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Author Topic: Zapata Westerns  (Read 45527 times)
cigar joe
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« on: December 31, 2004, 06:48:35 AM »

These films should really be judged in a different Sub Genre amongst only themselves. There are a number of board members who dislike the Zapata''s.

I''ve seen enough of them now (except Duck You Sucker)to be able to get a feel for them what I lack is, besides Leone''s film, is recent views of the AW equivalents Villa Rides, Pancho Villa, Viva Villa, and some others.

I''ll try and do something with this when I can.

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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2004, 09:01:30 AM »

Agreed, I don''t really put them in the same category as ordinary SWs at all. I think they seem to have a higher "hit rate" than the average spaghetti though. Bullet for the General, Professional Gun and Companeros are among the best films of the SW boom.

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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2004, 10:12:13 AM »

Yea doing a bit of research and I think that the AW''s to view for a comprehensive overlook are the following:

Viva Villa (1934) Wallace Beery Fay Wray & Leo Carillo, I remember this one Berry is a great actor, allways enjoyed him this was the first major Hollywood treatment of the Mex Rev.

Viva Zapata (1952) Marlon Brando & Anthony Quinn

Villa Rides (1968) (Get a lod of this cast!) Yul Brynner, Robert Mitchum, Charles Bronson, John Ireland, Jill Ireland, Herbot Lom, Frank Wolff, Frenando Rey, and with the screen play by Sam Peckinpah, and Chinatown''s Robert Towne.

100 Rifles (1969) Jim Brown, Bert Reynolds, Raquel Welch, Frenando Lamas, Eric Braden, and Aldo Sambrell.

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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2005, 07:52:08 AM »

I caught 100 Rifles on AMC a couple of weeks ago. I didn''t find it to be very impressive. I was hoping for better. Maybe I need to see it again though.

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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2005, 09:52:10 AM »

100 Rifles--I''m not sure if the AMC version was cut or not. I''ll have to check. Supposed to be 110 minutes I suspect some of Raquel''s  shower scene was trimmed Grin. Its not a serious film but not pure crap either, some of the action sequences were good as well as the town set and the train wreck, love those trains, lol.

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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2005, 12:10:00 PM »

 

Villa Rides (1968) (Get a lod of this cast!) Yul Brynner, Robert Mitchum, Charles Bronson, John Ireland, Jill Ireland, Herbot Lom, Frank Wolff, Frenando Rey, and with the screen play by Sam Peckinpah, and Chinatown''''s Robert Towne.

Caught the second half of Villa Rides once. Actually it took me years to find out what it was called. (No Internet at the time) Had a big GBU like bridge sequence in it, with Michum in a bombing bi-plane, who looked suspiciously like Indiana Jones (Panama, Brown Leather Flyin  Jacket, Khaki Pants).. . .or is that the other way around.  Wink

Remember the Bronson charactor havin a amusing one liner catchphrase, when complainng about the food cook-up by the rebel army chief, Before chuckin the fowl concoction out of the window. Several times throught the movie Grin

Love to see it again just for the cast.. alot more spaghetti staples than id known at the time.

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« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2005, 01:49:09 PM »

Think we should have a thread dedicated to the great "Zapata Westerns".

I'm going to collect a few outstanding examples and review them here.

Perhaps the touchstone grand-daddy of them all was MGM's 1934 "Viva Villa" (Black & White) starring Wallace Beery, directed by Jack Conway & Howard Hawks. Its a fictionalized account of Pancho Villa's life, but it does hit some of the major plot points of the real life Villa, however it doesn't even mention Villa's invasion and bank robbery of Columbus, New Mexico and the subsequent unsuccessfull pursuit by General John Pershing into Mexico. Its shot partially in Mexico and in actuality only about 15 years after the events portrayed. This film in parts has a very SW feel to it.

A little sample from the beginning:

A decree is posted on a tree a priest reads it to the peons, their land is being taken over by the local Don, the peons ask the priest what can they do, the priest says "pray".

