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Using a 'borrowed' airplane, American Lee Arnold (Robert Mitchum) runs guns to the Federales. A local blacksmith repairs the plane's landing gear, allowing Lee to meet the lovely Fina (Grazia Buccella). Federale officer Ramirez (Frank Wolff) rapes Fina and executes eight men including her father before Pancho Villa (Yul Brynner) counterattacks. Relieved of his money, Lee is prepared for execution by Villa's second in command, Fierro (Charles Bronson). But Villa bargains with Lee for his services as an aerial spotter and bombardier in a major battle. When Arnold complains that Villa delayed attacking the village to give the people more reason to hate the Federales, the General compensates by marrying Fina, restoring her honor. Unfortunately, Villa has married many women in the same way. More problems come from Villa's political rival General Huerta (Herbert Lom), who plots to ensure that Villa's army is wiped out in battle. The naïve President Madero (Alexander Knox) orders Villa not to cause trouble. Pancho takes a town without firing a shot, only to be arrested and put before a firing squad. Villa is convinced that his beloved President will intervene, but Madero is hundreds of miles away in Mexico City. […]
All of this is told through the experience of Robert Mitchum's Yankee aviator Lee Arnold, who wants a fast buck but keeps getting sucked into Pancho's idealistic battles. Like a fly on the wall, Arnold witnesses mass hangings and executions while never being particularly important to the plot. His girlfriend is raped and his money stolen, and he spends more than a little of his time hoping that Charles Bronson's trigger happy General Fierro won't use him for target practice.
The impressive production musters hundreds of costumed extras, an armed battle train and exciting aerial sequences with Arnold's WW1 pursuit plane. The pyrotechnics and stunt horse falls are expertly done. Top talent like ace British cinematographer Jack Hildyard put a gloss on all technical aspects, and the cast is quite capable. […] An unexpected casting success is Alexander Knox, a specialist in stuffy English authority figures. Knox is a compelling President Madero, and has a fine time play-acting in a black beard, mustache and wig.
Legend Films' DVD of Paramount's Villa Rides! is a very good enhanced transfer of elements in fine shape. The only funky shots are the barely-adequate blue screen composites that insert Mitchum into the airplane in flight. Another highlight is Maurice Jarre's spirited, classy score. It's not as lively as his work on The Professionals and some of the more lyrical passages clash with the violent subject matter, but Jarre's music is a definite plus. No extras are included. Unlike most of the other Legend releases, the cover graphic uses original poster art. --Glenn Erickson of DVDSavant.com
A film partially-written by violence-master Sam Peckinpah, this film concerns an American gun-runner who---though reluctantly at first---joins the Revolutionary Army of... Read morePublished 7 days ago by John A Driscoll
This is a great movie and a great addition to my collection -Yule Brenner, Charles Bronson and Robert Mitchum -how could you go wrong?Published 5 months ago by Gary Graybill
Yul Brynner and Robert Mitchum and lots of action.... how could this movie go wrong.....how easy is it to fly a plane ???Published 5 months ago by MOVIEJUNKY
This is another good movie starts a little slow but the story line speeds up lots of eye candy great sceneryPublished 5 months ago by Robertd5150
If you have read any of my reviews then you know that my good husband is a western addict. The cast is one that works together like a greased cog -- smooth and predictable. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Geri H. Ball
This is a great movie. It's not as good as Viva Villa with old Wallace Beery, but that's a tough act to follow. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Rio Frank
I liked the historical content and the quality of the actors - a truly great / classic historical film - one to watch againPublished 8 months ago by Nappy History Buff