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Viva Max

This satirical saga of a ragtail platoon of Mexican soldiers who recapture the Alamo in 1969 is a captivatingly original idea, well produced but questionably cast with Peter Ustinov in the lead. Screenplay, based on James Lehrer's novel, carries a perfectly plausible but inherently comic idea to its logical absurdities.

This satirical saga of a ragtail platoon of Mexican soldiers who recapture the Alamo in 1969 is a captivatingly original idea, well produced but questionably cast with Peter Ustinov in the lead. Screenplay, based on James Lehrer’s novel, carries a perfectly plausible but inherently comic idea to its logical absurdities.

Ustinov is the Mexican general who leads his small band of grousing, shuffling troops across the border on the pretext of marching in a Washington Birthday parade in Laredo. Both he and John Astin, as his tough sergeant, do yeoman work, but have that vague aura of embarrassment of good actors who wonder what the director has wrought.

The film has a little something to offend a wide variety of groups – Texans, the National Guard, right-wing para-military groups, and even the Alamo defender, John Wayne.

Cameraman Henri Persin makes excellent use of the locations in San Antonio, and his matching of shots makes it impossible to tell at first viewing what was shot in Texas and what at Rome’s Cinecitta Studios.

Viva Max

US - UK

  • Production: Commonwealth United. Director Jerry Paris; Producer Mark Carliner; Screenplay Elliott Baker; Camera Henri Persin; Editor Bud Molin, David Berlatsky; Music Hugo Montenegro, Ralph Dino, John Sembello; Art Director James Hulsey
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1969. Running time: 92 MIN.
  • With: Peter Ustinov Pamela Tiffin Jonathan Winters John Astin Keenan Wynn Harry Morgan
  • Music By: