A Mexican Legend de la casa Pathé tuvo poca promoción. Tres revistas cinematográficas dieron cuenta de ella: The Nickelodeon del 1 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. IV. No. 9, p. 257), The Moving Picture World del 12 de noviembre (Vol. VII, No. 20, p. 1127) y The Film Index del 12 de noviembre de 1910 (Vol. VI, No. 20, p. 20), pero publicaron la misma sinopsis donde es obvio que la compañía productora envío la información a todos los periódicos y revistas especializados.
A MEXICAN LEGEND (Pathé). It is noon at the old monastery of Vejas, which is situated in the heart of the wild country in northern Mexico and twelve miles from any habitation. The monks are returning from their labors in the garden to chapel. A band of Indians creep up through the long pampas grass, and as the monks come out from prayer, fall upon them and capture them. The aged Father Ignatius is dragged to the burial place and the heavy stone of a vault having been removed is dropped inside, the stone lid being replaced. The others are imprisoned in the chapel while the Indians sack the monastery and make merry with the Fathers’ well stocked cellar. The aged Father prays before a painting of Christ that is in the vault, and the figure comes to life, and leads him out of his living tomb. Father Ignatius sees the marauders dancing and debauching, and plods on his weary way to obtain assistance. He has to cross a river and Christ appears and directs him to a floating island on which he is quickly borne to the other side. Weary and weak, he endeavors to climb the mountain path, but his strength gives out and he falls exhausted. Again Christ appears, takes him by the hand and leads him over the mountain. Finally he reaches his destination, a hacienda. He tells his story and the Mexican boys are soon in their saddles and on their way to the monastery it is but the work of a few minutes to put the Indians to rout and release the imprisoned monks. Reverently they all turn and fall on their knees and give thanks to Him who gave the holy Father strength to obtain the help that was so badly needed.—1,033 feet. Released November 9.
Afortunadamente, The Film Index incluyó un par de fotogramas para acompañar la sinopsis. También la misma revista, pero en el ejemplar del 5 de noviembre publicó lo siguiente sobre la cinta:
The Mexican legend is founded upon a story of a colony of monks which was attacked by Indians, the abbe being brutally mistreated and cast alive into a stone tomb while the rest of the monks are held for torture. The tomb in which the abbe was cast chanced to be an entrance to a underground shrine where a figure of Christ had been painted in a niche cut in the living rock. The legend has it that this figure came to life and lead the abbe to a distant ranch house where aid was secured and the Indians are properly punished. The picture closes with a beautiful transformation scene of religious significance. The art of the picture maker is in evidence throughout this subject.
The Moving Picture World del 26 de noviembre (Vol. VII, No. 22, p. 1236) publicó una serie de comentarios donde descalifica la cinta por considerar que agrede la religión católica y aún sabiendo que las iglesias en México eran atacadas por indios, esto no justifica que se reproduzca en una película.
A Mexican Legend (Pathé).—Picturesque settings do much to rescue this film from oblivion. To see a figure purporting to be Christ appear three or four times is taking liberties with the most sacred tenets of a very large proportion of the people. The mixture of marauding and more or less drunken Indians is incongruous and unpleasant. Perhaps Indians did raid monasteries in Mexico, but even if they did there is no excuse for reproducing one of these raids in motion pictures. Scenically the film is attractive. Otherwise it is, well, another of the usual thing.
Dos cintas con idéntico título se produjeron en los años 1910 y 1911. Una producida por la Vitagraph y otra por la casa Pathé. Una de ellas, la producción Pathé, se escenifica en México; la de la Vitagraph se desarrolla en un país utópico de Sudamérica, pero con personajes muy mexicanos como se puede ver en el fotograma adjunto. Ambas consideran al norteamericano superior al mexicano. En la producción de la Vitagraph filmada en 1910, unos norteamericanos salvan de un linchamiento a un individuo en un país imaginario de Sudamérica; en la filmada por la casa Pathé en 1911, un norteamericano salva a su novia llevándola al otro lado de la frontera.
The Moving Picture World publicó sinopsis y anuncios de ambas cintas. De entrada la de la casa Vitagraph que se estrenó el 1 de julio de 1910. En The Moving Picture World del 2 de julio de 1910 (Vol. VII, No. 1, p. 34) se comenta su estreno junto con una comedia.
On Friday, July 1, “Saved by the Flag,” a South American drama with a thrilling plot and picturesque setting. On the same film “Wilson’s Wife’s Countenance” will make this day’s release a double-header, two in one, with a total length of 997 feet. “Wilson’s Wife’s Countenance” is a bright little comedy, with a big laugh and sharp satire.
