starring Douglas Fairbanks and Lupe Velez


March, 1928

I had a few uneasy moments at the beginning of this picture when it seemed that Doug Fairbanks had got religion rather badly and was determined to convert us all, in technicolor. But it was all right. It was just a legend that explained the story, and though Doug did get religion a little later on, he did it as quietly, quickly and inoffensively as we have ever seen it done. Don't let this saintly spirit keep you away from "The Gaucho," for it is merely lurking in the background and doesn't interfere in the least with all the knavery, bravery, love and excitement that you're looking for. Doug, with an amazingly slim waistline, is as acrobatic and impudent and ingenious as ever. It is a sort of South American "Robin Hood" story, full of stirring moments, and one, at least, that is the most hair-raising thing on the screen. Moreover, Lupe Velez, as Doug's little wildcat sweetheart, is great. It is all just about the best entertainment that I can suggest.

Starring Douglas Fairbanks and Lupe Velez
March, 1928

More than ever before, it is your solemn duty to see the latest Douglas Fairbanks picture. For beauty, intelligence, novelty, spirituality - and drama, too - it is one of the really significant ones. It is quite unlikely that the new year will bring forth any film which will even approach the particular niche occupied by "The Gaucho." It is less a fairy tale than "The Black Pirate," and, beautiful though the memorable "Thief of Bagdad" was, it has not the substance of the new picture.

First of all, a gaucho was a bandit of long ago who roamed the plains of the Argentine - a fearless, reckless fellow of Indian and Spanish blood whose sense of humor might have been Fairbanks' own, so well does it fit into the role.

A beautiful prologue in color shows the miracle whereby a little girl, while tending her father's sheep, is saved from death when she falls form a high ledge. A shrine is built, the afflicted are healed by the prayers of the child, and as the years pass, the City of he Miracles is built from the offerings of those who have been cured. The child, now a beautiful young woman, is known as The Girl of the Shrine." Ruiz, the usurper, sends his aide to capture the city, but The Gaucho, with a reward of ten thousand pesos on his head, determines to circumvent him. Of course he does. This is the major motivation of the story, with thrilling chases, a magnificent cattle stampede, and a minimum of acrobatics - but quite enough to keep Fairbanks in his supreme position. But there is much more to it than this. Religion and belief in prayer are strongly stressed in the partly barbaric and partly mystic tale.

When the Gaucho frees the prisoners in celebration of his victory of Ruiz, a leper is discovered among them. The Gaucho sentences him to do away with himself, saying he would do likewise if he were in a similar plight. This paves the way for a later moment of intense drama which occurs when The Gaucho's wounded hand is seized by the leper with diabolic intent. He then reminds the Gaucho of the sentence imposed on him. Desperately, The Gaucho is about to kill himself when the Girl of the Shrine gently reveals the power of prayer. They pray, and the Gaucho, plunging his hand in a spring, withdraws it healed.

Eva Southern is the girl of the Shrine, as beautiful a picture of calmly illumined spirituality as the screen has ever seen. But to Lupe Velez, a Mexican actress, falls a more colorful role, that of the Mountain Girl, a wayward gypsy wholly devastating in her provocative appeal. She has an electrifying screen presence and is a capital artist, as well. There is no telling how high the place she will achieve among the outstanding personalities in motion pictures, for the nimbus of greatness shimmers above her.

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