Viva Pancho Villa!

By David Johanssen

Francisco “Pancho” Villa was a Mexican revolutionary leader who advocated for the poor and promised agrarian reform. Though he was also a ruthless bandit and opportunist, many Mexicans remember him fondly as their “Robin Hood,” fighting the dictator Porfirio Diaz. In 1909, Villa was portrayed as a hero in the US media too, until Woodrow Wilson withdrew his support in 1916. Outraged, Villa led an army across the border and staged a brutal raid against Columbus, New Mexico. Bandito or hero? You decide as we explore Hollywood’s love affair with Francisco “Pancho” Villa. All films are in English.

Mexican Heritage Film
El Compadre Mendoza
(Godfather Mendoza)
Fri, Sep 23, 5pm
100 pesos (includes drink)
Spanish, English Subtitles
Viva Villa!
Sat, Sep 24, 5pm
100 pesos (includes drink)
And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself
Wed, Sep 28, 5pm
100 pesos (includes drink)
All My Sons
Fri, Sep 30, 5pm
100 pesos (includes drink)

All events are at Shelter Theater, Vicente Guerrero 4, colonia San Rafael

We begin with Viva Villa (1934) on Saturday, September 24, at 5pm. A biography written by legendary screenwriter Ben Hecht: A young Pancho Villa takes to the hills after killing an overseer in revenge for his father’s death. There, a meeting with visionary leader Francisco Madero transforms Villa from an avenging bandit to revolutionary general. TV Guide says, “A sparky Hecht screenplay enlivens this high-gloss western, MGM’s biggest hit of 1934!”

And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (2003) on Wednesday, September 28, at 5pm. Filmed almost entirely in and around San Miguel, this HBO film recounts the odd story of Pancho Villa’s film career when he invited American filmmakers to film his heroic battles against the Mexican government. What results is a surreal film-within-a-film as silent film stars compete with Pancho’s outsized ego (as magnificently portrayed by Antonio Banderas) for the camera’s affection.

Continuing our Mexican Heritage Film series, we present El Compadre Mendoza, a film from 1934 by Fernando de Fuentes, on Friday, September 23 at 5pm. During the Mexican Revolution, Rosalio Mendoza survives by winning favors from both sides. Eventually, the delicate balance becomes unsustainable and he has to choose one. The Pacific Film Archive says, “the revolution energized all of the Mexican arts…. this film is a complex analysis of the corrupted ideals of the Mexican Revolution.”

Friday, September 30, at 5pm, Shelter presents All My Sons, Arthur Miller’s classic drama about social responsibility set against personal gain. This universally-acclaimed and intimately filmed production, directed by Howard Davies, features a cast led by David Suchet and Zoë Wanamaker, faithfully reproducing London’s sold-out performance. “A classic production, never to be forgotten… . David Suchet is astounding!”

—London Telegraph.


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