Tambien en The Moving Picture World, pero en el ejemplar del 6 de julio de 1910 (Vol. VII, No. 3, p. 142) se publica una breve sinopsis de la cinta. Esta cinta, según el IMDb fue dirigida por Lawrence Trimble con las actuaciones de Ralph Ince y Edith Storey.
“Saved by the Flag” (Vitagraph).—A dramatic picture representing an episode in South America, where the Stars and Stripes prevent a mob, incited by an incensed discharged employee, from lynching an innocent man. There is something of a thrill in the fact that the flag is really as powerful. It is a phase which is not in evidence in this country, where its protection is a matter of course. The scenery representing South America appears to be reasonably accurate, and there is a spirit and a dash to the picture which makes it attractive and thrilling enough to make the pulses leap in sympathy with the story it tells.
En la revista The Nickelodeon del 1 de julio de 1910 (Vol. IV, No. 1, p. 21) aparece la siguiente sinopsis de la cinta producida por la Vitagraph:
SAVED BY THE FLAG. In the hot sun of South America the hands employed by Hampton, an American ship owner and planter, are lazily whiling away their time when the planter unexpectedly appears upon the scene and reprimands the foreman for neglecting his duty and not urging the men to get the cargo aboard the boat that she may start her voyage on scheduled time. The foreman answers back angrily and is at once discharged by the planter. Embitted and embarrassed, the foreman decides upon revenge, which is more fully aroused when he sees his swetheart talking to the planter, who seems to be attracted by the pretty Creole. While watching the loading of the vessel a messenger arrives and hands the planter a message from an old friend, Captain Gillet, of the United States cruiser, that he has just landed his steamship in port and will take dinner with him. The captain and the planter are seated in the latter’s garden, and while smoking and talking, Paola, the pretty Creole whom we saw in the first scene, passes by the house. The captain urges his friend to go speak to her, while he waits for his return. Hampton goes to her and they walk out in the grove some distance. The discharged foreman, with murder in his heart, is watching the lovers from behind a tree, and, unobserved, shoots the girl in the back. While the planter goes for help, the foreman rushes forward and throws the pistol beside the prostrate girl, then runs for the guards, with whom he returns and accuses the planter of having shot her, pointing to the pistol as evidence. The planter is arrested and put in jail. Paola is carried to her home and placed under the care of a nurse. The foreman spreads the news of the attempted murder by the American planter, and then arouses his countrymen to hatred and vengeanc against him. He then leads the mob to the jail, where they overcome the guards and take the American out to shoot him. Paola hears from her nurse of the plight of her lover. She insists upon getting out of her bed and going to his rescue. Sick and weak, with tottering steps, she hastens to tell Captain Gillet of Hampton’s danger. The capitain sends a messenger in all speed to the American consul, who gives orders to the captain to save the planter at all cost. With the American flag the consul jumps in his automobile and starts for the place where the mob are preparing to shoot their victim. The captain of the cruiser, with a company of marines, goes to the rescue, two able-bodied seamen carrying Paola. They arrive in time to place the flag across the breast of Hampton and defy the mob to shoot at their own peril. The crowd falls back in awe, and before they can recover themselves they are driven off by the captain and his men. Hampton is released and clasps Paola in his arms amid shouts of the boys in blue and white.—570 feet.
La cinta homónima filmada en 1911 por la Pathé se estrenó el 28 de octubre de 1911 y se publicó una sinopsis en The Moving Picture World del 21 de octubre de 1911 (Vol. X, No. 3, p. 232):
SAVED BY THE FLAG (Oct. 28).—In Mexico a lieutenant in the United States Army on leave meets a beautiful young girl, who is a particular friend of a Mexican general. By his winning ways he soon succeeds in gaming the young lady’s affection much to the chagrin of the general. Later he still further provokes the enmity of the Mexican general by compelling him to apologize for an insult to the American thug. Having fallen deeply in love with the young lady he so recently met, the lieutenant resigns from the army and takes no business in Mexico. Having done so the Mexican general is constantly on the alert for an opportunity lo revenge himself, and finally on a trumped up charge he sends a file of soldiers to arrest the American, who warned of their coming, mounts his horse with his bride and in a terrible ride makes for the frontier. The soldiers pursue him hotly, but when almost in the clutches of the Mexicans and his young wife dash across the frontier and tearing the American flag from the staff at the Custom House, wrap themselves in it and defy the representatives of Mexico.
También en The Moving Picture World del 11 de noviembre de 1911 (Vol. X, No. 6, p. 470) apareció una breve nota sobre la cinta:
Saved by the Flag (Pathé), October 28. – A conventional love story with the scene laid in Mexico and a chase as its chief feature. A young American wins the affections of a girl from her Mexican lover, who is a general in the army. Later, on a false charge, he sends a number of soldiers to arrest the American. He and his bride mount a carriage and ride furiously for the frontier, which they reach just in time to escape the soldiers. Seizing the American flag, they wrap themselves in it in a very spectacular way and defy the Mexican authorities to take them. There is a good deal of go in this chase.
