Lucio Vasquez (1968)
Director: Rene Cardona, Tito Novarro.
Starring: Antonio Aguilar (Lucio Vázquez), Jaime Fernandez (Emiliano Zapata), Alma Delia Fuentes (Evangelina García), Eleazar Garcia (Justino), Dagoberto Rodriguez (don Urbano Aranda).
(no English subtitles)
a close comrade to Zapata wants revenge for the killings of Zapata and his father
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
Zapata's camp at night. Lucio Vasquez and two others speak with Zapata, the leader of the southern forces during the Mexican Revolution. Zapata prepares for peace with the government forces. He wants to know if they think the federal Colonel can be trusted. Lucio says that he thinks the Colonel can be trusted, but that they don't know what are his true intentions. He warns his commander to be careful, for if Zapata dies, the cause dies with him.
In a classroom Lucio's father talks to a group of peasants about the importance of tierra y libertad (land and liberty). The big land owners like Don Paulino Garcia and others like him have too much land. Two of the peasants wait until after class to speak with Lucio's father about rumors that the land owners want to kill him. The father tells them not to worry. The landowners wouldn't dare try anything since they know that Zapata and his forces are very close. But that night, as the two peasants watch, three masked men with the help of two others kidnap Lucio's father.
In the morning the bugle sounds at camp. One of the peasants who saw the kidnapping come to give Lucio with some bad news. His father was hanged. Lucio promises that those responsible will pay for this.
Zapata with Lucio behind him and then followed by Zapata's men ride their horses to a meeting with the federal forces. The Colonel and his officers salute Zapata and he returns the salute. The federal troops shout: "Long live Zapata! Long live the revolution!" The Colonel presents Zapata with the gift of a beautiful white horse. Zapata, seeing as he has been friends with Lucio since childhood, gives his horse to his comrade. Zapata says "Until tomorrow" and leaves with his troops.
The next morning Zapata and his forces head toward the fort. In the fort the Colonel is preparing for the assassination of Zapata. Captain Salgade will be in charge of a squad who will greet Zapata at the gate. The plan is for the squad to execute Zapata as he enters the fort. Zapata enters the fort and the troops fire on him, killing him. A fire fight then starts between the federal troops and Zapata's men, led by Lucio. The Zapatistas are losing a lot of men so they choose to retreat.
The army puts Zapata's body on public display and the villagers line up to walk past the corpse. All of a sudden, among those lining up to see the body, the armed forces of Zapata, again led by Lucio, open fire on the army men. The Captain is one of the first to be killed. Some of the peasants use their machetes to hack away at the soldiers.
The forces of Zapata meet in the town square. Lucio speaks to them. He says that they fight for the cause of land and liberty.
At the large home of Don Paulino Garcia, the wealthy landowners celebrate the death of their enemy Zapata. Don Paulino speaks of the land their families have owned for generations and made bountiful with the sweat off their brows. Don Paulino's friend says that in addition to the good news about Zapata, there is other good news. His son Rafael will be marrying the beautiful daughter Evangelina of his friend Don Paulino. But Evangelina is not at all happy about this idea. She walks away from Rafael. Rafael's father tells his friend that his daughter is making his son look ridiculous. Evangelina tells Rafael that she will never marry him. She will marry for love only. Rafael tells her to dance with him, because everyone is looking at them.
Suddenly, Lucio Vasquez and his men enter the room. He says he heard that the big land owners were celebrating the death of Zapata. Lucio says that Zapata's cause is as strong as ever. He adds that the land owners work the peasants like beasts. Further, he says: "You say that the land belongs to those who work it. But look at your hands, ladies and gentlemen. Where are the calluses?" To find those, they would have to look at the hands of the peasants. But there is another matter that Lucio wants to talk about: the murder of his father. He tells the crowd that he will hang those responsible on the same branch on the same tree where he father was hung. He then tells Don Paulino to turn out the lights, the party's over. But Don Paulino refuses. So Lucio has his men shoot out the lights. Evangelina slowly approaches Lucio. Lucio turns and leaves with his men.
