An interesting 1846 California "western" pitting the protagonist Richard Barthelmess, playing a young Francisco Delfino (Pancho) later the outlaw El Puma, against unscrupulous American land grabbers. Pancho returns from studies in Mexico City to find California invaded by "gringos" who impose their culture and use every trick in the book to obtain the land that was once given to loyal families by the King of Spain. Pancho is welcomed home by his Uncle (Tio) Don Mariano Delfino, played by Robert Edeson, Pancho's beautiful sister Doña Dolores Delfino, played by Marian Nixon, and a childhood sweetheart Doña Rosita Garcia, played by Mary Astor.
Pancho travels north to deliver 3,000 cattle is treated as a second class citizen in his own native land. He reacts violently against the worst of the land commissioners and head man in Spanish Gulch, Peter Harkness, played by Fred Kohler, when Pancho dares to buy a drink for Harkness' favorite barmaid. Pancho is beaten with a belt but is saved by the sheriff, Captain David Howard, played by James Rennie.
After his beating, Pancho delivers the cattle to Harkness in the form of a stampede through the village of Spanish Gulch. Pancho takes the money Harkness was to deliver in payment and sets off on a life as El Puma, patterned on Robin Hood or Zorro, robbing from the gringos and giving the money to the Church to feed the poor. Captain Howard arrives at the Delfino ranch and falls in love with Dolores. He also explains the derivation of the word "gringo". The latter is supposed to be based upon words sung by US soldiers who carried a green flag into battle during the Mexican war of 1846-1848 "the green goes over the hill" implying carrying the flag up against opposition. I did not find that derivation listed in a Google search which is why I have included it here.
Pancho's uncle is shot by Harkness and in his dying breath; Tio Mariano tells his nephew that his efforts are turning more Americans against the native Californians. Pancho disbands his gang, shoots Harkness, and delivers the original land grant to Captain Howard for safekeeping. Pancho escapes overland to Mexico where he weds his beloved Rosita and sends a letter to Captain Howard and Dolores telling them there is nothing preventing them from being wed.
The plot is based on the story, "Adiós," by Lanier and Virginia Stivers Bartlett. It is not at all clear where the title comes from since Pancho is neither beaten by the lash or uses one in his escapades. The print shown on TCM is in poor quality but this interesting story with Americans as the "bad guys" is worth watching. Recommended.