Caballo prieto azabache (Midnight Stallion) (1968)
Director: René Cardona.
Starring: Antonio Aguilar (Jesús Aguilar), Flor Silvestre (Genoveva Larios), Jaime Fernández (Rodolfo Fierro), Jorge Russek (El Coyote), Jessica Munguía (Martina Arango), Guillermo Rivas (Daniel), Tito Novaro (Coronel Jiménez), José Luis Moreno (Hipólito Arango), José Eduardo Pérez (Juan), Pascual García Peña (Pueblerino), Victorio Blanco (General Velasco), Víctor Velázquez (Emeterio Leyva), José Luis Fernández (Jacinto), Alejandro Reyna (Plácido López).
(no English subtitles)
a man shelters Villa in his early days after he killed a landowner and then Villa repays a debt
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie. I missed a lot because of my poor Spanish, but I got the main happenings.
Jesús de Aguilar is an old man now, but he still rides his horse and helps move the horses on his ranch. He greets two horse buyers. Later he excuses himself: "I'm going to visit the tomb of my General." At the grave a tear rolls down his right cheek.
Flashback. A man named Doroteo Arango is trying to get away from his pursuers. He killed his landowner after the man raped his sister. He runs into Jesús who gives him his horse to escape from the authorities.
Jesús goes to a cockfight with his rooster. He hears a beautiful woman sing and is very taken by her. She seems to be with a rival who also is there to fight his rooster. Jesús bets the man 5,000 pesos that his rooster will win. The bet is taken, the cocks fight takes place and Jesús comes out the winner. This does not set well with the loser and outside he pulls a knife on Jesús. In the fight Jesús falls against a wall and the rival comes in for the kill. But Jesús is able to stab and kill him with his knife as his opponent jumps forward onto him.
Jesús speaks with the beautiful woman who is not happy that he killed his rival. The winner of the fight tells her that he fought only in self-defense. He wants to see her again. She finally agrees to see him the next morning and goes into her home. Jesús returns later with a mariachi band and serenades the woman outside her home. An older man comes out and thanks him for the song. Jesús tells him he wants to see the young woman, but the man doesn't know who he is talking about. No, she does not live her. He lives here with only his wife. Jesús has to give up for the moment.
The next day Jesús sees a beautiful black stallion that he wants as his own. With his men he chases the horse. The horse gets away, so they decide to surround it. They do so and one of the vaqueros (cowboys) is able to get a lasso around the horse's neck.
Jesús and his vaqueros are having lunch. His friend warns him about selling horses to the forces of dictator Huerta. The villistas (supporters of Pancho Villa) will not like it. But Jesús says that he is not a politician and the side he is on is his own. Villa General Rodolfo Fierro and his soldiers come upon Jesús and his vaqueros. He asks them who they are. The General becomes very angry at the attitude of Jesús. He says that Jesús will face a firing squad.
At Villa headquarters, Villa is instructing his commanders on the coming attack on Torreón. One will attack the left, another the right and still another the center. Felipe Ángeles will support the attack with his artillery. The men then leave. General Fierro brings in Jesús and his men to see Villa. Villa takes a look through a window at the midnight stallion. He says thanks for the gift of the horse. Jesús tells him the animal was not a gift. (Rather it's a "forced" gift.) Villa asks Jesús if he recognizes him. No. Villa is the name taken by Doroteo Arango, the fleeing man to whom Jesús gave his horse. Jesús finally recognizes him. Villa tells him to give him a hug. They hug. Then Jesús hugs Villa's brother, who he already knows. Villa tells General Fierro that Jesús is like his own brother. The General doesn't like it at all, but he does back down. Villa laughs when Jesús reminds him that he already gave him one horse. The bottom line: Jesús keeps his horse.
