A Kind of “Heist Picture”

Mexican Filibusterers
R: Kenean Buel. D: Carlyle Blackwell, Alice Joyce. P: Kalem Company. USA 1911
Filming Locations: Glendale, California, USA
Print: EYE (Desmet collection)
Dutch titles

“Our story opens in the office of the Mexican junta in a Texas town, not many miles from the border, presided over by M. Oliverez, supposedly the agent for the Mexican-American Fruit Co. Pedro, a young Mexican attached to the Junta, is in love with Blance, the agent’s daughter. Arrangements have been made to run a quantity of fire arms and ammunition across the line to the Mexican insurgents. In loading a freight care with the contraband every patriot thereabouts takes off his coat and works with a will, all except Monte. Oliverez coming on the scene and finding everyone working but Monte, upbraids the lazy fellow and threatens to strike him. This arouses the revengeful spirit of Monte; he sneaks away and advises the American authorities that the Mexican filibusterers are attempting to rush fire arms across the border. Although compelled to act on the information furnished by him the Secret Service man are disgusted with the traitor and look upon him with contempt. (…)”
Moving Picture World synopsis

“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.”
Century Film Project

“The heist film is a subgenre of the crime film. It focuses on the planning, execution, and aftermath of a theft. Versions with dominant or prominent comic elements are often called caper movies. They could be described as the analogues of caper stories in film history. A typical film includes many plot twists, with the focus on the characters’ attempts to formulate a plan, carry it out, and escape with the goods. Often a nemesis must be thwarted, who might be either a figure of authority or else a former partner who turned on the group or one of its members.”

The Colonel’s Escape
R: George Melford. D: Carlyle Blackwell, Alice Joyce, C. Rhys Pryce, Karl Formes. P: Kalem Company. USA 1912
Print: EYEfilm
Engl titles (translated from the Dutch version)

“Another Mexican war film from Kalem. C. Rhys Pryce (apparently playing himself) is a soldier who is on the side of the Mexican rebels. He rescues Carlyle Blackwell, apparently on the side of the Federals, and takes him to a house where Alice Joyce gives him some water. When the rebel man is chased and hides in Alice’s house, Blackwell recognizes him and lets him go (with an interesting shot of them watching the escape through a window). (…) Interesting that Kalem films sided with the rebels in the Mexican war and that this film stars a soldier of fortune appearing under his own name.”

>>> The Great Train Robbery 
>>> Kenean Buel’s: The Confederate Ironclad