Way of a Gaucho Film Details
Overview: In 1875 Argentina, after killing a man, a gaucho is sentenced to harsh army duty but he deserts the army and becomes a bandit leader.
Tagline: Surging with the fury and romance of the Argentine Pampas!
Review: The story is that Fox studios had earned some money in Argentina, and the Peron government wouldn’t let them take it out of the country. Thus, they came up with this book-based script, closely monitored by the Peron government, shot in various parts of Argentina, utilizing Argentine actors for subsidiary roles and mostly Hollywood actors for the major roles, of which I identify 5. Martin(Roy Calhoun), the lead rebellious gaucho, who resists the soon-to-be transformation of the pampas from an open range, roadless, railless, vast sea of grass into fenced haciendas, traversed by occasional roads and railways and ‘city’ ideas of formal law, rather than the traditional informal gaucho tradition of each man serving out his own idea of justice for perceived transgressions against him, with the approval of his comrades or patron. Miguel(Hugh Marlowe) was raised with Martin, although not his biological brother, and has since become an important government official, as well as now the owner of his recently deceased father’s large cattle empire. He tries to reason with Martin that he cannot long hold back the encroachment of civilization into his life, and tries to protect Martin from the severe consequences of his rebellion against ‘the system’. Eventually, he would pay with his life in trying to aid Martin in escaping from his recapture as a(twice) army deserter. Teresa(Gene Tierney)is an elegant gorgeous ethereal city girl, who is invited to spend a vacation at Miguel’s hacienda, foolishly goes horseback riding alone in the pampas, is abducted by Indians, serendipitously rescued by the fleeing deserter Martin, and eventually becomes his lover and wife. She sympathizes with Martin’s lament of the impending changes to his lifestyle, and feels guilty that he twice was recaptured because of putting her wellbeing above his own escape plans. Gene’s acting is quite wooden, as usual. Major Salinas(Richard Boone) is the main antagonist, being Martin’s commanding officer during his two brief stints in the army, as punishment for killing another gaucho in a knife fight instigated by the deceased. Miguel engineered the transfer of Martin from jail, awaiting execution, to the army. However, he should have known that Martin would rebel against Salinas’s determination to remake him into an obedient soldier. Salinas sensed that Martin would make a superior soldier if he could change his attitude. This proved impossible, as Martin badly slashed Salinas’s arm in his second desertion attempt, necessitating its amputation. As a result of this injury, Salinas was retired from the army, becoming police commissioner for this region, thus enabling him to resume his hunt for the fleeing Martin. Father Fernandez(Enrique Chaico) is the final main character. He serves as Teresa’s protector while Martin is running from the Salinas-led police posse, having known Martin since he was a boy. Later, after Miguel is killed in a cattle stampede, he brokers the deal previously arranged between Miguel and the governor where Martin surrenders to Salinas, to serve a 3 year jail sentence for all his several serious transgressions, after finally being married to Teresa by the Father. Yes, Martin was very very lucky to get off so lightly, thanks to Miguel’s unflagging devotion to using his political influence to counter Martin’s transgressions. Very interestingly, as a late teen, Roy Calhoun spent 3 years in a federal reformatory, for various robberies. This is the same amount of prison time Martin is given at story’s end! I thought Calhoun was OK as the main character, being tall and handsome, although I would have preferred Burt Lancaster. After his second army desertion, Martin reinvents himself as Val Verde(green valley), leader of a sizable gang of gauchos bent on sabotaging efforts to build a railway into the pampas. Later, they capture Salinas, pursuing Martin. Martin decides to spare his life, saying he is more of a man than any of them. Probably, also he didn’t want another murder charge. Thus, the grudging respect of the two, officially with opposite goals, but reluctant to kill the other. Rather reminds me of the relationship between the Boone and Scott characters in “The Tall T”. We get a sampling of various ecological regions of Argentina , from the flat wet Pampas grasslands nearest the coast, to progressively drier lands, often hilly or mountainous, to the west, and finally to the mighty Andes, which Martin and Teresa attempt to cross to anticipated freedom in Chile. However, Martin decides they must turn back, as Teresa faints, probably from a combination of fatigue, her pregnancy, and altitude sickness. One of the few light sequences in the film occurs when Martin and Teresa spend a couple days riding back to the hacienda after Martin rescued her. Gene looks beautiful and seductive, with her torn blouse, reveling in the picturesque pampas wilderness. We see a couple of fleeing rheas and their egg, which Martin locates. Before the introduction of cattle and sheep, rheas largely ruled the pampas, and were the main food of the Native Americans. During this period, the army went on rhea extermination campaigns, similar to the bison extermination policy of the US government, as part of its Native American subjugation program. Check out the later “Savage Pampas”, which deals with the same basic subject, although mostly filmed in Spain.
Country: United States
Duration: 93 min
Genre: Action, Adventure, Romance
Also known as: Gaucho’en,El camino del gaucho,Way of a Gaucho,König der Gauchos,En gauchos kamp,O Gaúcho,Il grande gaucho,Martín, el gaucho,Le gaucho,Gauchon,Tradiţia unui Gaucho,Kanunsuz yol,Gauchojen kuningas,Agapisa enan drapeti