23 November 2002 | fisherforrest
It smacks of "the formula", but with variations.
Warner Baxter's second outing as "Cisco" finds him barely escaping death before a firing squad. Escaping with his two sidekicks he just chances to meet an attractive senorita whose father has been cheated by unscrupulous land grabbers. Sound familiar? Naturally Cisco falls in love at once and takes care of the baddies. But, the lady already has a boy friend whom she prefers to Cisco (if you can believe it). Cisco is not one to tolerate this. He devises a job that is sure suicide for the boyfriend, but changes his mind at the last minute, and rides off into the sunset without the senorita, only with the side kicks.
That's the story, but there are some goodies to set it a bit higher than the usual "formula" western. For one thing, the photography is beautiful. Director and camera man must have been in love with the Arizona scenery! Always assuming, of course, that it wasn't shot in Griffith Park. For another, the comedy which was usually so intrusive and unfunny in the usual oater is here subtle and actually very funny. For example, when sidekick Chris Pin Martin is ordered by one of the villains to help put out a fire, he "helps" by spitting on it! Although O. Henry might feel the film adventures of Cisco are a far cry from those in "The Caballero's Way", on which IN OLD ARIZONA (the first Cisco movie) was sort of based, there are some echoes of the Kid's treacherous way of dealing with what he perceives as treachery to himself. When he thought the senorita had "led him on", he devised that plan already mentioned to get rid of her boyfriend. Actually, Cisco was mistaken. The girl had never loved him, she had only been friendly because of his help to her father.
Baxter makes a believable mexican and Lynn Bari is a lovely lady. The sidekicks didn't have to "act" being mexicans. They were the real thing.
Now for some disillusionment, if you think the movie and TV "Cisco Kid" is anything like what O.Henry created in his short story. In the first place, "El Chivato" as the mexicans called him, was not a mexican himself. The Texas Rangers when discussing him said his name was "Goodall". He was a very small, dark man, who might have passed as mexican, and his haunt was the prickly pear infested border country between the Frio and Rio Grande Rivers. He had no side kicks, only a treacherous half mexican girl friend who deserted him, to her cost, for a handsome Texas Ranger. As for Cisco's character, he was a conscienceless killer, for pleasure as much as for any other reason. And he didn't care if the fight was fair or not. If you would like to know the vicious way he got even with his girl friend, read "The Caballero's Way". It's only about twelve pages, and it led to so much!