A boy watches his peon father get whipped to death for questioning the take over of the peons land by a wealthy Don. In a dark alley the boy stabbs the whipman in the back and scrambles up into the hills. Thirty some odd years later he rides down as badit chief Pancho Villa.

The following scene is indicative of the tone of the film.
We see a courtroom, on a bench six peon prisoners,  one is picking his nose, lol, his finger must be up to the second knuckle, lol.   

Into the courtroom enters Don Pablo he goes up to the judge and gives him a mirror and with a wink & a nod tells him to look at the back which must hold a risque' image, (signifying the decadence of the aristocracy no doubt, lol). The Judge thanks the Don and proceeds to say that we don't need to clutter up the day with a trial these men are guilty. The six are then strung up on a gallows outside.

We see a shot of peons looking at the dead men whose feet swing in the foreground, we then hear shots and cut to a bandit army overthrowing the town.  Pancho Villa rides up bandolier over one shoulder (Beery resembles the real Villa, contemporary describers of Berry have described him as looking like an overstuffed laundry bag, lol), and we get a close up of Berry as he looks at the dead men and growls "cut them down".

We cut back to the courtroom, in burst Villa's men and his right hand man Sierra (Leo Carrillo who's character is probably based on the butcher Fierro) takes a bead on Don Miguel, and shoots him as he stands huddled with the rest of the officials on the dias. Sierra then shoots down Don Pablo. Villa runs into the courtroom and yells out "Sierra, you wait!"
 
Pancho turns back towards the outside he yells "bring them in". We see peons carring the hanged men into the courtroom. Villa, "put on the bench", cut to Villa standing alongside the bodies sitting on the bench "straighten them up"

Villa looks admiringly over the dead men, he smiles then shakes his head as he turms to the officials, "now everybody shut up," he first gestures lovingly to the deadmen, then with an angry look at the officials  states "we're going to have a trial".
Judge, runs up to a railing "I'm a government official and I demand to be heard"
Pancho, "well, ah fine, you go head and talk....., there is the jury" gesturing to the deadmen.
Judge, "I was only doing my duty..."
Pancho interupts "DUTY!,"  Pancho turns and he talks to the jury, "jury, did you hear, he was just doing his duty" he chuckles.
Judge "these men were sent to me by Don Miguel for the crimes they committed."
Pancho "crimes what crimes?"
Another official hands Pancho a piece of paper saying "they are wrote out in full".
Pancho exagerates opening the paper looking at it turning it over, and showing it to the jury, he chuckles again and shrugs "sorry I ... I do not read," he hands the paper to the judge, "perhaps you should read it to the jury they have ears same as you have but..."  and his voice changes into a growl, "perhaps they DON"T HEAR SO GOOD NOW!, so read LOUD, LOUD!"
Judge, "but this is outrageous, I demand Justice, Justice!"

BANG the judge is shot in the back by Sierra.

Pancho sarcastically, "Sierra now why didn't you let him finnish," Pancho gestures to the jury, "now you spoiled the trial."
Sierra, "I do not like, it take too long."
Pancho, "Well then we'll hurry, now this is the law of Pancho Villa's court, TWO FOR ONE, understand, for every peon killed I will kill two major domos or the best that I can find".

Sierra starts to go for his gun, Pancho stops him, "one moment Sierra.." Pancho turns to the jury "any objections from the jury?" he elaborately gestures as he walks along the jury line bending toward them and  cupping his hand to his ear, straining to hear, "no?", he turns back and shrugs his shoulders to Sierra "no objections from the jury". Pancho points his thumb over his shoulder as he orders Sierra "you finnish", then Villa walks out of the frame as Sierra and his men execute the rest of the officials.

Anytime Beery is on, its a scream, just hilarious, his portrayal of Villa is as memorable and as loveable as Eli Wallach's Tuco. Beery portrayed the loveable rascal/rogue, in most of his films and its a pitty that a lot of his work is unavailable or hard to find. He should have won an oscar for this role. Another sad factor is most all of his work was in B&W, so you may catch one of his performances occasionally on cable on TMC, if you are lucky.

