Hey Pancho! Hey Judge Patrick Naugle!
The screen's most daring hero is back!
The Cisco Kid (Cesar Romero, Vera Cruz) is a good-natured outlaw with a rotund sidekick, Gordito (Chris-Pin Martin, The Ox-Bow Incident), who scour the countryside looking for targets to rob. When the Cisco Kid and Gordito come across a wagon with underground miner Drake (J. Anthony Hughes, In Old Chicago) at the reigns, they find themselves embroiled in a hesitant partnership. Crooked businessman Jim Harbison (Robert Barrat, They Were Expendable) shoots Drake because he's in possession of a valuable gold mine. As Drake lays dying he offers to give Cisco, Gordito, and Harbison the mine—and a map split in three pieces, one for each man—if they agree to give 50% of the share to his baby daughter (also in the wagon). When Harbison tries to double cross Cisco and Gordito, they smartly destroy their portion and commit it to memory. Cisco now has his hands full with an adorable little baby, a potential gold mine in his sights, the romance of a school teacher (Marjorie Weaver, Young Mr. Lincoln) and a chorus girl (Virginia Field, The Earth Dies Screaming), and the treacherous backstabbing efforts of Harbison and his goons!
Based on the character created by O. Henry (originally appearing in the 1907 short story "The Caballero's Way"), the Cisco Kid is an iconic adventurer who quickly became one of Hollywood's hottest heroes. Starring in dozens of films, Cisco Kid gained notable popularity, played most notably by 42nd Street's Warner Baxter (who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Cisco in the 1929 film In Old Arizona). After Baxter bowed out, matinee idol Cesar Romero took over. Romero is best known to younger audiences as the crackling, villainous Joker from the 1960s Batman television series. I have very strong memories of Romero's funny, campy portrayal of the iconic clown prince of crime, even though he refused to remove his trademark moustache (which could be easily seen through the thick white greasepaint).
Romero is at the center of The Cisco Kid and the Lady, a good natured if mostly fluffy western that could easily have been re-titled "Three Men and a Baby." Although The Cisco Kid and the Lady is a rough and tumble western, it also features many scenes of Cisco and his pals taking care of their little bundle of joy. Bath time! Feeding time! Goochie-goochie-goo time! The Cisco Kid and the Lady is still filled with standard western imagery: galloping horses, ten gallon hats, dirty looking saloons, cheap floozies, and six gun shooters. It just also revels in cuteness more than most films of this ilk.
What makes The Cisco Kid and the Lady above average is Cesar Romero's performance as the title character. Any time Romero is front and center—which is most of the film—he has a twinkle in his eye and a smooth way with words. Although his Cisco often feels a bit like a stereotype (the broken English sometimes comes close to parody), it's hard not to take a liking to the mostly good-hearted old west outlaw. This film would be the first time Romero would play the Cisco Kid (he'd play the character in five more films), and as an on-screen presence he's a true delight. Romero is so good that he mostly eclipses the other actors, including an amusing Chris-Pin Martin as Cisco's jolly buddy and Robert Barrat as the slinky and conniving Harbison.
I have to point out my favorite scene in the movie, where a chuckling Gordito takes care of the baby in a saloon bedroom by shooting off a gun and letting the tyke play with a loaded gun on the couch. It's a scene that is funny because of how remarkably un-PC it is in 2014; it's hard to see any modern studio having a scene showing a baby playing with a loaded gun without sweating—pardon the pun—bullets. Oh, how far we've come.
The Cisco Kid and the Lady is presented in 1.33:1 full frame in black and white. Part of Fox's Cinema Archives line (movies on demand), the transfer is passable at best. There is a fair amount of grain and dirt in the print, mostly due to the budget and age. I wouldn't say this transfer is comparable to VHS, but it's not that far off, either. I guess fans should just be glad Fox has released this title on DVD. The soundtrack is presented in a hiss-filled Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono mix in English. Much like the video transfer, this audio mix is nothing special—the mix is filled with pops and crackles, although the dialogue, music, and effects are clearly recorded. No alternate soundtracks or subtitles are included on this disc. There are no bonus features.
The Cisco Kid and the Lady is standard western stuff (everything unfolds as you'd expect, with the requisite happy ending), but for what it is, it's amusing and goes down easy as a shot of tequila. Romero is a joy to watch and basically walks off with the whole movie. If you're a fan of gunfights and spurs—and have a soft side for cherubic babies—then The Cisco Kid and the Lady is your kind of movie.
A rootin' tootin' good time!
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