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  • This film may no longer exist in the two-tone color process(Hirlicolor)as originally issued in 1936, however it does exist in black/white in 16mm format. The story line is curiously similar in parts to GAY DESPERADO filmed/released also in 1936. Ann Miller is fleetingly seen as a dancer. The film pushes the envelope with the portrayal of two gay characters: Jean Chatburn as Lily Damita's butch secretary and writer Tiffany Thayer perhaps just acting his natural sissy self. The movie progresses like a 'B" Western with a speedy plot resolution after a fairly enjoyable 72 minutes. Crane Wilbur's direction, story and screenplay all reflect his curiously bizarre and uneven talent.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have a poster for this film which touts it as in "full glorious colour". The copy I have is in black and white. There is the odd fragment missing, and some of the dialogue is a little out of synch. Otherwise, if this be the only copy around, there is no point in complaining.

    Diane (pronounced dee-ANN) Corday (Damita) is a Hollywood star visiting the fictitious Meso-American country of Alturas. Pancho (Del Campo) is a bandit who is a huge fan of hers - so huge that during kissing scenes involving Diane while watching the film, he will - Elvis style - take out a pistol and shoot at the screen. He and his muchachos surround a train carrying Diane. A journalist aboard thinks it would be good publicity for Diane if she were kidnapped by bandits. The kidnapping happens for real,and Damita and her entourage are taken to Pancho's hacienda. There is some singing and dancing before the principal characters pair off with the right people.

    My own opinion is that this is a B movie that was out of style in 1936 let alone now. The direction is patchy, and the production lacks the sheer professionalism of the big studios And, although there are some good performers in the cast, they struggle with a poor script. The train conductor's cap and Damita's vocal flourishes are one of the few things to raise a laugh in this so-called comedy. The settings are very claustrophobic. The only solo singer in the film (Del Campo) has a superb singing voice, and the music is quite good, as is the dancing. Del Campo and Damita get to cut a short but impressive caper.

    I'm not certain, but if my memory serves me correctly, there was a Spanish language version of this film, and I think practically the entire cast were changed for that, even though many of them - Damita certainly - could speak excellent Spanish. I am pretty sure that the film was set in a fictitious country to keep on the right side of the Mexican government who had (rightly in my opinion) complained that Mexicans in Hollywood films were nearly always portrayed as villains. The film features uniformed mounted police called "federals." ("Hey, Gringo! What is wrong with los federales?")This is more evidence of Mexican government appeasement.

    The film is perfectly watchable, even if it is almost certainly the second worst film featuring Damita. (Brewster's Millions must be the worst.)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For an early Western, this one has a lot going on. There's action, adventure, romance, and probably enough song and dance numbers to qualify as a musical. I don't think I've seen one before where the basic premise involves a staged kidnapping in order to drum up publicity for a touring movie star (Lili Damita as Diane Corday). It sounds like it could have been a Gene Autry theme, so maybe there's another one out there that I'll have to wait for to pop up.

    There's also a fair amount of comedy too, with some clever retorts like the one in my summary line. That one came from secondary character Jane Evans (Jean Chatburn), an aide to Miss Corday who when she let her hair down, was actually the best looking female in the picture. She's also on the receiving end of a line from Juan Torres (Juan Torrena), who gives her pair of slacks away while she's taking a swim - "Your pants, from now on you'll do without them"! Hmm, I think old Juan might have had more on his mind.

    I haven't mentioned yet that all this takes place in a fictional country that sounded something like Alturiz, but certainly a Mexican knockoff if there ever was one. Miss Corday finds herself in the middle of a romantic triangle involving her manager Gary Owen (Fred Keating), and the likable bandit Pancho Granero (Del Campo). Pancho's intentions are real regarding the actress, romancing her with love songs and sweet talk, and you get the feeling things might go his way at times. I was curious throughout why the real fiancée Owen never seemed to mind, although there was one very quick altercation between himself and Pancho. But they were buddy buddy immediately afterward. That angle was the most obvious head scratcher of the picture.

