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And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself

3.8 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself (DVD)

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."

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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

Special Features

None.

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: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: May 2, 2006
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001FVECM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #71,536 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By H. Hodgkin on December 15, 2004
Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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A Kid's Review on May 27, 2004
Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Love Antonio Banderas, he did a good job, I found it humoures that he as a Spaniard played Francisco Villa who hated Spaniards with a passion, was irritated the writers did not write about Villa with enough knowledge, his real name was Doroteo Arango, he took the name of the man who taught him to be a bandit after he ran away from his Patron Therefore himself and the gringo could not have shared a "name in common." Villa hung my first wife's Father so he was never a hero in our Family. But an amazing man none the less. At least they portayed Fierro right, my first wife's mum saw him slaughter many people, a cold blooded killer. Other than that it was an entertaining film
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