DIRECTED BY JACK CONWAY/HOWARD HAWKS/WILLIAM A. WELLMAN
PRODUCED BY DAVID O. SELZNICK
DIRECTED BY JACK CONWAY/HOWARD HAWKS/WILLIAM A. WELLMAN
PRODUCED BY DAVID O. SELZNICK
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
In this fictionalized biography, young Pancho Villa takes to the hills after killing an overseer in revenge for his father's death. In 1910, he befriends American reporter Johnny Sykes. Then a meeting with visionary Francisco Madero transforms Villa from an avenging bandit to a revolutionary general. To the tune of 'La Cucaracha,' his armies sweep Mexico. After victory, Villa's bandit-like disregard for human life forces Madero to exile him. But Madero's fall brings Villa back to raise the people against a new tyrant...
Written by Rod Crawford
Wallace Beery ... Pancho Villa
Leo Carrillo ... Rodolfo Fierro (as Sierra)
Fay Wray ... Teresa
Donald Cook ... Don Felipe de Castillo
Stuart Erwin ... Jonny Sykes
Henry B. Walthall ... Francisco Madero
Joseph Schildkraut ... Gen. Pascal
Katherine DeMille ... Rosita Morales (as Katherine de Mille)
George E. Stone ... Emilio Chavito
Phillip Cooper ... Pancho Villa as a Boy
David Durand ... Bugle Boy
Frank Puglia ... Pancho Villa's Father
Francis X. Bushman Jr. ... Wallace Calloway
Adrian Rosley ... Alphonso Mendoza
Henry Armetta ... Alfredo Mendosa
Pedro Regas ... Tomás
George Regas ... Don Rodrigo
and many, many more...
Howard Hawks ... (uncredited)
William A. Wellman ... (uncredited)
Ben Hecht ... (screen play)
Edgecumb Pinchon ... (suggested by the book by) (as Edgcumb Pinchon) and
O.B. Stade ... (suggested by the book by)
Howard Hawks ... (contributing writer) (uncredited)
James Kevin McGuinness ... (contributing writer) (uncredited)
Howard Emmett Rogers ... (contributing writer) (uncredited)
David O. Selznick ... producer
Charles G. Clarke ... (photographed by)
James Wong Howe ... (photographed by)
On 19 November 1933, during location filming in Mexico, Lee Tracy, originally cast as Johnny Sykes, got drunk and urinated from his hotel balcony onto a passing military parade. He was arrested, fired from the film and replaced by Stuart Erwin. Original director Howard Hawks was also fired for refusing to testify against Tracy, and replaced by Jack Conway. However, in his autobiography, Charles G. Clarke, the cinematographer on the picture, said that he was standing outside the hotel during the parade and the incident never happened. Tracy, he said, was standing on the balcony observing the parade when a Mexican in the street below made an obscene gesture at him. Tracy replied in kind, and the next day a local newspaper printed a story that said, in effect, Tracy had insulted Mexico, Mexicans in general and the Mexican flag in particular. The story caused an uproar in Mexico, and MGM decided to sacrifice Tracy in order to be allowed to continue filming there.
The "Running W" was a device used on horses at that time which made them fall before the camera
at a specific point of an action scene, often killing or injuring the animal so badly
that it had to be put down.
It involved a harness on the horse secured to "piano" wire which was attached to a stationary object.
As the horse reached the end of the length of wire,running full tilt, it would be "tripped".
The practice was finally halted after complaints from the A.S.P.C.A.
The "Running W" wires can be seen clearly attached to the horses which were "shot down"
in the final battle scene of this film .
Wallace Beery had previously played Pancho Villa as one of the villains in the 15-chapter silent serial Patria (1917), starring Irene Castle.
Pancho Villa's widow wrote a letter to David O. Selznick telling him that she liked Wallace Beery's interpretation of her husband.
No Hispanic actors were cast in the film. Of the 16 main credited actors, only Leo Carillo could lay claim to any Spanish lineage - from the Conquistadores era. Argentinian actress was originally the feminine lead, but was replaced by Fay Wray in a rewritten part.
Much of the footage originally shot by Howard Hawks is said to have been lost in a plane crash. However, Hawks claimed that most of the location footage (except battle scenes) was his.
Filming began in 1931 in Mexico, but because of production delays, personnel changes and other problems, the film wasn't released until 1934.
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on October 10, 1938 with Wallace Beery reprising his film role.
