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Author Topic: Pancho Villa (1972)  (Read 6101 times)
cigar joe
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« on: January 01, 2007, 07:38:32 AM »

Well I was avoiding this film for a while, seeing as how I've heard that it was total crap, but since I had gotten a gift card for FYE I picked up the box set Rawhide Season 1, and had a little credit left on the card so when I saw this DVD marked down to $2.99 well, thats a price that I can stomache experimenting with little known films.

Pancho Villa, Dir, by Eugenio Martin, stars Telly Savalas as Pancho Villa, Clint Walker as Scotty, in the standard role of the gringo American gunrunner, Chuck Connors as clean freak nut case Col. Wilcox, Anne Francis (who played Altaria in Forbidden Planet) as Flo, and it also has Dan Van Husen and a few of the regular list of SW bit part players.

The version I picked up was released by Geneon its runtime is 92 minutes, it has no chapter stops, and no special features. When your expecting total crap your expectations are lower than whale sh*t, so I was actually pleasantly surpized that this turned out to be very watchable. Its supposed to be either humorus or a lighthearted farce rather than a slapstick comedy but with the casting problems and limits of the script it comes out as niether.  I guess we all got to remember that this was made post "Trinity is Still My Name" and the time for serious SW's and Zapatas Westerns had passed.

Three things though really stand out and they are the quality of the transfer which was widescreen and excellent, secondly, the beautiful cinematography of Alejandro Ulloa which is one of the things that really impressed me when I first saw his work on Corbucci's Companero's, his other work some of you will recognise from The Mercenary, Sonny & Jed, Cry Onion, Providence, and other great SWs and third is the almost star billing for the TRAINS!

This film is a trainlovers delight, this is one Zapata Western that really emphsizes the trains, there is some great railroad action footage, including a beginning act that has a locomotive chase, that for me anyway really compensates for the rest of the film who's biggest problem is the miscasting of Savalas as Villa. Savalas sucks basically is about the best you can say about his performance as Villa, he effects no accent whatsoever, but he is still his charming wiseguy persona and he does have some good scenes (like when he's pretending to be a corpse where he doesn't have to talk which was not much of a stretch for him) so you can suspend disbelief.

Walker is his hulking self. I think the only memnorable time I saw these two together was in "The Dirty Dozen". In this film Walker runns around dressed like a sea captain with insignia cap and blue brass buttoned watchcoat, a strange choice. Chuck Connors plays a misophobic US army Col. Wilcox, but rather than be a strong villian he comes off as more of a nut job. Flo (Anne Francis) has some scenes with her wayward husband Scotty (Walker) which were supposed to be funny but don't quite work, mostly because Walker doesn't have much range as an actor.

The town sets and the border custom station/army post look fine, you will recognize La Calahorra station, Colmenar Viejo, & Guadix.

This film is unique from other Zapatas in that it covers Villas attack on Columbus, New Mexico, in 1917, long after his glory days were past and that it emphasized his use of railroads with his "Army of The North". It does have a spectacular set piece real head on collision with two steam locomotives, similar to DYS, but without the dynamite, its cool to see real trainwrecks.  Cool Nowadays it would all be computer generated effects  Cry

The score is mostly marriachi music and fits the film well, but it does have Telly sing the ending credit tune which is a hoot, on par with LVC's turn in Captian Apache.

Any way this worth getting for $10 or lower.

 

« Last Edit: January 01, 2007, 08:44:08 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2007, 10:16:49 AM »

You know what? I bought the dvd (not the same one, of course)

http://www.dvd.it/sid/486357921/page/dett/arti/502159/nv/DVD/pancho_villa.html

10 days ago and have to watch it yet, so I'll come back at you on this. I had to shell out  5 euros though and that galls me. And I don't like trains.


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cigar joe
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2007, 04:24:36 AM »

Quote
And I don't like trains

Oh nooooooh

It does have that head on collision which is amazing to see on film, you'd think it would be more explosive  from all the Hollywood Fx's we have been conditioned too, but its really neat see what happens in an actual collison.

Well try and enjoy the Ulloa's cinematography anyway, the film is pretty devoid of any noticable diretorial style, and the casting as I mentioned was uninspired.

5 euros!, lol, did you get at least a regular plastic case? mine was in thin cardboard.

« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 04:49:06 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2007, 05:40:42 AM »

Yeah, plastic case and all. I'm halfway through it and I must say that is worth a watching, at least for the sequence of the USA invasion. But really, the Leone inspired sequence  of the fly in the mess hall makes you want to turn the tv off, doesn't it?

