Mexican Filibusters (1911)
Prior to seeing this rare American film about the Mexican Revolution, I hadn’t known that “filibuster” could mean anything except for a lengthy congressional speech, made deliberately to stall for time (ala “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”). Apparently, however, it could also mean “arms smuggler,” as in this movie, although our smugglers here are actually Mexican Americans smuggling arms into Mexico, not Mexicans themselves. It is a kind of early “heist” picture, in which the audience is far more invested in the criminals and whether they will pull off the crime than in the pursuing forces of law. It owes a great deal, in fact, to “The Great Train Robbery,” both visually and in terms of narrative, which makes it seem a bit dated for 1911. It was one of the first films in which Kenean Buel directed Alice Joyce (which also include “By the Aid of a Lariat” and “The Mexican Joan of Arc”) for the Kamen Company, which would itself make further movies about the complicated border relations during the time of the Revolution. Despite the fact that much of the film centers around a thrilling chase, the editing is fairly straightforward, with little inter-cutting or use of multiple angles to communicate the story, and the forward-facing intertitles telegraph a great deal of the action before it happens.
Director: Kenean Buel
Starring: Alice Joyce, Carlyle Blackwell
Run Time: 16 Min
You can watch it for free: here.