Pancho Villa (1972)



Director:  Eugenio Martn.

Starring:   Telly Savalas (Pancho Villa), Clint Walker (Scotty), Chuck Connors (Col. Wilcox), Anne Francis (Flo), ngel del Pozo (Lt. Eager), Jos Mara Prada (Luis), Luis Dvila (McDermott), Mnica Randall (Lupe), Antonio Casas (Gen. Goyo), Alberto Dalbs (Mendoza), Bernabe Barta Barri (Alfonso), Eduardo Calvo (Banker), Lucy Tiller (Woman), Ins Oviedo (Soldadera), Dan van Husen (Bart).

non-historical comedy


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.

The Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa has been captured and is being transported on a train. The train is being chased by another train, which manages to catch up with the train carrying Villa.  Villa supporter Scotty and his men jump onto the train carrying Pancho Villa.  They are able to shoot the guards and free Villa.

Scotty tells Villa that they are in desperate need of ammo.  But Villa is distracted by his desire to kill his arch-enemy General Goyo.  He also reminisces about the better times two years ago when he and his forces taught their enemy a lesson at Durango.  He also talks about the time he lived in the palace in Mexico City.  Villa forces a number of wealthy businessmen to "lend" his forces $35,000 dollars.  Villa then makes a deal with the American McDermott to purchase weapons and ammunition. 

Scotty travels to Columbus, New Mexico to pick up the supplies from McDermott.  In Columbus he sees his estranged wife Flo and they verbally spar with one another.  Scotty finds out that McDermott has sold the guns and ammunition to both sides in the Mexican Revolution.  McDermott cynically tells both sides that they will have to fight it out to see who gets the materials.  Scotty kills two would-be assassins and then three more.  He and his men then go to the train depot to pick up the materials.  But when they open the train car holding the materials they are met with machine-gun fire that kills or wounds all of Scotty's men.  Scotty just barely gets away himself. 

Villa acts as judge, jury and executioner in an ad-hoc courtroom.  He shoots in the stomach two of the men who brought their cases before him.  Scotty arrives and tells him that he and his men were double-crossed in Columbus.  Scotty tells Villa that he is heading back to get McDermott, but Villa himself decides to head up to Columbus with his forces. 

Villa and his forces approach the border with the United States and kill the two soldiers of the U.S. 13th Cavalry there from the nearby Camp Columbus.  At the camp, Co. Wilcox is in charge.  In the mess hall, all hell breaks out when Wilcox orders everyone to kill a house fly found during dinner. 

Villa overruns Camp Columbus killing a number of American soldiers.  He then heads to the town of Columbus, which is quickly swamped with Mexican revolutionaries.  There Villa learns that a special train carrying Gen. Goyo back to Mexico City is heading for Columbus from Washington D.C.  Villa waits in Columbus to kill Goyo. 

Paid assassins try to kill Villa, but instead Villa kills two of that group.  The train carrying Goyo arrives and a shoot-out ensues.  Villa enters the train car carrying Goyo only to find the body of Goyo in a coffin.  Goyo had died from a stroke and his body was being transported to Mexico City for burial. 

An American lieutenant rides from Columbus to Camp Columbus to tell Col. Wilcox about Villa's take-over of Columbus.  Villa is told that American soldiers will soon descend on Columbus.  It is March 9, 1916.  Villa takes the position that he is not pulling out of Columbus even if he has to fight the whole American army.  The remainder of the paid assassins make another attempt to kill Villa.  But once again, Villa triumphs over the would-be assassins. 

Both sides, Mexicans and Americans, are looking at Santa Rita as the place along the railway line where each can stop the other's forces.  An American and a Mexican train race on the same track toward Santa Rita.  As the trains approach each other, most of the men from both trains jump off.  The trains collide wrecking both. 

General Pershing has been sent to capture Villa.  He gives Col. Wilcox, who is wrapped from head to foot in medical bandaging, a medal for his action at Santa Rita.  Pershing promises that he will relentlessly pursue Villa until he catches and then hangs the bandit.  

On Pershing's train, Villa dresses as a train restaurant worker and talks with Pershing, who does not know what Villa looks like.  Pershing asks the undercover Villa about the revolutionary bandit Pancho Villa and Villa gives him some "pointers".  Villa leaves Pershing's train car and heads to the coal car.  There he and Scotty talk about Villa's conversation with Pershing.  Villa then releases all the train cars from the locomotive and coal car leaving Pershing stranded for awhile.


O.k. movie, but it's not really historical.  It is, however, pretty funny if you are looking for a comedy.   Telly Savalas does not look like Pancho Villa in any way, but he is funny as the somewhat cartoonish Mexican revolutionary.   Clint Walker as Scotty was also good and he had some clever banter with Scotty's estranged wife, Anne Francis.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:

See Viva Villa! (1934).



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