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And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself (2004)

Antonio Banderas , Eion Bailey , Bruce Beresford  |  NR |  DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Antonio Banderas, Eion Bailey, Alan Arkin, Jim Broadbent
  • Directors: Bruce Beresford
  • Writers: Larry Gelbart
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish, English, French
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: April 28, 2009
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001FVECM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,753 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Antonio Banderas (Spy Kids, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) delivers a powerful, larger-than-life performance as the title character of this incredible true story of how Mexican Revolutionary, Pancho Villa, allowed a Hollywood crew to film him in battle, altering the course of film and military history in the process. The adventure gets its start when early movie giants D.W. Griffith (Colm Feore) and Harry Aiken (Jim Broadbent), send a junior executive, Frank Thayer (Eion Bailey) to Mexico to persuade the cash-strapped, publicity-hungry Villa to let them film his revolution. Stepping into the literal crossfire, Thayer's crew risks their lives in the mingling of fiction and reality. After a string of dangerous exploits, narrow escapes and double-crosses worthy of a silent action short, Thayer and Villa make their movie, and "The Life of General Villa" is released in the U.S. to popular acclaim. The film changes the public opinion in Villa's favor and proves that "the lens is mightier than the sword."

DVD Features:
Audio Commentary:Audio commentary with writer/executive producer Larry Gelbart
Featurette:Behind the scenes

A bizarre footnote from film history comes to life in And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself, an ambitious made-for-HBO opus that casts a jaundiced eye on Hollywood and politics. It's based on truth: in 1913, a movie crew went to Mexico to film general Pancho Villa, who was in the middle of leading a revolution in his country. Screenwriter Larry Gelbart and director Bruce Beresford use this mind-boggling situation to measure various Hollywood absurdities, but also to comment on the way showbiz has bent reality to fit convenient, crowd-pleasing expectations. Antonio Banderas gets a full head of steam going as Villa; he's so much better than anybody else in the movie, he underscores the weak performances of the other leads. You get the impression there were so many good anecdotes about this production, the movie can't quite find a focus. Still, for aficionados of movie lore, it's an absorbing look back at truly wild days. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprise preformance, solid production but...uneven. December 15, 2004
Antonio, my hat is off to you. Who could have guessed how good you really can be? I have been watching movies for over 50 years, and never have I seen a better job of portraying a multifaceted character while never for one second letting go of his true identity. Bravo! As to the movie itself, it exhibits production values and attention to detail far beyond the Hollywood norm, and unheard of in television studio production. The history, the hardware and the costumes, were all excellent. Unfortunately as one of my fellow reviewers has already pointed out, Senior Banderas' inspired performance, the highly polished production, the good presentation of factual history and the stellar performances of many of the minor supporting actors carried the entire production. The script was poorly conceived and crafted. The plot line was confused, confusing and lack luster. The direction was safe and adequate, but not nothing more. Worst of all, the other lead actors were either uninspired or just not really all that good at what they do. Next time, HBO, spend a buck or two on a director who knows the wide screed and on supporting leads who can carry their weight. Still, this is not a horrible picture. Senior Banderas' Tour-de-force performance and the highly polished accuracy of the production make it well worthwhile. I don't think that the movie's intent of showing an accurate picture of the early days of Hollywood was fulfilled. However, they got the history right, not always an easy thin to do.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Banderas at his charismatic best! July 21, 2004
Maybe it's all true, maybe it's partially true; but in any case, And Starring Pancho Villa... is a very satisfying movie. But the difference between a 2 star rating and a 4 star rating here is solely due to the presence of Antonio Banderas in the lead role.

It sounds like such a cartoonish idea, moviemakers tagging along with an army of revolutionaries. But then in the silent movie era of 1914, New Jersey actually was the movie making capital of the world.

The subtext to all of this is that through his experience and relationship with General Villa, his erstwhile film producer Frank Thayer matures from young gofer to influential executive. But that is nothing more than a plot device. When Banderas is not on screen, the movie loses a step or two. He gives a superlative performance that is worthy of such a controversial (and underrated) historical figure.

Viva Villa! Viva Banderas!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Solid Movie November 2, 2004
I've just watched this movie and was curious to see what others had thought about it. I was so suprised to see how low the star ratings were that I felt compelled to comment. I can't say much for it's historical value, but the movie itself is thoroughly entertaining - which is why I watch movies in the first place.

