After Warner Baxter relinquished the role of the Cisco Kid after winning an Oscar for his first and making two subsequent films, Fox contract player Cesar Romero was signed to play the role. The Cisco Kid and the Lady was the first time Romero assumed the character, and he’s immediately at ease playing the dashing Portuguese bandito of the Old West. He would continue in the part for five more films before Fox let the rights lapse and it went to another studio with another star in the lead.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 13 Min.
Package Includes: DVDAmray case
Disc Type: DVD-R
Release Date: 08/12/2013
The Cisco Kid (Cesar Romero) and his pal Gordito (Chris-Pin Martin) see a man shot on the prairie carrying a baby in his wagon. Though they don’t know that crooked Jim Harbison (Robert Barrat) was behind the murder, the three arrive as the man is dying splitting a map to a gold mine into three parts and giving each of them a piece making them swear to use part of their shares to care for the infant he’ll be leaving behind. Cisco takes both the discovery of the gold and the care of the infant seriously. He deposits the child with lovely schoolmarm Julie Lawson (Marjorie Weaver) and makes a pact with the wily Harbinson to work together to find the gold mine. But Cisco is smart enough to realize Harbinson isn’t to be trusted, and he initiates a series of tricks to keep Harbinson at bay while he works with saloon girl Billie Graham (Virginia Field) to attempt to get Harbinson’s piece of the map and learn the mine’s location ahead of him and his gang.
The Production Rating: 3/5
The screenplay by Frances Hyland juggles a few too many balls in the air for so airy a western adventure. There’s a tedious subplot with the school teacher’s fiancé played by George Montgomery that wears on the nerves, and Cisco’s romancing of both Julie and Billie causes friction between the two women and a betrayal from one of them that lands Cisco in jail. Cisco’s ability to remain a step ahead of his foes is always entertaining, and the film even stops for a bit to allow Cesar Romero to display some nifty rumba footwork with Virginia Field’s Billie (Romero was well-known to be Hollywood’s best ballroom dancer and a frequent escort for all of Tinsel Town’s top female stars who wanted to go nightclubbing). As entertaining as the dance is, director Herbert I. Leeds who had also helmed Baxter’s last Cisco Kid film doesn’t move things along as niftily as director Otto Brower would do in the following installment of the series, and things tend to drag at times with the film’s denouement being rather a mess (though it does explain why Cisco’s grave marker is present at the beginning of The Gay Caballero).
Cesar Romero makes a very positive impression as the Cisco Kid. He’s genial and kind with a brash, playful streak that sometimes gets him in trouble. Chris-Pin Martin is the effective comic relief as his slower-witted, sometimes bungling accomplice. Both ladies Marjorie Weaver and Virginia Field acquit themselves well in their roles though George Montgomery gives a ham-fisted performance as a drunk in one of his scenes and is rather forgettable otherwise. Robert Barrat is a more subtle villain than is usual in this kind of film. Look fast to see Ward Bond as a drunk who’s the target of Miss Billie’s rage early in the film.
The film’s theatrical 1.37:1 aspect ratio is faithfully delivered here, but this is not one of the better black and white transfers in the Fox Cinema Archives program. There are plenty of speckles all the way through, and contrast is a little lacking giving the black levels a dark gray look rather than an inky black. The entire transfer seems a touch too dark so that the image never sparkles but instead looks a little dull. The reel change indicators are all in place, too. The film has been divided into chapters every ten minutes so there are 8 chapters present.
Video Rating: 3/5 3D Rating: NA
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. The volume level has been set too high and will require user modification to prevent distortion. The sound mix is very trebly with very little on the low end at all. There is also constant hiss and some hum that comes and goes. Dialogue is certainly discernible, and the music score and sound effects don’t get in the way of the dialogue even if fidelity is quite lacking.
Audio Rating: 2/5
There are no bonus feature on this MOD release.
Special Features Rating: 0/5
The Cisco Kid and the Lady is not Cisco’s finest hour on the screen, but it’s an entertaining enough western with an engaging performance from the (then) newest actor to take the role. The Cinema Archive release is nothing to write home about (The Gay Caballero is almost high definition in look and sound in comparison), but fans of the series will certainly want to add it to their collections.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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