Howard Hawks, James Kevin McGuinness and Howard Emmett Rogers all did uncredited work on the screenplay.
Ben Hecht's original screenplay was so long that producer David O. Selznick considered making a two-part film about the life of Pancho Villa, with the first part depicting his rise and the second about his fall. This idea was shot down by Nicholas Schenck, the head of Loews, MGM's parent company, who didn't believe that audiences would be interested enough to watch two films on the same subject.
Ben Hecht was paid $10,000 for his script with the promise of an additional $5000 if he finished it in 15 days.
Edward G. Robinson, Clark Gable and Paul Muni were all initially mooted for the lead role.
Wallace Beery hated filming on Mexican locations and had a private plane on stand-by to whisk him off to El Paso or Mexico City anytime his schedule permitted.
The film drew a lot of adverse publicity in France, since one of the military medals worn by the character of Gen. Pascal closely resembled the Legion of Honour, France's highest accolade. MGM had to apologize for bringing the medal into disrepute and David O. Selznick was forced to send a memo to the art and props departments of the studio telling them to design medals more along the lines of Czarist Russia.
UK audiences complained about the title, misinterpreting it as being a foreign language film. An alternative title was suggested - "Robin Hood of the Rio Grande" - but David O. Selznick said no.
Original director Howard Hawks quit the production because he felt that it wasn't safe. Gun-toting revolutionaries prowled the set, safety standards were lax and a suicide took place in front of the director. Hawks lasted 10 weeks and was only too happy to leave.
Mexican government officials were not keen on the casting of Wallace Beery as the honored Pancho Villa, because he usually played villains or buffoons.
After Howard Hawks bowed out as director, William A. Wellman did some uncredited help before Jack Conway took over.
David O. Selznick wanted to film all the exterior scenes in Mexico. MGM was not keen on this idea, having racked up huge extra costs due to location filming on Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925). Selznick got his way, however, having secured the promise of assistance from Mexican president Abelardo L. Rodriguez, in terms of military equipment and personnel.
Because of the difficulties of location shooting, multiple retakes and cast replacements, the budget started edging $1,000,000 - a huge amount of money at the time.
After Howard Hawks was replaced by Jack Conway and Stu Erwin was recast in the Tracy part and all the second unit scenes were lost in a plane crash, Mona Maris was replaced by Fay Wray with an almost completely rewritten part. A primary reason for the change was star Wallace Beery's dissatisfaction with Maris.
San Marcos, one of the film's prime locations was virtually a ghost town with cast and crew having to stay in abandoned buildings and dilapidated railway carriages without any amenities.
" Viva Villa! " was the most popular movie at the U.S. box office for 1934.
This film had its first television showings in Los Angeles Friday 28 December 1956 on KTTV (Channel 11), followed by New York City Saturday 12 January 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2) and by Philadelphia Tuesday 12 March 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6); in San Francisco it first aired 23 November 1958 on KGO (Channel 7).
When Villa announces the signing of the law at the banquet, the position of the papers in his hand changes multiple times between shots.
President Madero is shown as being overthrown in a coup by Gen. Pascal, who then shoots him. In reality, there was no such general named Pascal; Madero was assassinated on the orders of Gen. Victoriano Huerta, who did overthrow him but who did not personally shoot him.
Madero is shown being shot by Pascal at Madero's desk in his office in the Presidential Palace in Mexico City. In reality, Madero and his Vice President were shot by soldiers of Gen. Victoriano Huerta, who had overthrown Madero and was having him transported to a prison outside Mexico City. The car they were in stopped behind a building outside the prison, and Madero and his vice president were taken outside the cars and shot.
The film strongly implies that Pancho Villa took Mexico City by himself, and then made himself president. In fact, the city was taken in a three-pronged attack by Villa's forces and those of two other revolutionary generals, Emiliano Zapata and Venustiano Carranza. After the city was taken and Huerta fled, the three generals ruled together, although Zapata soon went home and Carranza eventually forced Villa out of power, defeating his forces and ruling Mexico by himself.
When Villa passes sentence on Pascal, the fruit Villa is eating switches hands between shots.
As Villa's assassins are taking aim at him from the building across the street, Villa is shown unfurling a cloth of some kind. In the subsequent close shot, that cloth is nowhere to be seen.
San Marcos, Mexico
Chihuahua, Mexico (MGM press release, 1941)
El Paso, Texas, USA
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico (MGM press release, 1941)
Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
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