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Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Gaucho (released in 1927) - Starring Douglas Fairbanks and Lupe Velez

The Gaucho is a Argentine anti-hero who is the ultimate savior; inspite of his initial wild behavior. This movie is a Douglas Fairbanks vehicle which is in-fact written and produced by him. It is said that Fairbanks was influenced by the miracles at the St. Lourdes Shrine and the religious overtones in the movie is ultimately derived from this. The Gaucho showcases the amazing good looks and athleticism of Fairbanks who swings from trees, rides bare back and dance with heavenly abandon.
El Gaucho is the ultimate bandit who can single handedly control a town with his small company of bandits coming in later to complete the task. He is willful, playful and a perfect Casanova. Gaucho sets his sights on a small town with a healing shrine. The flashback tells us that a girl who fell from a cliff was miraculously saved by the Virgin Mary who in-turn gives her the healing powers. So the shrine of Our Lady flourishes and the coffers are overflowing with gold.
The usurper, Ruiz is the villain who wants to loot the town and the shrine for the gold. But Gaucho and his banditos put a perfect spanner to his works and ends up saving the shrine. Gaucho is hailed as a hero and his roving eye makes him more appealing. His eye rests on the Mountain Girl, Maria, who is fiery and hotter than the hottest of jalapeƱos. She matches Gaucho's temper and his dancing steps. A heavenly scene is the two of them doing the tango and nothing can yet has been devised to beat the chemistry these two share. Soon Maria and Gaucho are sharing an apple and the romance flourishes.

But the mountain girl has a fiery temper and a jealous mind. She cannot stand her man showing attention to others. Gaucho is attentive and responsive, playful and watchful with the young girl. But his livery is short-lived as he is afflicted with the black doom. The movie does not present the medical condition and many critics dub it as leprosy. But the black doom slowly sucks out the life off his body and his arm turn black.
Gaucho meets the saintly lady in the Shrine whose prayers heal him. He is attracted by her serenity and holiness and falls in love with her. But this earns him the wrath of Maria. Soon all hell breaks loose with Ruiz and gang capturing him. He is tortured along with the others and this scenes can be labeled a little sadistic. But it is a Fairbanks movie who can be compared to the ultimate superhero. He prevails all the tempests with the able assistance and blessing of the Virgin Mary. Then Maria also is tamed and turned in to a perfect catholic and wedded.
This movie belongs to the silent era and this does not diminish the entertainment value. In fact the touchy feely feeling in the movie is more due the absence of sound. Douglas Fairbanks is the most apt choice as the swashbuckling, smoking Casanova bandit with a devil may care attitude. But the revelation is the mountain girl Maria, a girl who is ahead of time and no real man can match or resist this red hot pepper girl.
Just watch it for pure entertainment.

The Gaucho (released in 1927) - Starring Douglas Fairbanks and Lupe Velez

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