And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself

The film opens in 1923 with studio executive Frank N. Thayer (Eion Bailey) receiving a letter in the mail, alongside a medallion of the Virgin Mary.

The film then shifts to the height of the Mexican Revolution. Pancho Villa (Antonio Banderas) finds himself without adequate funding to finance his war against the military-run government. He also finds himself at odds with the Americans because of the Hearst media empire‘s press campaign against him. To counter both of these threats, he sends emissaries to movie producers to convince them to pay to film his progress and the actual battles. Producer D.W. Griffith (Colm Feore) is immediately interested and convinces Mutual Film Studios boss Harry E. Aitkin (Jim Broadbent) to send a film crew. As Aitkin’s nephew, Thayer is initially a mere errand boy for the studio, but he makes a good impression with Villa, who demands that Thayer be placed in charge of the project. Thayer and a camera crew team film Villa leading his men to victory in battle. Despite the failure of this initial footage (which draws derisive laughter from potential backers) Thayer convinces Aitkin to invest even more money in a second attempt, and also convinces Villa to participate in making a more narrative film.

Thayer returns to Mexico with a director, actors, producers, cameramen and screenwriters, and begin to film Villa’s previous exploits using a younger actor, future film director Raoul Walsh (Kyle Chandler). The filming goes well, although Villa becomes angry that the screenwriters and the director have changed history to make a more dramatic film. However, he agrees to do a cameo appearance as an older version of himself. Meanwhile, Thayer begins a romance with actress Teddy Sampson (Alexa Davalos). He also is assigned two young child soldiers as editing assistants. One night Villa announces that they will attack a Federal held fort at Torreon and win the revolution. The film’s director and his crew tell Villa that they are not coming with him to film the battle. Villa scares them into going to the battle by having a firing squad shoot over their heads.

You might be interested in …

Mamitas Movie

Read More