It has a sidestory with an American reporter Johnny Skyes (Stuart Erwin(obviously base on real American Reporter Reed)) that is also humorous in the way Villa and the reporter interact. Fay Wray makes an appearnce as a possible love interest that goes fatally wrong which culminates in a major plot point Other love interests plotss are kept to a minimum thankfully, and there is a running gag on all the women Pancho has married (one in every town and village) in order to get in the sack with them.
 
Its a typical Hollywood vehicle with a twist but its a hoot. The fact that it was a western about Villa freed it somewhat from the typical manifest destiny theme and Hollywood melodramatic moralising.

I picked this up used (release date was 1993) available on VHS on Amazon, there are more listed some of the are listed on ebay too. Good stuff


« Last Edit: September 25, 2005, 07:16:22 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2005, 05:00:57 AM »

In the cue (lineup).

Continuing on the "Zapatas" I've managed to find and order "Viva Zapata" with Marlon Brando & Anthony Quinn, and "Bandidos" with Robert Mitchum so I'll post more as things progress.

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« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2005, 04:54:48 AM »

More V V

Watched V V again last night, its almost a blueprint for the latter spaghetti zaps, it even has the main theme for "A Bullet for The General" in one sequence where the peons are singing in the bg (I think it was a real Mexican Revolutionary anthem).

The film also makes the claim that the well known song "La Cucaracha" (The Cockroach) was Villa's theme song, don't know if this is true or just fanicfull hollywood bs.

It was also a fairly big budget film for its day thousands of extras in the battle scenes. Its got the old timey, superimposed, script explanations between some of the scenes giving a bridge to some of the sequences. 

Again Beery is great as Villa, its got some good running gags between Villa and the American Reporter, & Villa and Sierra and Villa and his last wife Rosita.  Some unavoidable shmaltzy stuff between Villa and Madero, who he refers to as "the little fellow".  Villa, for all the real life take no prisoners tactics is in the end treated as a hero. Again worth checking out as an early "seed" for Spaghetti & Zapata Westerns.

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« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2005, 05:28:51 AM »

Update,
Was gone for the weekend but when I returned a DVD of "Viva Zapata" was sitting in the mail box, will have a viewing soon.  Grin

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« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2005, 09:50:06 PM »

Ok watched my DVD of "Viva Zapata" (1952) directed by Elia Kazan, screenplay by John Stienbeck, starring Marlon Brando, Anthony Quinn, Jean Peters, Joseph Wiseman.

If "Viva Villa" (1934)  was the blueprint for the "fun" Zapata Western, then the same could be said that "Viva Zapata" was the outline of the serious Zapata Western. So in these two films we have a ying/yang treatment of the MexRev.

This film is not played for any type of humor, its serious drama throughout and more indepthly character driven than the more lighthearted romp Viva Villa. You could almost sight the similar difference between GBU & OUTITW both epics but very different in tone. Both films take place during the similar time period of the MexRev during the overthrow of Diaz. While Viva Villa takes place in the north in Sonora, Viva Zapata is set in Morelos. Both films have very similar plots.

A group of peons have an audience with Diaz and explain that their corn fields have been fenced off from them and planted with cane. They have their deeds with them, Diaz says they must find their boundary stones they say they cannot access the land to find them because they will be arrested. One of the more outspoken peons is Zapata who realizes that Diaz won't help them, so he leads an issurection with his more fiery and slightly out of control brother played by Anthony Quinn. The battle scenes are well done. There is an attack on a train sequence where they load a flatcar with explosives and let bit roll into an approaching supply train. The general cinematography is good its B&W but you wish this film was shot in color. Again its far more serious than most Spaghetti Zapatas (which tend to lean towards characters that are caricatures), this film treats all subjects and relationships equally in manner, and again its dialogue driven rather than style driven.

