is called "Rough Riders' Round-up" is unclear. I failed to see any cattle in the movie to round-up.

As border guards, the Rough Riders remnants are ordered to find outlaw Arizona Jack. Arizona Jack and his gang steal gold, kidnap Dorothy Blair, and hide out across the border. The rest of the show involves rescuing Dorothy and bringing Arizona Jack and his henchmen to justice.

Roy is just beginning his career in the movies and so he and the producers are still working on his image that would eventually lead to his moniker "King of the Cowboys." The present generation of movie goers finds it difficult to comprehend just how popular Roy was with the Saturday matinee crowd. I remember seeing westerns at a theater in my hometown in northern Arkansas in the early 1950's. When the previews of coming attractions flitted on the screen and Tim Holt or other popular six-gun heroes were shown the theater remained calm. But when Roy Rogers was advertised the whole movie house went crazy. The kids would scream, yell, throw popcorn, and cause a quiet riot. The manager would flip the lights on and off a few times, send ushers up and down the aisles, and sometimes even stop the show to restore order. That's how popular Roy was in those days.

There are a few surprises in the cast. Look for future western star and husband of Dinah Shore, George Montgomery, in a bit part as a telegrapher. Duncan Renaldo, the future Cisco Kid, plays the chief Mexican police official. Glenn Strange, who would later play the Frankenstien monster in films after Boris Karloff tired of the role, can be seen in a small part. There is an array of henchmen from Republic's gallery of outlaws including Budd Osborne and George Chesebro. The viewer may not recognize the names but will know all the familiar faces.

Director Joseph Kane who would go on to direct many a television western in that medium's early years does a routine but adequate job behind the camera. There is a major criticism of his methods. Why did he shoot most of the action sequences at night? Budget perhaps. At times it's hard to see some of the action shots because of the darkness. Otherwise, a good introduction to Roy Rogers films for the uninitiated. For the fans: Get ready for some straight shooting.


  Blood and Sand (1941) - OK not Mexico

Plot Summary: Bullfighter Juan Gallardo falls for socialite Dona Sol, turning from the faithful Carmen who nevertheless stands by her man as he continues to face real danger in the bullring.

Blood and Sand' based on the novel by Ibanez and presented by 20th Century-Fox is a masterpiece of old style Hollywood filmmaking. Director Rouben Mamoulian pulls out all the stops to present this Technicolor flushed romantic story of Juan Gallardo who is portrayed by the impossibly beautiful Tyrone Power. Juan grows from a poor boy dreaming of glory in the bullrings of Spain to the epitome of arrogance and ignorant of the cost to his soul of his fame. The three principals of the story are, Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell as his childhood sweetheart Carmen, and Rita Hayworth as the seductive and hollow Dona Sol. Tyrone Power presents us with a marvelous, energetic portrait of a young, brash and over confident Juan. His first close-up bursts the edges of the screen and burns in the colors of Goya. Tyrone Power was made for the movies and cinematographers Ernest Palmer and Ray Rennahan film him with as much care as they do the two female leads. Thus this overpoweringly beautiful close-up sucks the viewer into the world of Juan and one is swept away by his charm and bravado. Mr. Power's performance is almost overshadowed at first by his physical presence but as the story progresses his talent as a film actor takes over and sustains the viewer to the end.

Linda Darnell, a great beauty of the movies and by her own admission, not much of an actress, turns in a very good performance as Juan's discarded wife Carmen. I do not agree with Miss Darnell's opinion of her talents. One only has to look at `Letter to Three Wives' to see what an accomplished screen actress she was. And here too she takes the thankless roll of Carmen and makes one care about the poor girl. Then we have Rita Hayworth who here in `Blood and Sand' sets the standard for the great-lost beauties of the silver screen. Her Dona Sol is everything we hope for in the empty shell of a femme fatal. It is said of her, at one point in the film by a newspaper critic of bullfighting, as he points to the ring: `Gentleman, if this is death in the afternoon, then she is death in the evening.' And Miss Hayworth lives up to every inch of his description in this her breakout performance.

In the garden scene where she performs the `Toro!' seduction and sings to her victim Juan, she is utterly captivating and irresistible in her Travis Banton gown and cascading titian hair. Here we see the birth of Rita Hayworth and the demise of Rita Cansino. Also worth mentioning are Anthony Quinn as one of Juan's boyhood friends, Manola De Palma and the wonderful silent star Alla Nazemova who is heart breaking as Juan's mother. The music by the masterful Alfred Newman sets the tone and emotion of the film. Lush and full of the sounds of Spain it is one of his best.

Darryl Zanuck believed that story was everything in film. Without a good story you had nothing to build a film on. In `Blood and Sand' the head of Fox proves his point and gives us a great movie presented in the grand style of Hollywood's golden age.

