The Mexican Filibusters (1911)

Artículo y fotografía publicados en el periódico The Bioscope el 23 de marzo de 1911:

“THE MEXICAN FILIBUSTERS.” A Stirring Kalem Mexican Drama.

As was announced in last week’s issue of THE BIOSCOPE, Messrs. Markt and Co., the sole agents for Kalem films are releasing a special film, entitled “The Mexican Filibusters,” acted by Kalem stock company upon the spot. The theme chosen has been based upon the insurgent uprising in some of the Northern States of Mexico, and the incident featured is the smuggling of arms and ammunition across the Mexican border to the insurgent forces. A pretty love episode has been worked in the story, which has been produced with all the well-known, careful treatment of the Kalem Company’s production.

Oliverez, a supposed representative of the Mexican-American Fruit Company, is the agent of the insurgents. He occupies an office in a Texas town not far from the border-line, and with hin are Monte, his clerk, and Pedro, who is in love with Oliverez daughter, Blanca. A message is received, advising Oliverez that the insurgents will be ready to receive the contraband goods at a certain place along the railway line. Pedro goes off to assist in loading the freight cars, and Monte is told off to assist him, but refuses to help. When Oliverez arrives on the scene, he rebukes Monte for loafing, who, angered at the agent’s tone, quietly slips away, with the intention of informing the secret service agents of the shipment. But Blanca notices Monte’s actions, and follows him, discovering his treachery in time to tell her father, and get the train away before the detectives can stop it. Pedro decides to go with the train and see the stuff through, and is joined by Blanca. Foiled in their first attempt, the service men determine to stop the train en route. But Pedro and Blanca are too shrewd for them. Locking the detectives in the car, they climb over the train down to the tender, and compel the engine driver to ignore the orders of the border patrol to stop. Then they climb over the top of the coach to the freight car, and cut it off at the place where the insurgents are waiting for them. Pedro succeeds in delivering the ammunition and guns before the detectives arrive on horseback. Then, in answer to their questions, he points to a train of pack mules crawling slowly over the mountain pass in the distance, clearly out of reach. Meanwhile, Oliverez has also followed the expedition in his motor-car, and arrives in time to witness the complete discomfiture of the service men. So delighted is he with the complete success of his plan, and the daring and initiative displayed by Pedro, that he is only too glad to accept Pedro as his son-in-law.

Fotograma: The Bioscope, marzo 23, 1911, p. 45

The Moving Picture World del 18 de marzo de 1911 (Vol. VIII, No. 8, p. 602) publicó una breve sinopsis de la cinta:

“Mexican Filibusters” (Kalem).—A picture representing scenes in the late Mexican uprising. It is built around an attempt to run arms and other contraband across the border. Love and jealousy fill an important part in the play. The heroine, to help the man she loves, undertakes a very perilous bit of work in uncoupling the car containing the contraband and getting it across the border. The picture is somewhat melodramatic, but, nevertheless, holds the attention of the audience. It attracts more than ordinary attention because it depicts possible scenes in a disturbance actually in progress.

Emilio García Riera en México visto por el cine extranjero, vol. 2, nos proporciona la siguiente ficha filmográfica:

The Mexican Filibusters. P: EU (Kalem) 1911. 1 rollo. En Texas, Pedro, joven trabajador de la Mexican-American Fruit Co., se enamora de Blanca, hija de Olivérez, agente de la misma empresa. Con fervor patriótico, todos deciden enviar armas a los insurrectos mexicanos en vagones, a través de la frontera. Olivérez amenaza a un tal Monte porque no ayuda a cargar los vagones. En vista de eso, Monte denuncia los envíos al servicio secreto norteamericano. Pese al desprecio que Monte les merece, los del servicio secreto se ven obligados a actuar, pero Blanca se da cuenta de todo y asegura el envío de las armas separando los vagones que las contienen del tren.

El mismo autor, pero en el volumen 1 de su obra menciona que:

…[a]bundaron entre 1911 y 1914 las cintas norteamericanas que se pretendieron benévolas con los revolucionarios mexicanos, como The Clod, The Mexican Filibusters y The Mexican Joan of Arc en 1911, The Mexican Revolutionist y The Revolutionist en 1912, A Girl Spy in Mexico y A Mexican Tragedy en 1913 y The Eternal Duel en 1914.

