Donegal Dan | Southwest United States | 10/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was a surprise to me and a pleasant one and I would actually rate it four and a half stars. While I have never read the book on which it is based, I found it a haunting and memorable work of art in itself. The figure of Ambrose Bierce, as played by Gregory Peck, is quite fascinating but unless you are familiar with the writer (and even if you are)you may find the characterization rather hard to comprehend. However, Peck's performance is strong enough to carry you along despite this and his interaction with the other two characters--the frustrated spinster, played beautifully by Fonda, and the volatile and sexy rebel general played equally well by Smits--is totally engrossing. The love triangle, which seemed more of a father-daughter-lover relationship, could have been fleshed out more but was still pretty riveting. However, the real pull of the film is the beauty of the cinematography in battle scenes, love scenes and interiors, equally; the passion and brutality of the revolutionaries and at the same time their humanity, and the connection between the rather wildly different three central characters based on that humanity and despite the brutality, all during an epic era in the history of Mexico. I have watched this film several times now and each time I find new reasons to admire it, not the least of which is that it is just a wonderful story about characters who are electric, vibrant and mesmerizing in their search for meaning in their lives. It is fast becoming one of my all-time favorites."
A visual and emotional feast
Donegal Dan | 02/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Because the events of the film occur during the revolution in Mexico, one might be tempted to think of Old Gringo as an action oriented war film. Not so. It is a visual and emotional feast, a slice-of-life film that truly makes you feel what it must have been like for an American woman in a foreign country. The trio of actors, Jimmy Smits, Jane Fonda and Gregory Peck, are outstanding. Be prepared to think and feel. This is a rich feast indeed."
The Hemisphere Turned Upside Down
David Brookbank | Ciudad Spokane, Washington | 05/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Old Gringo--an historically-based novel by Mexican diplomat, intellectual and author Carlos Fuentes--is a sensitive, complex, and ultimately satisfying portrayal of the Mexican people and a core period in their history. Not only is the acting intense and heartfelt, but also the hemisphere is turned upside down and one is allowed in for a moment to a world that trips to modern resort beaches can never access--the passionate, fascinating, suffering, poverty-stricken, and tempted-to-revolution nature of life in Latin America. For Fonda, herself a young revolutionary (disagree if you like) during the Vietnam War, and those like myself who have been to war-stricken lands like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and, yes, today's Mexico with its Zapatista movement in Chiapas, the passion of a people actively engaged in fundamental rhythms of everyday life and survival is inspiring beyond words. Each of the three principle characters--the young revolutionary general (Jimmy Smits), the spinster American school teacher (Jane Fonda) and the self-exiled American writer Ambrose Bierce (Gregory Peck)--are presented with a common dilemma, a dilemma presented to many of us of relative wealth and privilege (i.e., any American by comparison with our third world brothers and sisters) by the choice between our life of comfort and relative ease as compared with a life of sacrifice and commitment to a greater common good. The dilemmas are real, the passions are palpable, and a world turned upside down--like the upside-down map of the hemisphere on revolutionary General Poncho Villa's wall--is a wonder to behold. From the brutal "murder" of a horse to the beautiful and sensitive portrayals of the peasant people in the midst of revolution, this movie is an all-time favorite of mine. I am glad I have found out where to get it because at one time I had been told it was unavailable. It will now hold a spot on my shelf with a number of other signicant "main stream" pictures on Latin America, including Olmos's 1992 "American Me", Nava's 1983 "El Norte" and Oliver Stone's 1986 "Salvador"--pictures that had to be made but could only have been made by the right person in the right time. Puenzo as director with Fonda, Peck, and Smits were the right people coming together in the right place for this one."
The Old Gringo - Truth, Innocence and the Mexican Revolution
Anna M Aldrich | Ronald, WA USA | 03/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"El Gringo Viejo was a truly remarkable book. When I found that they had made a movie of it I was skeptical. How could a movie portray the characters in the book with any justice. I was plesantly surprised. Gregory Peck's portrayal of truth and it's death in the Mexican Revolution, Jane Fonda's portrayal of innocence and it's ultimate loss and Jimmy Smits portrayal of General Arroyo, a parallel for the idealistic beginnings, eventual corruption, and finally death of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, were a wonderful tribute to the book and it's author. It is a rare masterpiece.
It is a treasure that I would recommend to anyone."
"Few movies are better than the book that contains the history that inspires them. Old Gringo is an example. Carlos Fuentes wrote Gringo Viejo and in my opinion, this is his more successful work; but Fuentes is lazy and some chapters of his books are unconnected. Nevertheless, the movie has a perfect rhythm. Each personage has an extraordinary evolution during the whole film.
There cannot be the slightest doubt: Gregory Peck was the perfect actor for to be Ambrose Bierce. "