  The Brave One (1957)
User Comments:  The Brave One was beautifully crafted in 1957 by blacklisted author Robert Rich and immediately established itself as a superb classic. The tale is of a small Mexican boy and his enduring love for his courageous pet bull. Set in Mexico, a boy discovers a cow has been killed after delivering and orphaning a male offspring. Naming the calf Gitano, The boy become it's friend and caretaker. Realizing the boy's loneliness, the parents encourage the bond, but fail to emphasis the eventual fate of the animal. Throughout the Calf's life the boy's love inexorably growing unaware of his parent's financial responsibility to the bull's true owner. By the time the animal has grown to market size and becomes a cash commodity, the boy's parents are torn between their son's love and their duty to the Patrone. Using subterfuge, the parents separate the two. Returning from a fool's errand, the boy discovers his best friend and lifetime companion has been sold for the purpose of bull fighting and its eventual destruction. Despite the frantic warnings of his parents that it's too late to save the animal, the small boy adroitly played by Michel Rey, sets off to save his courageous friend from certain death. The boy visits everyone from the Patrone to the Governor of Mexico in a vain attempt to alter the fate of his pet. The film culminates with the boy's magnificent bravery before an arena filled with spectators. True love for any animal has never had a more poignant test of love and courage. For any viewer with a human heart, this tear-wrenching film will leave you joyfully weeping. ****
  Touch of Evil (1958)

Plot Outline:  An automobile is blown up as it crosses the Mexican border into the United States. Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston), a high ranking Mexican narcotics official on honeymoon with his bride Susie (Janet Leigh) is drawn into the investigation because a Mexican national has been accused of the crime. The figurative and physical presence of Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) as the 330 pound sheriff looms all over. Quinlan is a fanatic where "justice" is concerned, even if obtaining it involves planting evidence. Quinlan's reputation for law and order enables him to bend the law without question until Vargas confronts him. From that point on, it's a battle of wits between the two that, with an accelerating pace, rushes to a thrilling climax.

I saw "Touch of Evil" at the Film Forum in New York in its 111-minute form as Welles originally intentioned and I must say, it is a more of a masterpiece than it ever was. I would even go so far as to declare it as the film of 1998 but since it is from a different era, I'll leave it to "Happiness" to claim that title. "Touch of Evil" is beyond perfection - it is the essence of film noir and contains the air of desperation as evoked in another great film, "Detour." The porcine Welles and the rest of the cast are super, but the filmmaking, the camera angles, the famous 31/2 minute opening shot (now preserved with the removal of its title credits), the crisp, shadowy black-and-white cinematography, and so on have become the hallmarks of film history for pulp/detective thrillers ever since. Marlene Dietrich's line to Welles about how his future is all used up is prophetic of Welles's own career as a director. It's said that many saw this as his last achievement when we all know that his greatness extended beyond to "The Trial" and "F For Fake," among a couple of others. "Touch of Evil" is Welles's masterpiece - dark, disturbing subject matter now appropriately refined to his original intentions.


  Vera Cruz (1954)

Plot Summary:   Ben Trane and Joe Erin, two rival soldiers of fortune who team to fight for the highest bidder. The two men come to loggerheads when Trane's sweetheart Nina begs them to fight on the side of the rebels, while the wealthy Marquis de Labodere implores them to offer their services to Emperor Maximillian. Though they still haven't taken sides, Trane and Erin agree to escort the aristocratic Countess Marie Duvarre through hostile territory to Vera Cruz. It soon develops that the Countess is transporting a gold shipment to the Emperor's armies. Hardly the most patriotic of souls, she offers to split the gold with Trane and Erin, but they steal it for themselves instead. It takes a while (and several bloody armed confrontations) before the two protagonists do The Right Thing.

One of the most influential westerns of all time, Vera Cruz depicts a Mexico rarely seen on the screen. The exchange of harsh words and quips between the top billed stars, Gary Cooper & Burt Lancaster throughout the movie is excellent. Actors like Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine, Cesar Romero and Sara Montiel, at the beginning of their career was a solid support to the production. Excellent photography, taking in consideration the film is 50 years old. Excellent soundtrack, beautiful wardrobe and the hundreds of extras in a story that has all the ingredients to keep the viewers attention, make this movie one of the best crafted westerns.

  Ten Blocks on the Camino Real (1966) (TV)
This is not a normal play with a plot and a story like other plays by Tennessee Williams. Instead it is a variation on Dante's Inferno. It is stark and strange and very surreal.

If you are expecting something along the lines of The Glass Menagerie or Streetcar Named Desire, you will be disappointed. It does not have the profound dialog of those plays and the characters are more symbolic rather than being fleshed out as they are in a standard format play.

If you are looking for something real different, you might like this.