Saturday, December 01, 2007


Until yesterday, all I knew about the Cisco Kid, courtesy the War hit from 1973, was that he drank whisky and Pancho drank the wine. Now I've seen one of his movies and I know him a little bit better. The character originally appeared in an O. Henry story which was adapted for the movies as IN OLD ARIZONA in 1929 with Warner Baxter playing the Kid, a Mexican Robin Hood figure (and winning the Oscar for best actor that year). Cisco appeared in a couple other films before Fox started this B-Western series with Cesar Romero playing the lead. The film begins with a montage, set to the tune of "La Cucaracha," of reports of a string of robberies attributed to the Cisco Kid; all the "Wanted" posters have different faces on them, letting us know that Romero couldn't possibly have committed them all, but the extent of his real criminal activities remain ambiguous. Romero and his sidekick Gordito (Chris-Pin Martin) come upon a man, traveling with a baby and shot by bandits; with his dying breath, he gives a map of his gold mine to Romero, Martin, and fellow good Samaritan Robert Barratt and asks them to make sure his child is taken care of. They decide to split the map in three parts so no one of them can make a land grab, but it turns out that Barratt is the killer bandit; when his gang arrives to try and get the map parts from Romero and Martin, the two burn up and swallow their pieces after memorizing them, so Barratt has to keep them alive if he has any hope of finding the mine. When the new schoolmarm (Marjorie Weaver) arrives in town, she agrees to take care of the baby, though she has some explaining to do when her beau (George Montgomery) arrives from Kansas City. Of course, thanks to Romero, they wind up together and married, and with the gold mine to boot, and Barratt winds up dead, assumed by bystanders to have been the Cisco Kid. The balance here is heavily weighted toward humor and romance, with an occasional action scene now and then. Virginia Field is the hooker with the heart of gold who has a nice dance scene with Romero. Ward Bond has a small part as a drunk. Romero is very good, though I think I've seen all of the Cisco Kid that I need. [FMC]

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