Brando plays and looks like convincing peon, Anthony Quinn is also fantastic and even more convincing as Efumio Zapata his brother, Wiseman plays a newspaper man/political agitator who loyalty is mercurial, towards the end of the film he comes off as some kind of behind the scenes trator/manipulator. Jean Peters plays Zapata's love interest and eventual wife.

So we have two branches in the Zapata Western family tree and just a quick initial placement of the ones I've watched will look like this:

ZAPATA WESTERNS :                                    
Viva Villa :   The Mercenary ,   Companeros                  

Viva Zapata:  A Bullet for The General,  Tepepa     

         





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« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2005, 06:48:16 PM »

Ok more thoughts on Viva Zapata, thinking back there was a bit of humor, it takes place when peon Zapata is trying to win the hand of his love interest, it occurs during a sort of question and answer game that she and her gaurdians play with Brando, he answers some questions in ways that make the women "hot" and they obviously perspire and they fan themselves to cool off, it is kind of a cute little segment.

One thing I've noticed also is this film tends to seem longer than Viva Villa but its actually shorter by 2 minutes, the funnier flick just rolls along at a better pace.

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« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2005, 04:45:12 AM »

Next up Bandido:

Bandido (1956) Dir Richard Fliesher, Robert Mitchum, Gilbert Roland, Ursula Thiess, this is the first Hollywood treatment in color and that addition really adds to the genre up to this point where the previous films were shot in B&W.

This time the emphasis is not on the Mexican main figures of the MexRev but on the minor players, the revolutionary is Col. Escobar (Gilbert Roland), the "outsider" charater is played by gunrunner Wilson (Mitchum) and he is in competition with another gunnrunner Kenedy played by Zachary Scott and his wife Lisa played by Thiess. Mitchum basically plays both ends against the middle, but the story is bogged down somewhat by the love story between Wilson and Lisa Kennedy. The plot revolves around a shipment of guns and ammo and another of explosives and gasoline on two barges secreted in a lagoon.

This time the action is in a beautiful coastal area of Mexico it does have some well staged action sequences Mitchun's main armaments are grenades, he has his coat pockets (he is first seen dressed in a white suit), and a suitcase full of them, that come in handy in various situations. Roland's Escobar is played with dignity and not a caracature.

If you are a train buff there are some great shots of an attack on a  N de M ferrocarril steamengine passenger train, good stuff.

In this film you can see the first inklings of the outlines of the SW's to come. Its not as entertaining as Viva Villa  but the color cinamatography is beatiful, too bad this is a VHS non letterbox print.

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« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2005, 05:01:32 AM »

I also reread some of C. Frayling's chapter on the Zapatas and he goes into a lot of detail on Viva Zapata, and Kazan's treatment of the story, in VZ Zapata is treated las a harmless rebel a man of individual consience, against a harmful revolutionary (Fernando) so this in fact reflects the political opinion of early 1950's America. Frayling also goes into some of the contrasts between the real Zapata and the one portrayed by Brando, (apparently he was not an illiterate peasant but a litterate tenant farmer, and he also fathered bastards all over Mexico, lol, so the love interest in nthe story was also mostly bogus.

Its interesting, anyway check these out if you can.

I'll try and pick up Villa Rides and give my review of it when I can. Some also rans, a couple of other films are "the Treasure of Pancho Villa" with Rory Calhoun, and "Villa" with Brian Kieth, though I'm not inclined to go out of my way or spend a lot of $ to get a hold of. I managed to get V V, VZ, and Bandido all together for about $30.

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« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2005, 11:55:19 AM »

This little exercise is a good primer leading up to the eventual R1 release of "Duck You Sucker", which I really have never seen widescreen, (I barely remember seeing it on TV & pan & scan long ago so it will be a treat to follow this progression right up to it  Cool.

The Zapatas are such a rather small niche in the SW/AW genre that you can easily get a good handel on their development rather cheaply with the offereings available on Amazon or on eBay. Next to get will be Villa Rides.

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