Viva Villa! (1934)

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    There is 1 reply in this Thread. The last Post () by ethanedwards.

    • Viva Villa! (1934)



      Plot Summary
      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...

      Jack Conway
      Howard Hawks ... (uncredited)
      William A. Wellman ... (uncredited)

      Writing Credits
      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

      Herbert Stothart

      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.

      Factual errors
      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.

      Memorable Quotes

      Filming Locations

      San Marcos, Mexico
      Chihuahua, Mexico (MGM press release, 1941)
      El Paso, Texas, USA
      Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico (MGM press release, 1941)
      Juarez, Mexico
      Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 13 times, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Viva Villa! (1934)

      Viva Villa! is a 1934 American Pre-Code film starring
      Wallace Beery as Pancho Villa and was written by Ben Hecht, adapted from the book Viva Villa!.
      The film was shot on location in Mexico and directed by Jack Conway.
      There was uncredited assistance with the script
      Howard Hawks, James Kevin McGuinness, and Howard Emmett Rogers.
      Hawks and William A. Wellman
      were also uncredited directors on the film.

      The film is a fictionalized biography of Pancho Villa starring
      Beery, Leo Carrillo and Fay Wray.
      The supporting cast features
      Donald Cook, Stuart Erwin, Henry B. Walthall,
      Joseph Schildkraut and Katherine DeMille.

      The film was very popular at the box office.

      Box office
      The film grossed a total (domestic and foreign) of $1,875,000: $941,000 from the US and Canada
      and $934,000 elsewhere. It made a profit of $87,000.

      User Review
      Good Western
      11 September 2002 | by kenandraf (Honolulu,Hawaii)

      ken wrote:

      Good western movie with good all around production and performances.Very gritty and not too watered down in it's violent sequences.The only flaw here is the fictionalised version of the main characters story which is not what most people want from a profound historical icon as Pacho Villa.Surely he must have had a great true to life story to be told thru Hollywood without resorting to this over mythologised version.Also,the great actress Fay Wray was so underused here as well.Her makeup here was also terribly done,making her look like some kind of evil Vampiress.

      Only for fans of Mexican Westerns and big fans of the lead actors.....
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 10 times, last by ethanedwards ().