Margarita de Orellana en su obra La mirada circular. El cine norteamericano de la Revolución mexicana 1911-1917 toma la información de The Moving Picture World, vol. VIII, núm. 9, marzo 4, 1911, p. 491:

La historia se inicia en una junta en Texas, presidida por el señor Olivérez que se hace pasar por representante de la Mexican-American Fruit Co. Uno de los integrantes de la junta, Pedro, está enamorado de la hija de Olivérez, Blanca. La junta decide mandar armas a los insurgentes mexicanos del otro lado de la frontera. Con fervor patrio los hombres de la junta aparecen cargando un furgón de tren con cajas de armas. Sin embargo, Olivérez se percata de que uno de sus hombres, Monte, no trabaja y lo amenaza. Esto despierta el espíritu vengativo de Monte, quien va a denunciar el contrabando con las autoridades norteamericanas. A pesar de que ven con desprecio a este traidor las autoridades se ven obligadas a actuar. Monte no se dio cuenta de que Blanca lo había visto entrar a la oficina del Servicio Secreto Norteamericano justo a tiempo para dar aviso a los mexicanos. Los estadounidenses llegaron a la estación en el momento en que el tren partió.

Concluye Margarita de Orellana en la misma obra (p. 146-147) que:

[d]esde que se inició la Revolución los rebeldes compraban armas a Estados Unidos. Cuando Madero sube al poder el gobierno norteamericano prohíbe la exportación de armas, excepto al nuevo gobierno, pero, cuando Woodrow Wilson es electo presidente de Estados Unidos e interviene en los asuntos de México a raíz del asesinato de Madero y la actitud intransigente de Huerta, prohíbe la exportación de armas a todas las facciones de la Revolución. El contrabando de armas no cesó y en algunas ocasiones era tolerado cuando se trataba de los enemigos de Huerta: los constitucionalistas. Wilson quería la caída de Huerta a toda costa. Tolerar el contrabando era una forma indirecta de apoyar a los ejércitos que luego derrocarían al dictador.

Es claro que aun en el cine la tolerancia ante el contrabando era justificada como un acto de patriotismo. Lo que sí se condenaba  era la traición de un mexicano contra los suyos, tema que apareció con frecuencia en el cine norteamericano, no sólo en las películas sobre la Revolución Mexicana sino en filmes que trataban otros temas donde estaban implicados los mexicanos.

La película ocasionó que el gobierno mexicano pidiera se evitara filmar cintas con temática revolucionaria por no estar de acuerdo con la forma en que la industria cinematográfica norteamericana presentaba la revolución segun consta en una nota de The Moving Picture World de 1 de abril de 1911 (Vol. VIII, No. 13, p. 704):

Local Producers Censorship? — The recent Kalem film, “The Filibusters,” has stirred up a local hornets’ nest. The film was a forerunner of a series planned of the Mexican Revolution. Objections to the film have been pouring into the district attorney’s office ever since its release. Most of the objections, it is hinted, have come through the influence of the Mexican Consul. Another rumor is to the effect that the district attorney is acting upon secret orders from Washington to discourage the making of films having for a subject the Mexican Revolution on the ground that the film stories are seditious to the interests of the Mexican government.

The International Labor Agency, at 419 North Main Street, had twenty-five Mexicans at Glendale last week posing for the Kalem Company, and the Pathé Company at Santa Monica Canyon are said to be using a greater number in the production of war films. District Attorney Fredericks yesterday said that rigid censorship will be exercised on all moving picture films dealing with the Mexican Revolution.

Labor agencies have been requested to discontinue supplying men for this work. The writer saw the film in question and in it caw nothing objectionable and much that was commendable. In the first place there was no bloodshed and brutality as alleged. The story was unusual and interesting and very well acted and directed. At this writing the local government court officials and attorneys have taken no action in the matter. If objections are to be raised to such films, the objections should come from government officials, who are most concerned, and not from county officials, who are exceeding their authority in interfering with a legitimate industry the individuals composing which have broken no laws.

La cinta fue dirigida por Kenean Buel y en los papeles principales, Carlyle Blackwell como Pedro y Alice Joyce como Blanca. La película es parte de la colección 2011 National Film Preservation Foundation y forma parte del DVD titulado Treasures 5: The West 1898-1938.

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