In the bordertown of San Pablo, preparing for an annual Mexican Fiesta, arrives Gagin: tough, mysterious and laconic. His mission: to find the equally mysterious Frank Hugo, evidently for revenge; or is it blackmail? FBI agent Retz is also after the elusive Hugo.
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Speaking of slang, there wasn't much "Riding the pink pony" in this one. Of course Pila was young, but this Robert Montgomery wasn't exactly a gentleman. He's also a bit thick headed. He's very lucky people were looking out for him.
Stellar noir that hits all the checkboxes for me: the amount of political anxiety on honest display is captivating and uncompromising, with a punchy script, pungent atmosphere and strange, morally unsettling undercurrents. And I especially like how this is one bordertown noir where Mexicans aren't made into a threat. In fact, they're the sanest ones here—it's the white outsiders who need to get their heads straight.
Well-schooled as I am in this particular brand of post-war American fatalism, I am simply flummoxed by the fact that I have been allowed to navigate the world this long w/ Ride the Pink Horse in my blind spot. It towers. Robert Montgomery perfectly combines poise and recklessness as an actor, and I have never seen a performer laugh in this way. Wanda Hendrix is a revelation. Never seen her before. I am in loooooove.
If nothing else, this is the coolest name for a film noir. But beyond that, this is a hard-boiled, at times ruthless, noir that deserves to be more widely seen. Pulling off outstanding efforts as both actor and director, this is Robert Montgomery’s shining moment, in my opinion.
3.5 stars ~ Montgomery is the epitome of a cool and collected noir protagonist, who commands the scenes where he's in. Since that quality was naturally hidden in The Lady of the Lake, I wasn't aware how perfectly he would fit in this atmospheric New Mexico noir. Direction is great as well, although I wasn't fully captivated by the actual story.
A good one: Montgomery shines as actor and director in this uncommon film noir. It 's a hero's journey with a few unexpected twists. All Mexicans are portrayed with sympathy as opposed to the Americans who turn out to be violent, cynical or treacherous. It has a rather artificial look due to the studio sets, but it is shot with great technical skill and beautifully lit.
The main guy shows throughout the story that he may just be a bit slow. I don’t think this is intentional, but something in the performance just gives off a feeling of slight mental handicap. Pancho is fun. Incredibly racist.