Emilio García Riera comenta en el volumen I de su obra México visto por el cine extranjero sobre Saved by the Flag de 1911, que:
Lo que no decayó fue la manifestación de un patrioterismo norteamericano avivado por las turbulencias del vecino del sur y pródigo en banderas con barras y estrellas tan salvadoras a veces como indicativas, más adelante, de cierta impaciencia en la “espera vigilante”, pues si fueron ondeadas desde 1911 (Saved by the Flag, The Honor of the Flag), lo seguirían siendo en 1914 (Tony de Greaser). (p. 49)
Margarita de Orellana, por su parte, nos da una sinopsis de la película producida por la casa Pathé en su libro Lamirada circular, donde le adjudica erróneamente la producción a la Kalem y los datos de la ficha filmográfica que ofrece pertenecen a la producción Vitagraph:
Un teniente norteamericano que se encuentra en México se enamora de una joven que es novia de un general mexicano. Logra conquistar a la señorita, lo que molesta mucho al general. Más tarde los dos hombres tienen un altercado porque el mexicano insulta a la bandera norteamericana. El teniente decide dejar el ejército de su país por el amor de la joven y dedicarse a los negocios en México. El general mexicano, herido en su amor propio, busca vengarse. Decide arrestar al norteamericano pero éste ya está sobre aviso y huye con su novia hacia la frontera. Los mexicanos están a punto de atraparlos, pero al llegar a la frontera los novios arrancan la bandera norteamericana de la aduana, se envuelven en ella y desafían desde el otro lado a los mexicanos. (p. 182)
Curiosa la fotografía publicada en TheFilm Index que muestra a estos acróbatas mexicanos. Sobresalen las dos mujeres, miembros de la compañía. La vista The Mexican Tumblers (Los acróbatas mexicanos) fue producida por la Pathé en 1910. Este grupo de mexicanos no proviene de México y lo más probable es que sean oriundos de Estados Unidos y pertenezcan a la misma familia.
Esta troupe, que conforman ocho miembros y es conocida como la Compañía de Ramón García, ha ejecutado algunas notables hazañas para el beneficio de las audiencias afectas al cinematográfo. La película muestra la agilidad y energía de sus saltadores con asombroso efecto y probará ser un gran éxito.
En la revista Nickelodeon de 1 de diciembre de 1910 (Vol. IV, No. 11, p. 315) viene una muy breve descripción de la vista:
The Mexican Tumblers
An acrobatic film in which some remarkable feats exemplify the agility and sprightliness of the renowned Ramón García troupe. Released December 5.
Sin embargo en el Nickelodeon del 8 de diciembre (Vol. IV, No. 12, p. 335) se publica una descripción más detallada de las acrobacias del grupo:
The Mexican Tumblers (Pathé)
Here we see some spirited acrobatic work done by the Ramón García troupe. There are about ten of them, and each does some unusual stunt. The star performer is a young girl who allows herself to be tossed about in daring style. Some of the men turn cart-wheels so fast that the camera couldn’t keep up with them, the motion looking jerky in consequence. These acrobatic subjects please all classes, and make excellent fillers.
De la película On the Mexican Border (1910) transcribo dos breves recuentos de la cinta, así como dos anuncios de la Lubin Manufacturing Company, productora de la película. En el anuncio publicado en The Film Index se menciona su estreno para el 5 de diciembre de 1910.
Emilio García Riera hace un escueto comentario sobre la cinta en su obra México visto por el cine extranjero (Vol. 1, p.53):
Donde hay una lujuria desaforada, hay raptos y secuestros, y más en un cine primitivo que pasaba con gran rapidez de las intenciones a los hechos. Así, los mexicanos se dedicaron al acarreo violento de vírgenes espeluznadas o de esposas ajenas en The Pony Express (1907), The Greaser’s Gauntlet (1908), On the Mexican Border (1910), The Indian Scout Revenge (1910)…
En el volumen 2 de la misma obra se constata una brevísima ficha filmográfica:
On the Mexican Border. EU (Lubin) 1910. ¿1 rollo? Western. La hija de un ranchero es raptada por un malvado mexicano, pero su novio la rescata con ayuda de unos cowboys.
