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TREASURE OF PANCHO VILLA, THE (director: George Sherman; screenwriters: Niven Busch/based on a story by J. Robert Bren and Gladys Atwater; cinematographer: William E. Snyder; editor: Harry Marker; music: Leith Stevens; cast: Rory Calhoun (Tom Bryan), Shelley Winters (Ruth Harris), Gilbert Roland (Juan Castro), Joseph Calleia (Pablo Morales), Carlos Mosquiz (Commandant), Fanny Schiller (Laria Morales), Tony Carbajal (Farolito); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edmund Grainger; RKO; 1955)
“Talkative but still action-packed oddball western that’s too plodding to fully work.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Veteran B Western filmmaker George Sherman (“The Last of the Fast Guns”/”The Phantom Cowboy”/”Kansas Cyclone”) directs this talkative but still action-packed oddball western that’s too plodding to fully work; it’s filmed on location in Morelos, Mexico, and filmed in Technicolor and SuperScope. It’s overwritten by Niven Busch (“Pursued”) and based on a story by J. Robert Bren and Gladys Atwater. It tells of a band of revolutionaries who rob a shipment of gold from a government train and plan to hook-up with the Mexican revolutionary bandit general Pancho Villa in his northern mountain hideout.

The story is set in the Mexico of 1915 and focuses on two adventurers, the opportunistic American mercenary Tom Bryan (Rory Calhoun) and the gung-ho revolutionary Juan Castro (Gilbert Roland), as they fight among themselves over the treasure earmarked for Villa and the revolution. In the meantime, they are being pursued by the Federales.

Shelley Winters plays the surviving daughter of a copper mine owner who is rescued by revolutionaries Pablo Morales (Joseph Calleia) and his wife Laria (Fanny Schiller), and decides to become a revolutionary and joins the trek to Villa’s lair.

Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.

It seems everyone has their own idea of where this king’s ransom of gold should go and this leads to double-crosses, fistfights, gun-fighting, machete-waving, an avalanche and, in the end, to the dynamiting of the gold, the Federales, Castro and Bryan. The film is all about the greed for the gold and has this tagline:”Kill you for a woman, gringo? Never! But for the Gold…”. Much of the plot is borrowed freely from The Treasure of Sierra Madre.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”