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cigar joe
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« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2007, 05:43:08 AM »

Its a film that almost doesn't know what it wants too be, and I think they decided its a comedy and it doesn't work  Cool

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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2007, 09:04:23 AM »

Tell you what: I mildly liked the movie. His plentiful defects rather add to its charm, I wouldn't mind watching it again. Only thing that doesn't square is Connors performance: he really doesn't know what to do (or maybe wasn't told) with his character. He is made to prepare with a confrontation with Savalas that never happens. Alsol I can't understand why Villa's name is never pronounced and Savalas character is dubbed as Concho Verdad (BTW I like Savalas. Can't understand there's nobody around like him nowadays).  I liked the way the story is not there at all- You never know what is happening and why. Sure, that depends on author's clumsiness, still I prefer it like that to a too linear story. And most of the scenes have an original treatment (see the fake funereal wake or the way traitors are dealt with in the train) though the director really doesn't know what to do with a camera.
This kind of movie you don't find nowadays.   

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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2007, 02:02:20 PM »

Savalas also turns up in another Eugenio Martino movie, HORROR EXPRESS aka PANIC ON THE TRANS-SIBERIAN EXPRESS starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. A horror-sci fi adventure that was, IMO a bit ahead of its time.

There was a British release of this along with TOWN CALLED HELL which may be the source print for this one.

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cigar joe
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2007, 04:14:07 PM »

Quote
Tell you what: I mildly liked the movie. His plentiful defects rather add to its charm, I wouldn't mind watching it again. Only thing that doesn't square is Connors performance: he really doesn't know what to do (or maybe wasn't told) with his character. He is made to prepare with a confrontation with Savalas that never happens. Alsol I can't understand why Villa's name is never pronounced and Savalas character is dubbed as Concho Verdad (BTW I like Savalas. Can't understand there's nobody around like him nowadays).  I liked the way the story is not there at all- You never know what is happening and why. Sure, that depends on author's clumsiness, still I prefer it like that to a too linear story. And most of the scenes have an original treatment (see the fake funereal wake or the way traitors are dealt with in the train) though the director really doesn't know what to do with a camera.
This kind of movie you don't find nowadays.   

Oh I'll definitely watch it again for its great cinematogarphy and Almerian landscapes, the story is ok and watchable but it does have those interesting and noticeable faults, I think it did have the potential to be much better.

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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2007, 05:36:14 PM »

Savalas also turns up in another Eugenio Martino movie, HORROR EXPRESS aka PANIC ON THE TRANS-SIBERIAN EXPRESS starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. A horror-sci fi adventure that was, IMO a bit ahead of its time.

There was a British release of this along with TOWN CALLED HELL which may be the source print for this one.
Horror Express is totally brill but unfortunately Pancho Villa is on the other end of the spectrum-absolutely dreadful and the ONLY Euro western i never bothered to keep permanently on video tape-i remember the usually liberal minded Marco Leone telling me in a pm that he struggled to stay awake for this one!!
  I recall this being slow,boring and the usually charasmatic Savalas very dull,and i'm struggling to see how the mighty Cigar Joe can enjoy the extremely unfunny(like every other attempt at humour here) scene involving the Chuck Connors directed mass fly swat in the armys canteen-a total embarassment like the rest of this movie.
   Avoid at all cost Undecided

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cigar joe
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2007, 08:23:54 PM »

Quote
I recall this being slow,boring and the usually charasmatic Savalas very dull,and i'm struggling to see how the mighty Cigar Joe can enjoy the extremely unfunny(like every other attempt at humour here) scene involving the Chuck Connors directed mass fly swat in the armys canteen-a total embarassment like the rest of this movie

I didn't think it was funny either, it was totally miscast but I really enjoyed the trains and the cinematography, so that pretty much biased me towards it. Wink

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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2007, 09:58:59 AM »

   Maybe i should try and catch it again if it comes up on the telly again but wasn't the ending unsatifactory? Roll Eyes

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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2007, 03:09:04 PM »

I likle the ending, though it makes no sense. Or maybe this is the reason why I like it. Well, I also like it because there's Savalas singing: I imagine him in hell or heaven darng Lee Marvin to a singing contest... I'm still at large though why his name in the movie is not Pancho Villa. Can anybody elaborate?

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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2007, 06:07:46 PM »

Well for me the ending was ridiculous, I liked the head on train collision, it should have just ended there and basta. Let us contemplate their fates.

The rest was pretty dopey especially Connors in the full body cast, (Laurel & Hardy, Three Sooges, been there done that), you'd think Savalas would have been equally busted up.

The end credits were ok with Savalas singing atop the train and the Almeria scenery I can live with it.

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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2007, 09:00:15 PM »

Savalas was the best thing about "Town called Hell" (a shame he gets offed quickly). Even the attractive Stella Stevens was dry.

Not looking forward to Villa as I don't like train movies.

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