La siguiente nota esta tomada de The Nickelodeon (Vol. IV, No. 11, Dec. 1, 1910, p. 314):
On the Mexican Border (1910)
It all started when the transcontinental railroad decided to run a branch line up through the wild country right to the Mexican border. Phil Scott had charge of the survey and he met and fell in love with Bessie Davis, whose father was a small rancher. Bessie and her sister, Nell, often came to the survey line to watch the young engineer and they came under the notice of Pedro Ramirez, a Mexican whose reputation was decidedly evil. To Ramirez’s admiration for Bessie was added a desire to be revenged upon Phil, who had resented the Mexican’s insolence on more than one occasion. By abducting Bessie a double purpose would be served and Pedro sent his sister to tell Bessie that her sweetheart had been hurt and was calling for her. All unsuspecting, Bessie follows the girl and unhesitatingly enters the abandoned shack where Pedro is waiting for her. Bound, gagged and lashed to a beam Bessie is left alone to break her spirit while the plotters take themselves off. Meanwhile she had been missed and Nell finds Manuelita’s gaudy scarf that the girl in her haste forgot. This gives the clue and she and her father, together with Phil, start out in search. Nell goes in search of the Sheriff and the father to the round-up camp of Bar-B-Bar ranch while Phil follows Bessie’s tracks. He reaches the old cabin and his eye is attracted by a bit of white fluttering from a stove pipe hole. Bound as she was Bess was able to push the short length of pine from the hole and tearing a ruffle from her skirt, she waves it as a signal. In a moment Phil is inside the hut releasing his sweetheart and a moment later the boys come up and capture Pedro as he is returning to hi« victim. There is promise of short shrift but the Sheriff and his posse ride up in time to rescue the Mexican and lead him away to stand trial for his offense and the cowboys turned their attention to congratulating Bess and Phil.—Released December 5.
La anterior sinopsis también se publicó en The Moving Picture World del 10 de diciembre de 1910 (Vol. VII, No. 24, p. 1367).
A continuación la nota publicada en The Moving Picture World (Vol. VII, No. 25, Dec. 17, 1910, pp. 1416 & 1418):
“On the Mexican Border” (Lubin)
What may be termed a typical border drama, with the jealousy of a Mexican as the cause for a good deal of disturbance. A girl is carried away and tied to a post in a shanty, while her kidnapper goes out, expecting to come back and work his pleasure with her. She manages to tear a piece from her white skirt and waves it through the stove-pipe opening. She is rescued and her kidnapper is captured and would have been lynched but for the timely arrival of the sheriff. As has been pointed out before, the pictures representing girls carried away by ruffians should be kept out of every program. Such scenes are much too suggestive. Girls struggling with ruffians or carried away to their lairs smack too much of the former methods of carrying away women whenever they chose. The restraint which led the producers to turn the villain over to the sheriff instead of showing a lynching is to be commended. So much, at least, of the old type of bloodthirsty ruffianism has practically disappeared from the screen, to the great improvement of the pictures. If the carrying away of women and girls is suggested instead of shown producers will take another forward step.
Entre marzo y abril de 1911, tres publicaciones periódicas norteamericanas dedicadas al cine publicaron artículos o notas respecto a la censura en Estados Unidos impuesta a las “vistas” sobre la Revolución Mexicana en aquella nación. Los semanarios que publicaron información sobre este acontecimiento fueron The Nichelodeon (18 de marzo), TheMoving Pictures World (1 de abril) y Variety (15 de abril).
El primero, en escuetos dos párrafos justifica la censura en Los Ángeles dada la violencia que muestran las películas sobre la revolución, además la preocupación por los problemas que motive ver escenas de la revolución a los mexicanos residentes allá.
El segundo es el más largo y detallado, por llamarlo así, se concreta a la censura de la película Los Filibusteros y deja entrever que el consul mexicano está detrás de su intento de prohibir la película. Organismos sindicales contratan mexicanos para las películas sobre la revolución que se filman en Hollywood; hasta la ira del redactor contra la censura se deja ver.
El último y más escueto, coinciden el gobierno federal y el cónsul mexicano en que es recomendable evitar filmar películas sobre la revolución.
The Nickelodeon, Vol. V, No. 11, Mar. 18, 1911, p. 312:
Mexican War Films Censored
A report from Los Angeles states the district attorney is advocating a rigid censorship on moving pictures of the Mexican revolution scenes. Many of the film companies take picture here, and two have been quite busy of late at Glendale and the Santa Monica canyon, places which afford excellent scenery for war views. Through a labor agency they have engaged Mexicans as actors.
It is complained that scenes of cruelty and horror have been worked into many of the films. The district attorney takes the position that the presentation of such pictures might cause trouble among Mexicans in this country.
The Moving Picture World, Vol. 8, No. 13, Apr. 1, 1911, pp. 704-705:
Local Producers Censorship?
The recent Kalem film, “TheFilibusters,” 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 commendabe. 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.
Variety, Vol. XXII, No. 6, Apr. 15, 1911, p. 10:
No Revolution Pictures
It is doubtful if any pictures of the Mexican Revolution will be shown throughout the country, as a result of the United States government discouraging the making of films having the Revolution as a subject, and the Mexican Consul objecting to their exhibition.