Wednesday, October 19, 2016

She Came to the Valley (1979)

Made in roughly the same Texan locations where the historical events it depicts took place, She Came to the Valley dramatizes a mildly interesting episode from the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920. After a leg injury dashes their agricultural dreams in Oklahoma, Pat Westall (Dean Stockwell) and his wife, Willy Westall (Ronee Blakeley), relocate to the Rio Grande Valley on the advice of a mysterious friend, Bill Lester (Scott Glenn). This places the Westall family in the line of fire during battles between the American government and Mexican rebel Pancho Villa (Freddy Fender). Executed with more Hollywood panache, this material could have become something exciting and romantic, with the fearless Willy torn between her alcoholic husband and the valiant Bill, whom she discovers is a soldier in Villa’s army. Alas, cowriter, coproducer, and director Albert Band isn’t up to the task. Beyond merely looking awful, thanks to blotchy cinematography and nonexistent scene transitions, She Came to the Valley is hopelessly unfocused. Band and his collaborators seem unsure about what approach to take on the material, and they also seem unsure about which character occupies the center of the narrative. Willy seems the obvious choice, but for long stretches of screen time, she doesn’t do anything. Similarly, Bill disappears for extended periods, and when he’s onscreen, the character is mostly polite and soft-spoken. Not exactly the Bogart/Redford-type role this sort of material demands. The first hour of She Came to the Valley is borderline interminable, and even though the subsequent 30 minutes have some action because Villa leads a brazen nighttime raid, the excitement level remains depressingly low given how little viewers care about the characters. All the major performances are disappointing, too. Blakely and Glenn sleepwalk through their roles, Stockwell overacts, and Fender demonstrates why he was wise to focus on his music career.

She Came to the Valley: LAME


DrCasbahJazz said...

Freddy Fender? Really? So, basically, the casting director said, "um...Villa was, well, a heavyset Mexican fella...we need a heavyset Mexican fella...HEY! THAT GUY! Added bonus, he's a celbrity! GOLD, GOOOOOOLD, I TELLS YA!" --in a voice similar to that of Albert Brooks.

Charles T. Tatum, Jr. said...

So bad!