Watched three Gilbert Roland Cisco Kid films from 1946: The Gay Cavalier, Beauty and the Bandit, and South of Monterey. Rather routine stories, full of predictable cliches and with bad guys conveniently spouting their plans in front of good guys hidden behind trees so we can go foil their plans without having to work too hard. There's no real tension or danger in these films, but I still found them diverting enough entertainment and enjoyed them.
Of the three, The Gay Cavalier was the best as it had the more interesting story (Cisco framed for robbing a stage coach), better action -- including a nice sword fight -- and better dialogue. And while the movies are less than stellar, Gilbert Roland makes them all watchable for me. His Cisco Kid is always calm, well dressed and hat at a rakish angle, always smoking (and putting his burning cigarette behind his ear when he needs it out of the way, yikes!), always drinking tequila with his lemon and salt, always leaning casually against something, very suave, always keeping an eye out for a pretty girl. He carries around pocketful of matching necklaces that he passes out to any woman he likes. But if they start talking marriage, he splits as fast as he can. And he rides an absolutely gorgeous palomino horse that would probably go on my "Movie Horses I wish I Owned" list. Of course, everyone else politely rides dark-colored horses, so his palomino stands out even more.
I was reading some reviews, and seems a lot of people prefer the other "cleaner" incarnations of the Cisco Kid (and there are a ton of Cisco Kid films and a tv show). I haven't seen the other versions yet, but have a feeling because this is the one I saw first, that I'll be the opposite. I'll be missing Gilbert Roland in the other versions, even if the other films have stronger stories, etc. I'm quite okay with an Old West Robin Hood who helps out the poor any way he can, but who also keeps enough of his loot to live nicely himself. Who has his vices. Makes him more human to me. Less black and white, more grey. I like that.
He has a gang; however, they don't seem to do anything, and Cisco frequently leaves them behind at times I think a little backup would be a useful thing. I mean, really. I know he's brave and more than capable, but who in their right mind thinks: "Time to go brace the villain and his henchmen in his lair... I'll just leave all my men with their guns behind." Sheesh! Honestly, I think he keeps them around just for their singing. They sing spectacularly, you see. In perfect harmony whether at a campfire or at a canter on horseback. They keep him entertained. He does at least take his right-hand man, Baby, along. Different actors play this character in these films, and I got spoiled by the one (Nacho Galindo) I saw first in Gay Cavalier. He was perfect. The replacement in the other two movies (Frank Yaconelli) lacked the "looks harmless, but has very sharp teeth" competence of the first guy. He was more the comic relief, less spontaneously dangerous.
In The Gay Cavalier, he's going back to visit the lady, and he sneaks in carrying a tray of hot chocolate and cakes she had requested from the servant. When he gets to her bedroom, he finds she's singing a romantic song about the dashing caballero she just met (him). So, he takes a seat in the antechamber, tries out her hot chocolate and eats her cakes, while listening to her finish the song. Oh, and him spiking the punch at a party he's crashed cracked me up too. Scenes like this just make Cisco so interesting and not boring.
Beauty and the Bandit has the girl (same one from The Gay Cavalier) physically stripping him out of his shirt so she can go wash it for him while he stands there bemused and at a loss for words. And how come more ladies don't try this out, hmmm?
South of Monterey has a great scene with him talking to a cockroach in jail. "This room is already occupied." Snort. He finally gets wounded in this movie. Shot in the shoulder, bad enough that he barely escapes the bad guy's posse, and he even passes out. But gee, when he comes to, all bandaged up by the ladies in that film... he's well enough to punch out bad guys with that injured arm and never notice the wound again the rest of the movie. What medicinal secrets do these cinematic women have, anyway? LOL!
All in all, they were fun enough that I'll be getting Vol. 2. next.
(note: The Cisco Kid is not The Frisco Kid -- which is a 1979 movie staring Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford.)