Lucio rides his horse over to the tree where as a boy he carved the name Evangelina on the trunk.
Flashback. A private tutor teaches the young girl Evangelina, but the young peasant boy Lucio sticks his head in and reads aloud what the tutor wrote on the blackboard. The tutor chases Lucio out. Evangelina objects to his chasing her friend away. The tutor responds: "A decent girl like you should not have friendships with the sons of peasants." This, however, does not phase Evangelina. She herself teaches Lucio how to read. One day the tutor and Don Paulino catch Evangelina with Lucio. Her father gives Lucio a harsh lashing with a horse whip.
Lucio's father puts ointment on his son's cuts. Dad says the wealthy will do anything to keep their position and power. A young Zapata overhears part of Lucio's father's speech. He comes in very upset. He says that the land belongs to the peasants.
Back to the present. Evangelina rides out to the tree. She and Lucio kiss. She touches the inscription of her name on the tree trunk. She talks about the beautiful memories, but Lucio adds that the memories are also sad and bitter to him. Rafael and his father ride to the tree. When Rafael sees the couple hugging, he wants to shoot Lucio. But his father stops him.
Back at home, Evangelina's father scolds her for being with Lucio. But she fights right back. The woman has spirit. Then her father uses the trump card. If she continues to see Lucio, they will kill him. Evangelina runs out of the room crying. At night Lucio dressed in all white except for his black sombrero waits for Evangelina at the their favorite tree. But Evangelina does not shows up.
There is a meeting of the land owners. There is bad news. The new provisional governor has approved some of the land changes. But Rafael's father tells the group that all is not lost. The peasants simply do not have the means or the money to develop the land. In the end the wealthy will get control of the land from the peasants. And don't worry about Lucio. The plan is to bring about the demise of Mr. Vasquez at the rodeo skill displays during the celebration of the patron saint of the town. Suddenly, Lucio and a band of musicians start serenading Evangelina. But, because of what her father said, she does not acknowledge Lucio.
One of the wealthy landowners tells one of Lucio's friends about the planned assassination of Lucio. Lucio then suddenly shows up at Don Paulino's place. He wants to hang Don Paulino. But when he hits the man with a horse whip, Evangelina hears the cries and comes to the defense of her father. She tells Lucio not to kill her father; don't be like the selfish land owners. Her trump card with Lucio is that if he must kill her father, then he can just kill her too. Lucio leaves walks out. She follows him outside to talk to him. Her father does not like this and tells her so and she tells him to leave her alone to be with Lucio.
Lucio shows up at the rodeo skill display. One of the events is pulling a steer off its feet by grabbing its tail while on horseback. Rafael and two henchmen try to kill Lucio, but Evangelina shouts a warning to him to look behind him. A shoot-out follows and Rafael is killed. The landowners and their allies start firing at the peasants who are coming to the aid of Lucio. Quite a few people are killed, including one of Lucio's very close friends. Rafael's father vows vengeance against Lucio.
Lucio and Evangelina are married. But the wealthy landowners still want Lucio dead. Evanglina asks Lucio to take her away to some place where she can raise her children in peace. Evangelina's father is so upset about the wedding that he pours gasoline in the various rooms and sets it afire. He sits down with a cigar and waits for the fire to consume him. Evangelina and Lucio see the fire and race over to her father's house. Someone tells her that her father is still inside, adding "He can't live without honor."
Evangelina now has a baby boy named Lucio. A group of peasants come to their house to sing for the new parents. Rafael's dad and his henchmen watch the house. The peasants leave. And then Lucio leaves. The men set up an ambush. They rush out from the vegetation and surprise Lucio. They shoot him dead.
An o.k. movie. Not much history except for some insights into the reasons for the Mexican Revolution in the first place and the assassination of Zapata. Antonio Aguilar as Lucio Vasquez does a pretty good job. He's pleasant enough. Alma Delia Fuentes as Evangelina definitely showed some fire in her eyes to indicate her character's determination to be with the man she loves.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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