Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Buzz Kulik|
|Produced by||Ted Richmond|
|Screenplay by||Robert Towne|
|Story by||William Douglas Lansford|
|Based on||Pancho Villa|
by William Douglas Lansford
|Music by||Maurice Jarre|
|Edited by||David Bretherton|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$1.2 million (US/Canada rentals)|
Villa Rides is a 1968 American Technicolor western war film in Panavision directed by Buzz Kulik and starring Yul Brynner as Francisco Villa and Robert Mitchum as an American adventurer and pilot of fortune. The supporting cast includes Charles Bronson as Fierro, Herbert Lom as Huerta and Alexander Knox as Madero. Sam Peckinpah wrote the original script and was set to direct, but Brynner disliked like Peckinpah's harsh depiction of Villa and had Robert Towne rewrite the script, with Kulik brought on as director. The screenplay is based on the biography by William Douglas Lansford.
Pulled into the Mexican Revolution by his own greed, Texas gunrunner and pilot Lee Arnold (Mitchum) joins bandit-turned-patriot Pancho Villa (Brynner) and his band of dedicated men in a march across Mexico battling the Colorados and stealing women's hearts as they go. However, each has a nemesis among his friends: Arnold is tormented by Fierro (Bronson), Villa's right-hand man, and Villa must face possible betrayal by his own president's naiveté.
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a mixed review, writing, "You would think an interesting picture could be made about Pancho Villa and the Mexican Revolution, a subject most Americans know next to nothing about. But we learn nothing except that Pancho was a romantic fellow who had a mustache and liked to have people lined up three in a row and killed with one bullet. (That scene, incidentally, got a big laugh.) Frankly, this kind of movie is beginning to get to me. You can enjoy one, maybe, or two. Or you can enjoy a particularly well done shoot-em-up. But the Loop has been filled with one action-adventure after another for the last month, and if Villa Rides is not the worst, it is certainly not the best."
Film critic A. H. Weiler wrote, "Yul Brynner, Robert Mitchum, cavalry, politicos and even the faint strains of "La Cucaracha" fail to disguise the fact that Villa Rides which dashed into the Forum Theater yesterday, is simply a sprawling Western and not history. As such it incessantly fills the screen with the din of pistols and rifles, and assorted warfare and wenching, shot in sharp color on rugged Spanish sites that strikingly simulate Mexico. Any resemblance to the 1912-1914 campaigns of the bandit-revolutionary in the cause of liberal President Madero and against General Huerta is purely coincidental."