skip navigation


TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (0)


powered by AFI

After freeing peasant prisoners, Mexican bandito and playboy Francisco Pancho Villa and his rebels go to Chihuahua City to celebrate at the White Lady Cabaret, where American singer Julie North charms Villa. Before he is forced to flee approaching federal police, Villa asks Julie to perform in San Pablo, where he and his rebels are stationed. Julie coyly replies that she knows Villa is a rebel whose pockets are filled with stolen gold, but Villa laughingly reminds her he has enough to share. Later, federal police warn mail carrier Posado that Villa would kill him for his last peso, but when Posado, who regards Villa as a friend, meets Villa on the trail, he tells him that a train shipment of gold is arriving nearby the following morning. After giving Posado gold for his help, Villa jokingly warns him that the mountains "are full of banditos." The next day during the train robbery, Villa finds American arms trafficker Bill Harmon among the passengers. Bill explains that he is a prisoner accompanied by a police guard, who then pulls a gun on Villa. Bill hits the guard, whom Villa's men then kill. In gratitude, Villa allows the American to accompany them as they escape. Although federal police give chase, they are forced to end their pursuit when the banditos cross into the mountain territory, Villa's stronghold where police fear to tread. Arriving at the San Pablo canteen, Villa complains about Mexican singer Manuela's off-key voice and orders Bill to bring Julie to him. Villa then remarks that, despite her lack of talent, Manuela is attractive and decides to marry her, but insists they have their honeymoon first. Villa's chief henchman López gives him a bag of gold as the "marriage settlement" which he hands to an eager Manuela. While a flamenco dancer entertains the crowd, the elderly Juan Garcia, a servant from Villa's family hacienda, announces that Villa's mother is dying. After Villa and bandito Cabo leave for the hacienda, López, suspecting Juan Garcia of lying, holds his feet over hot coals until the old man admits that fifty federal police are guarding the home. While López and others rush to warn them, Villa and Cabo realize they are headed for a trap when they find the roads to the town empty. Villa's sister Marianna finds them at her and Villa's childhood hideout and tells Villa their mother has already died. Surrounded by federal police, Villa and Cabo retreat just as López and his men engage the police in a shootout. Meanwhile, Bill arrives at the White Lady at the same time as Julie's flirtatious song prompts a brawl between the ranchers. Bill joins the brawl, and after winning the fight, Julie invites him to her dressing room where they reminisce about their affair in St. Louis five years earlier. Julie then accepts Villa's offer in hopes of resuming her relationship with Bill and returns with him to San Pablo accompanied by her young orphan friend Pajarito. That night, after she sings a crowd-pleasing number at the canteen, Julie joins Villa and Bill. When Villa expresses a desire to marry Julie, Bill reminds Villa he was married last week, but Villa is nonchalant about having several wives. In a moment alone with Julie, Bill suggests that stolen pesos are buying her love, prompting the singer to slap him. Days later, businessman Don Alfonso orders the colonel to lead his men against Villa and his rebels, suggesting that the army kill villagers in the lowlands to lure Villa out of hiding to rescue them. Meanwhile, Don Octavio, a Mexican officer who is Alfonso's son, corners Marianna and rapes her. Despite the horrendous news that the Mexican army is burning small villages, Villa knows he cannot save the peasants with merely twenty-five men and decides instead to seek revenge by raiding the wealthy haciendas which have been left unguarded by the federal police. After Villa and his men leave San Pablo, Julie asks Bill why he left her in St. Louis. Bill maintains that he is a "nobody," not worthy of her attention and fearful that they cannot risk angering Villa. At the first raid, Villa kills Alfonso, who was once his master, and forces Octavio to marry his sister at gunpoint. After announcing that his sister's honor is restored, Villa orders Octavio to dig his own grave after which López kills him. Soon more men join Villa's army, while back in San Pablo, Julie and Bill rekindle their love and make plans to flee together. Learning of revolutionary leader Francisco Madero, Villa seeks the rebel's hideout and offers his help, but the well-educated Madero accuses him of stealing and womanizing. Villa claims that the gold he gives the peasants makes them feel more like men instead of slaves. Madero asks, "Does the gold make them free?" but Villa offers to join forces with Madero to overthrow the government and bring justice to the peasants. Julie and Pajarito join Villa as he rides to Castillo, the captain of Madero's army, who fearfully relinquishes his post to Villa after the latter suggests a duel to decide who will lead. That night at camp, Bill promises Julie that they will flee when the rebels battle for a key railway center the next day. In the morning, as Villa's forces face the Mexican army's automatic weapons during the raid, Julie and Bill hear the repeated gunfire and realize Villa is being slaughtered. Despite Julie's pleas, Bill returns to Villa, who sends Bill and dozens of his men to scale the town's walls and wait in hiding until Villa's forces confront the army on horseback. When the army retaliates, Villa's secret forces ambush them from behind. The rebels are victorious, although Bill is wounded and dozens of men are killed. After Villa condemns the cowards among his men to be shot, the now celebrated leader and general orders his men to take Julie and Bill to the border, suggesting that he can find a woman other than Julie. Seeing the couple off, Villa vows to fight more battles in the name of the Mexican people.