    There is a particular segment that's noteworthy, the Fiesta scene that included the most amazing costuming that fairly screamed for color. It was a well executed production number with lively song and dance that was probably the highlight of the picture. Soon after, the federales made their appearance to rescue Miss Corday, but that was all worked out without any fuss or bother. Owen got the girl, and the Robin Hood of Alturiz was left to consider all the rest of the pretty senoritas of the hacienda.
  • This is a strange movie. Most of the cast members speak English with Spanish or French accents, there is a crypto-Lesbian, a crypto-Gay man, some serious senorita knife throwing (by the delightful Guatemalan dancer Blanca Vischer, whose line delivery is so astoundingly lame it is almost cult-worthy), a bizarre Samba-esque ancient fiesta dance to the Moon (totally wacko), some glorious shots of a nice Mexican steam locomotive, an incredible singing performance by the remarkable Del Campo (WHAT A VOICE!), and more cute double-entendres than you can shake a stick at. (He: "My love for you is like a rushing river that can't be stopped!" She: "I'll dam it.").

    Oh, and the lead horse -- Del Campo's horse -- my god, what a beautiful animal. He's a tall black Arabian-style guy. A stupendous horse. There's a nice dun too, and a blaze-faced horse who doubles first as a bandito pony and later as an Army mount. Really, for horse fans, this movie is a treat because these animals are not from the usual Hollywood remuda -- these are some fine Mexican horses, well bred, well caparisoned, and very well ridden. If that black Arabian had been in America, he'd have been some Western star's steady ride very soon. As it is, this may be his only starring film. Kinda like Blanca Vischer.
  • A retired rebel breaks his government exile in order to meet a visiting Hollywood starlet. He's then talked into abducting her by her publicity-hungry manager (It doesn't take much convincing.) and brought to his hacienda. The charismatic rebel spends the next couple of days attempting to charm her, while competing with a coffee heir and contending with a jealous senorita.

    A mildly entertaining, lightweight romantic comedy, this has a few risqué moments (for 1936 anyway) and flirts around with the idea of one character possibly being a lesbian! There's also a a few interesting songs, that before long change into dance numbers as well, threatening to turn the film into a full-on musical.

    A frothy adventure, it would have benefited from some name stars.
  • Movie star Lili Damita is making a publicity tour of a Latin American country, in the company of her would-be fiance, coffee magnate Fred Keating, and suite. Local politician Francisco Flores del Campo, exiled to the countryside by the military government, rides to the train to serenade Miss Damita. Publicists Tiffany Thayer and Jean Chatburn think it would be a great story if "local bandit kidnaps movie star" and everyone agrees, so it's off to del Campo's hacienda. While they're running through the usual sorting-out of couples, the generals decide this would be a great chance to get rid of this thorn in their side. It's also a musical, with half a dozen operetta numbers.

    It's a great idea for a comedy, but the situations are resolved too easily, few of the jokes are sharp enough -- although Miss Chatham gets a nice one, when she says "Of course I dream of love. Pass the ketchup" -- and the silliness never gets off the simmering stage. Writer-director Crane Wilbur's script isn't sharp enough to make me laugh; when I watched it, I kept thinking of gags that would make it better, and that's a bad sign. Of course, Miss Damita and Mr. del Campo were not working in their native languages, and that makes jokes more difficult, but the humor never gets much better than Miss Chatburn taking off her glasses to become beautiful.
  • Apart from the novelty of seeing one of Errol Flynn's wives, Lila Damita, in this film, I can't really think of any conceivable reason to see "The Devil on Horseback". It's ample proof that even a big studio (in this case First National—a division of Warner Brothers) can make a really bad B-movie—one even worse than most tiny studio offerings.

    The film is set in Mexico. Fred Keating plays an annoyingly studio Mexican bandit—and plays him with all the subtlety of the Frito Bandito! He is truly a caricature of such a person and his simple-minded ways and style really are NOT a credit to the way Hollywood once treated minorities! A grinning idiot who LOVES to sing, that's Keating in this one. The guy is apparently in love with an American film actress (Damita) and insists on going into town to see her—even though he's been banished. The plot doesn't get any deeper than that and it's full of the sort of songs Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy sang—though much worse! So, you've got a dopey plot, lots of operatic singing, REALLY BAD acting, a racially insensitive portrait of our friends to the South and a plot that even a chimp could only do better! The bottom line is that this is a painful and boring film—one that, even if it IS in the public domain, isn't worth your time. Quite bad, I assure you.