Though I was never a fan of his - Antonio Banderas was awesome in this! The production value was on par with the major motion picture industry, this isn't your low budget 'made for tv' flick.

If you like westerns, this is a good, solid film that will fit nicely in that genre.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best acting Banderas ever did July 17, 2004
I watched this movie with my friend who was raised and still lives in Torreon, we loved it. My friend has many stories, told to him by his grandmother, who was from Chihuahua. Whether or not a movie by D.W Griffith ever existed, this one was certainly well done. Antonio Banderas did a wonderful job as Pancho Villa. Villa was the epitome of good and evil. He believed in Mexico and wanted to be the Robin Hood of his time, by the same token, it was too a heavy burden for any man to bear. If you don't see this movie you are cheating yourself out of a wonderful piece of history.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW! May 27, 2004
A Kid's Review
I really liked this film when I saw it on HBO back in September. It has some great action scenes and has some great acting by Antonio Banderas as the leader Pancho Villa. The film makes Villa to be more of a hero rather than a bandit. However, it's still a great and entertaining film!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe Not History, but Good Fiction January 15, 2006
When making this kind of historical fiction, too many people expect that it is going to be a documentary; it isn't anything like that. This film is an interesting, ambiguous study of how perceptions can change by being validated by something bigger than they: something like the movies, which in itself is an absurd premise, but something that we live with every day. I wish the characters in the flim were better referenced, as I know D.W. Griffith, Charles Rosher, Christy Cabanne, and others are part of the plot as in real life, but I couldn't tell you who they were in the production, as their attributions went by so fast. Villa as a villain and charismatic leader of the masses has a built-in paradox to it, as does the documentary format in film in any case. It is a pity that the original film doesn't exist any longer (along with 90% of silent film that was made, unfortunately), especially as it was under D.W. Griffith's auspices, when the rest of his oeuvre exists down to the last reel.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting footnote to history June 2, 2004
Antonio Banderas turns in a very strong performance as Pancho Villa, in this HBO movie. The production values are excellent for a made-for-TV movie. There are no heroes here. Pancho Villa was a bandit and murderer long before he became a revolutionary general. This movie accurately depicts that Villa was a cold-blooded killer as well as an incredibly charismatic leader of men. The moviemakers were pretty cynical as well, insisting that all battles be fought in daylight so that they could be filmed. Studio execs in New Jersey (where the movie industry was based in 1914, before it moved to Hollywood) edited the movie to delete Villa's criminal side and build up the idea that he was a folk hero - a sort of Mexican George Washington.
There's nothing in this movie about Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico, in which 26 American civilians were killed, or his murder of 16 American mining engineers captured on a train, or Gen. Pershing chasing him around Mexico for several months. Those events occurred later, a year after the filming of the movie in which he played himself.
All-in-all, it is a good little movie, considering the modest budget it probably had.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting movie
This is an interesting movie that you can't find at our libraries.
Published 1 month ago by C. Gavin
5.0 out of 5 stars If you are an Antonio Banderas fan you will love this movie.
This hard charging, enjoyable historical flick earns accolades all around but especially for the strong supporting role delivered by Eion Bailey and kudos go out to veteran heavy... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kirkwall
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great, Thanks!
Published 2 months ago by Geo
4.0 out of 5 stars High School Classroom Use?
I was about to begin teaching a unit about the Mexican Revolution in my Spanish class. My students, high school seniors, groaned when I announced the new topic. Read more
Published 7 months ago by maestra
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
i love historical fiction, and this supposedly has an element of truth about an interesting personage. ive recommended it to friends!
Published 8 months ago by Dena Cuellar
4.0 out of 5 stars movie was pretty good
I've always wanted to get more informed on history of mexico and the revolutions and this movie helped. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Israel Torres
5.0 out of 5 stars Pancho Villa As Himself
Antonio Banderas shows us yet another aspect of his total versatility. This wonderful actor can play anything from a gay depressed, and suicidal lover, to the heroic hero of... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Rodney M. Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my Favorites
A must to anyone's Mexico Collection. Spaniard Banderas surprised suspecting Mexicans who thought he could not pull of the role of Pancho Villa. But he did. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Christina
5.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting View of History
An interesting movie. Poncho Villa might have been depicted as a modern Robin Hood in the culture of the time. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jerry Slauter
2.0 out of 5 stars Pancho Villa with Banders
It showed Pancho as a crazy person, no story just plain stupid! I was so disappointed with it. it sucks!
Published 19 months ago by Richard
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