In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_wieziu4bw15rhb3nt58mcbpgv3r

When Marnie Was There

It is filled with the luscious, beautiful 2D animation that we’ve come to expect from Ghibli, and if the storytelling sometimes gets a bit lethargic…

Thumb_jrz5dbcqdqtrdfxq1yhmdcqy6yd

Sunshine Superman

I found Jean Boenish’s philosophical musings less than persuasive. And I don’t think my fear of heights was the reason for my bias.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Cannes Archives
Other Articles
Far Flunger Archives

Reviews

Villa Rides

  |  

Even Robert Mitchum seems defeated by the great weight of "Villa Rides."

His voice, usually rich with a kind of drawling irony, is flat and tired. His face is weary. He wanders through his part in a white shirt with a button-down collar, just the thing for the Mexican Revolution.

Yul Brynner has grown or rented hair for the role of Pancho Villa and plays it with a certain energy. But the political implications of the Mexican Revolution are never quite brought to the surface, and what we are given instead is a pretty cut-and-dried story of Mitchum as the gunrunner and Brynner as the dashing revolutionary.

This is usually the case when Hollywood considers revolutions (and it will be interesting to see how Omar Sharif handles the title role in the upcoming film "Che!," (1969)). The political questions involved are shuffled into the background in embarrassment, and the whole war becomes a Wild West shooting match between two identical sides.

This contrast became particularly apparent to me after seeing "The Battle of Algiers," which handles the Algerian War with fierce honesty. By contrast, Hollywood's "The Lost Command" completely ignored the issues and cast Anthony Quinn as a Frenchman who wins the war despite historical fact.

"Villa Rides" is another exercise of this sort. You would think an interesting picture could be made about Pancho Villa and the Mexican Revolution, a subject most Americans know next to nothing about. But we learn nothing except that Pancho was a romantic fellow who had a mustache and liked to have people lined up three in a row and killed with one bullet. (That scene, incidentally, got a big laugh.)

Frankly, this kind of movie is beginning to get to me. You can enjoy one, maybe, or two. Or you can enjoy a particularly well done shoot-em-up. But the Loop has been filled with one action-adventure after another for the last month, and if "Villa Rides" is not the worst, it is certainly not the best. If you like to see desperadoes galloping over the ridge to attack a troop train, while Robert Mitchum lights bombs with his cigar and drops them on the Yankees, "Villa Rides" is for you. But are you sure that's what you want to see? Again?

Popular Blog Posts

Bill Murray, iPhones and Our One-Handed Species

An essay on how technology has rendered us a one-handed species.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Video games can never be art

Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to ...

My problem with "Blue Velvet"

If you want to understand David Lynch, maybe the place to start is with his paintings. He paints in a style he descri...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus