THE GAUCHO (1927)
Directed by F. Richard Jones
Featuring Douglas Fairbanks, Lupe Velez, Eve Southern
What it is: Swashbuckler
A holy shrine finds itself threatened from two sides. From one, it is being oppressed by the tyrannical Ruiz. On the other, it is the target of a roguish swashbuckling outlaw known as The Gaucho. But perhaps there is hope...
You know, this plot is so neatly and conveniently set up, it's hard to be surprised what happens. We have an innocent group of people being oppressed by the unambiguously evil yoke of political tyranny, a charismatic but self-serving anti-hero who opposes the oppressor, but is only prevented from being a full hero by the fact that he needs to be spiritually awakened, and a location in which the Virgin Mary inspires faith healing that is the ideal site for bringing about a spiritual awakening... if you don't know how this is going to play out, than you can't connect the dots. That's not to say it doesn't work; with the charismatic Douglas Fairbanks as the title character, you'll be having too much fun watching him in action to bother about the story. Furthermore, he's supported by Lupe Velez who plays his willful and appealing girlfriend, and who matches him and challenges him at every turn. If you haven't figured it out, the fantastic content consists of miracles (with the Virgin Mary mystically appearing several times). Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and the spectacle of some of the scenes is also truly appealing. You know, it may be a predictable cliche, but I don't think they really do make movies like this anymore.