Villa shows Jesús around the place. Jesús tells him about the beautiful woman who he met and then lost. General Fierro wants to have a gun fight with Jesús, but Villa intervenes to save Jesús again. Villa sends Jesús to visit the federal army to gather information. Jesús agrees to go. When he arrives at the headquarters of the federal troops, he finds the beautiful woman singing to them at luncheon meal. Jesús talks with the General. He mentions the woman and the General formally introduces the two, but she quickly excuses herself. That night he hides behind a building until the singer walks by and he grabs her. He kisses her, she slaps him and he kisses her again. He tells her he will see her again. The next morning we find the woman madly kissing Jesús. He stops her long enough to ask her why she sings for the federals. She tells him she has her reasons. She adds that it is best that he forget her. Jesús is not likely to do that.
Jesús goes to Villa to tell him what he learned while visiting the federals. He has Villa swear that nothing will happen to his sweetheart. Villa walks over to a door and opens it. Jesús sees his sweetheart there. Playing matchmaker Villa is very pleased with himself. He tells Jesús that she is a Villa agent, just like Jesús. He also tells Jesús that the woman asked him to make sure nothing happened to Jesús.
The next time we see the couple in love, they are married and the wife is pregnant. He goes to the horse races with his wife and friends. A man there wants the midnight stallion, but Jesús is not interested in selling him. The man then suggests a race between his horse and midnight stallion. If the man wins, he will trade horses with Jesús and receive a thousand pesos. The man and his henchman walk over to the area where the midnight stallion is being held by a ranch hand. The henchman forces the the ranch hand to have the horse drink from the stream, in order to slow the horse down in the upcoming race. Then the henchman hits the ranch hand over the head with his pistol, picks up a huge rock and brings it down hard on the head of the unconscious man.
The race takes place and Jesús's horse loses. He has to turn over the horse and the money to the man. The beaten ranch hand, however, survives. He is brought over to Jesús. The dying man tells Jesús what happened and then dies. Jesús and his friend Placido ride out to confront the cheaters. The wife of Jesús is scared what might happen to her husband, so she and a ranch hand ride after her husband. Along the way, she falls off her horse and has to be taken back home. In a gunfight, the two bad guys are killed. Jesús gets back his beloved horse.
Jesús talks with the doctor about his wife's health. He tells him that she is o.k., but she lost the baby. He adds that he does not know if she will be able to have children later or not.
The federal general learns that Jesús gave information to Villa and he tells one of his subordinates to take some men and bring Jesús to him, dead or alive. The subordinate, however, is caught by Jesús's friend Placido, who takes the man to see Villa. Villa says the man will be shot. The condemned man then blurts out that Jesús gave the federals information about Villa's forces. Villa's brother says that this is just not true, but Villa seems to believe the condemned man. Placido is arrested and then Jesús. They are both placed in prison.
Jesús calls in General Fierro and asks him if he can be executed while seated on his beloved midnight stallion. The next morning Jesús learns that his wish was granted. Before the firing squad, he climbs on his horse. But just before he is to be shot, Jesús bolts his horse forward and jumps over the now bending firing squad members. Villa and the others chase after Jesús. While racing with his horse, Jesús sees the blood on his hands. It is from his horse. The horse forces Jesús off, runs forward a ways and drops. Villa and his men catch up with him. Jesús tells them: "Kill me! Kill me!" On his knees Jesús bends over to lay on his horse. Villa decides to let Jesús live and the men just ride away.
Much later. Villa has now devoted himself to farming. Jesús is getting ready to go with Villa in a car, but he is delayed by wife and baby. Since Jesús is late, Villa decides to start heading down the road. As Jesús, wife and child walk towards the oncoming car, a man in the street gives the sign to a group of hidden assassins who, along with the lookout, then open fire killing Villa and others in the car. Jesús and his wife run to the car only to find Villa dead.
Back to the present. Finished with his memories, Jesús turns and leaves the cemetery.
Pretty good movie. I can't say there was anything great about it, but I also can't say anything really bad about it. There was a lot of pretty good singing in the movie.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
See Viva Villa! (1934).
See also La muerte de Pancho Villa (The Death of Pancho Villa) (1974).
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