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And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself
Directed by Bruce Beresford
Produced by Tony Mark
Written by Larry Gelbart
Starring Antonio Banderas
Eion Bailey
Alan Arkin
Jim Broadbent
Release date(s) 7 September 2003 (USA)
Running time 112 min

And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself is a 2003 television film starring Antonio Banderas as Pancho Villa. The movie's tagline is Lights. Camera. Revolution.

At the time of production, this was the most expensive 2-hour television/cable movie ever made, with a budget of over $30 million.

The film concerns the filming of The Life of General Villa (which was shot in 1914) and is seen through the eyes of Frank N. Thayer, a studio boss's nephew who gets a career boost when he is placed in charge of the project. The resulting film became the first feature length movie, introducing scores of Americans to the true horrors of war that they had never personally seen. Thayer sold the studios on making the film despite their concerns that no one would sit through a movie longer than 1 hour, by convincing them that they could raise the price of movies to ten cents, doubling the going price at that time. The actual contract that Pancho Villa signed with Frank N. Thayer and the Mutual Film Company on January 5, 1914 to film the Battle of Ojinaga still exists and is in a museum in Mexico City. The original film has been lost, but some unedited film reels of the battle, showing Pancho Villa and his army fighting Federal forces, as well as photographs and publicity stills taken from the original film still exist.



Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa (Antonio Banderas) finds himself without adequate funding to finance his war against the military-run government. He also finds himself at odds with the Americans because of the Hearst media empire's press campaign against him. To counter both of these threats, he sends emissaries to movie producers to convince them to pay to film his progress and the actual battles. Producer D.W. Griffith (Colm Feore) is immediately interested and convinces Mutual Film Studios boss Harry E. Aitkin to send a film crew. Aitkin's nephew Frank Thayer is initially a mere errand boy for the studio, but he makes a good impression with Villa, who demands that Thayer be placed in charge of the project. Despite the failure of Thayer's initial footage (which draws derisive laughter from potential backers) Thayer convinces Aitkin to invest even more money in a second attempt, and also convinces Villa to participate in making a more narrative film.

Immersed in the culture of the Mexican Revolution, Thayer becomes horrified and fascinated by Villa. He finds an enigmatic individual that is both ghoulishly brutal and charmingly captivating. Villa, meanwhile, grows to think of Thayer as a friend despite Villa's own contempt for American attitudes.

Cast and characters


  • Won 2005 Art Directors Guild award for Excellence in Production Design
  • Nominated in 2004 for Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Picture Made for Television
  • Nominated for 2004 Costume Designer Guild CDG Award for "Excellence in Costume Design for Television"
  • Won 2004 Emmy Award for "Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special"
  • Nominated for 2004 Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special", "Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie", "Outstanding Costumes for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special", "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie", "Outstanding Made for Television Movie", "Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special", "Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special"
  • Nominated for 2004 Golden Globe for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television" (for Antonio Banderas)


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