La venganza de Gabino Barrera

[The Vengeance of Gabino Barrera]

(Estudios América--Cinematográfica Filmex, 1967) Dir: René Cardona [Sr.]; Scr: Rafael García Travesí; Photo: Raúl Domínguez; Music: Enrico Cabiati; Prod Mgr: Jacobo Derechín; Co-Dir: Fernando Durán; Film Editor: Federico Landeros; Art Dir: Octavio Ocampo, José Menéndez; Camera Op: Roberto Jaramillo; Makeup: Graciela Muñoz; Sound Eng: Víctor Rojo; Re-rec: Heinrich Henkel; Union: STIC

CAST: Antonio Aguilar (Gabino Barrera), Jaime Fernández (Martín Contreras), Eleazar García "Chelelo" (Chelelo), Eric del Castillo (Luis Romero), Alejandro Reyna "Tío Plácido" (Plácido), Irma Serrano (Irma Serrano), Amedée Chabot (Joan Carson), Miguel Angel Alvarez (Pedro), Carlos Nieto?, Martha Dualt (Alicia), Ramón Bugarini (Carlos Espinosa), John Kelly (gringo), Manuel Dondé (rancher), Chuck Anderson (Mr. Jones), Pascual García Peña (Melitón), Alvaro Rosales, Marcos Contreras, Johnny Laboriel (Rosendo), Cornelio Reyna and Ramón Ayala "Los Relámpagos del norte," Wally Barrón (Matías), Guillermo Rivas (cantinero), Armando Acosta (bartender), Regino Herrera (campesino), Ramiro Orci (Ruco)

NOTES: In 1964, Antonio Aguilar appeared in Gabino Barrera and El hijo de Gabino Barrera; three years later, he made a final pair of films in this series, La venganza de Gabino Barrera and La captura de Gabino Barrera (shot back-to-back with the same crew and much the same cast). To be truthful, Aguilar played the "real" Gabino Barrera in the first film, and his son (also named Gabino, helpfully) in the latter three entries. La venganza... is an interesting film, probably the first time the Ku Klux Klan was depicted in Mexican cinema, although the racial aspects of the plot are downplayed.

Gabino Barrera is trying to track down Luis Romero, who killed Gabino's wife after escaping from prison. Romero also shoots and kills Martín, Gabino's friend. Gabino meets gringa reporter Joan Carson, who says she is doing a series of magazine articles on Mexican customs and folklore, and wants to interview Gabino about his famous father (who was the subject of a well-known corrido). Gabino's sidekicks Chelelo and Plácido are worried he might fall for the attractive blonde, while Mexican singer Irma Serrano is jealous. In fact, after Joan tells Gabino good night, Irma goes to Joan's hotel room and berates her: "What the devil do you know about the Alliance for Progress or the Good Neighbor Policy? The Alliance for Progress [a U.S. foreign aid program] helps our countries but you come here to cause problems. And in place of promoting good relations between your country and mine, you come here to take our men!"

Pedro, a Puerto Rican, tells Gabino that Romero is smuggling minerals from Mexico to the U.S. to make explosives; Romero is part of "an extremist organization that tries to overthrow order in the United States. At the same time they proclaim the superiority of the white man, they hypocritically incite members of minority groups to provoke scandals...and the worst thing of all is that the authorities are blaming my brothers, the Puerto Ricans in New York."

Joan tells Gabino that she met Romero in Texas, and says she'll help them cross into the United States. However, Gabino and his friends are attacked as the cross the river, but are saved by the arrival of Pedro and two other Puerto Ricans. In Texas, Gabino meets a Mexican-American rancher and gringo Mr. Jones. They have heard of Romero and his hate-mongers.

Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan raid a small village in Mexico, but are driven off by Gabino and his friends. One of the Klansmen is shot, and Gabino recognizes him as one of the men who killed his wife, a year before. They track the Klan to a hidden mine, where light planes are being loaded with the explosive mineral. The Klan raids the ranch where Gabino is staying, and young Puerto Rican Rosendo is killed when he throws himself on a Klan bomb. Irma Serrano tells Gabino that Joan Carson is a spy for Romero. When Joan arrives, Gabino pretends that he believes her story that she can lead him to Romero's hideout.

Gabino rides into Romero's trap, but is saved by the arrival of Chelelo, Plácido, Pedro and the local campesinos disguised as Klansmen. Romero tries to escape, but is blown up when Gabino shoots and hits the explosives in Romero's saddlebags. Joan manages to get away in one of the light planes.

Aside from some basic illogic (why is Romero smuggling an explosive mineral into the United States--isn't there enough dynamite there? Allegedly the explosives are being taken all the way to New York!), La venganza... is entertaining enough. The confrontations between Irma Serrano and Amedée Chabot are amusing, and the humor of Chelelo and Tío Plácido is not too intrusive (in one scene, the two comics climb into a tree to watch Chabot taking a bath in a stream). Among the rest of the cast, Eric del Castillo is basically wasted, Jaime Fernández appears only briefly (he and Martha Duhalt are carried over from El hijo del Gabino Barrera in 1964), and Irma Serrano is her usual flashy self, albeit with rather limited screen time. Miguel Angel Alvarez (also called "El Men") was a Puerto Rican actor who--as strange as it seems, given roles like this one and his part in Pacto Diabólico--was originally a comedian. Johnny Laboriel, the son of black actor Juan José Laboriel, was a pop singer (originally with Los Rebeldes del Rock) who acted in a few films as well.

Posted 31 May 99 by dw45@umail.umd.edu