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Villa Rides

4.4 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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(Jun 03, 2008)
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(Jan 01, 1968)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Viva la revolución! Oscar® winner Yul Brynner stars as Pancho Villa in this thrilling story of the Mexican Revolution. Along for the ride are legends Robert Mitchum with Charles Bronson at his sneering best. A gritty screenplay by Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch) brings out the chemistry between the stars and makes this action packed tale of real life desperados a must see!


The Italian western craze of the 1960s added new life to the genre, but it also quickened the end of the traditional American western's noble heroes, simplistic stories and clear morals. To survive, American westerns almost immediately became darker in theme and more cynical in outlook. Some American producers followed the Italians to Spain, coming up with hybrid productions of their own. 1968's Villa Rides! is an expensive show with assets most Italian producers only dreamed of: big stars, top creative talent and battle scenes worthy of an epic. Yul Brynner, Robert Mitchum and Charles Bronson look very impressive together on a marquee. […]

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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Yul Brynner, Robert Mitchum, Charles Bronson
  • Directors: Buzz Kulik
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, HiFi Sound, NTSC, Surround Sound, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Legend Films
  • DVD Release Date: June 3, 2008
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0016LFG2Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,800 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Villa Rides" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Villa Rides is one of those films that's disliked not for what it is but what it isn't. It isn't the script that Sam Peckinpah wrote while trying to work his way out of directorial exile - Yul Brynner found Peckinpah's vision of Pancho Villa's cruelty too unsympathetic for his ego - and it isn't that much the version that Robert Towne rewrote either. But taken on its own terms, it's a decent south of the border oater that sees Robert Mitchum's gunrunning aviator first a prisoner and then a reluctant ally of Yul Brynner's Villa in the early, less successful days of his revolutionary career. Of course, even with hair casting Brynner as Villa in the first place is a bit like casting Jeff Goldblum as Fatty Arbuckle (Herbert Lom's General Huerte is no lookalike either, though he wouldn't be out of place as a Bond villain), but as long as you're willing to overlook little things like historical accuracy, it offers some spectacular battle scenes and enough efficient action to pass muster for a couple of hours. It's also of note for introducing Charles Bronson to his trademark Zapata moustache (and unfortunately his first co-starring role with Jill Ireland) as a Villista who likes shooting prisoners and for a great Maurice Jarre score that finally received a long overdue CD release in 2011 (El Condor / Villa Rides). And Peckinpah did at least get the chance to put all that research he did to good use when he took a trip down south of the border with William Holden, Robert Ryan and the rest of the Bunch...

No extras, but an acceptable 2.35:1 widescreen transfer.
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Format: VHS Tape
Look for great performances by Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, Robert Mitchum, and even Herbert Lom (as the villainous Gen. Huerta). Close enough to historical fact to be engaging, but dramatized enough to be entertaining, this movie deserves a bigger re-release, especially on DVD.

The story revolves around an early gunrunner who "borrows" a US biplane to deliver stolen guns to the Colorados army, which is suppressing the Mexican Revolution. He immediately gets into trouble and runs afoul of the Colorados and then the revolutionists who force him to fly for them. Ultimately, it's a retelling of Lawrence of Arabia, but that doesn't detract from its entertainment value.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Ahhh Revolution etc. etc. etc.
Just having a little fun at Yul and Pancho's expense.
In reality I'm sure Pancho Villa would have been flattered having Yul Brenner
portray him in a film that shared a glimpse of his life - Hollywood style.
Though the quasi Robin Hood and hero of Mexico's history was a bit more violent(okay, way more violent-and real)than England's hero of the people.
Not to mention stouter, thicker...
I still liked the movie.
I first saw it at the theater way back when I was a young boy almost teenager.
Robert Mitchum was riding the last wave of his box office draw as a leading man (Mr. Moses,The Yakuza,El Dorado etc....)though I wasn't aware of it at the time and didn't care..still don't.
Not an Academy Award performance nor film nominee but I liked Mitchum, Brenner and Bronson (Charles Bronson as Pancho's right hand man/enforcer and comedy relief).definitely a more violent version of Robin's - Little John.The violence might be a bit of a turn off for the female viewer but put into comparison with movie graphics today...
So as far as my humble opinion goes in regards to this film.
Let me sum it up like this.
As a kid I remember my (now late) grandfather fondly relating one his childhood memories living in Mexico and seeing Pancho Villa ride into his village once ,twice, three times (Villa's long barrel pistol was described along with his great horsemanship skills).In fact over the many years I heard my grandfather tell of these glorious encounters in all their glamor,once twice,thrice...but unlike this Director's "Pancho" story, Grandpa's accuracy in detail was never questioned.
This is good because just like this Villa movie, I enjoyed his "Villa Rides" way back then and still do today.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I would actually give this 4 1/2 stars because it's definitely better than 4 stars. With cast of Yul Brynner, Robert Mitchum, and Charles Bronson and written by Sam Peckinpah (wild bunch), my expectations may have been too high. Villa rides moves along well and the chemistry between Mitchum, brynner, and bronson is great. While this may not really be historically accurate in the portrayal of Villa or his band, it's still a fun watch. I'm very partial to Charles Bronson and Robert Mitchum movies so I'm willing to forgive historical inaccuracies for the sake of entertainment and Villa Rides is definitely entertaining. The plot has been covered by other reviewers so I won't bore you with another synopsis. Some interesting moments include the marriage of Pancho Villa to Mitchum's 'love interest'. Seems she's raped by villa's men and the message from Villa is 'I'll marry her to protect her from my men but i will not be a husband in any sense of the word'. Kind of an interesting slant on Pancho Villa, seems Peckinpah figured Villa was more Robin hood than Quantrill or Bloody Bill Anderson. Villa Rides is a great way to pass 2 hours on a rainy afternoon.
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