One of the most breathtaking 35mm tinted and toned nitrate prints from the silent era (see HERE for the opening scene), the Library of Congress has graciously provided Milestone with an exceptional video master of this silent cult classic. BIG STAKES is an entertaining, exciting, hilarious – and yes, strange – addition to cinema history and Latino studies. What else can you call a film that involves a lovely señorita, a hell-bent buckaroo, a dangerous Mexican captain, a poisonous Gila monster, the KKK … and everybody’s fate, the big stakes, decided on by two "brincadores?" That would be Mexican jumping beans. Which, as you may know, neither jump nor are actually beans...
Mercedes Aloyez, the daughter of a wealthy Mexican rancher, is betrothed to Captain Montaya. The rootin’ tootin’ buckaroo Jim Gregory (complete with comic sidekick) is in love with the ladies, but with a special eye towards barkeep Mary Moore. While out riding, Gregory saves Mercedes from a fate worse then death. (Well, actually, it is death.) The cowboy falls for the señorita, which earns the Mexican Captain’s displeasure. When Mercedes and Gregory meet for a nighttime rendezvous, they are captured by the Mexican soldiers. The Captain threatens them with the infamous and deadly Gila monster, but the resourceful cowboy bets his life against the captain’s with, of course, a race between Mexican jumping beans. A victorious (well, his bean, anyway) Gregory spares the honorable Captain and asks Mercedes to choose whom she loves. This uncomfortable situation is interrupted by the KKK (okay, actually the white-robed and a matching white hood-ensembled “Night Riders”) who have captured Mary. Gregory rides out to the rescue and upon return, discovers that Mercedes loves the Captain – and that he has a renewed fondness for Mary. BIG STAKES is a fun and rip-roarin' ride across the plains of western -- and Western -- cinema. And for 1922, a fascinating and complex look at Mexican and American stereotypes. Comes with D.W. Griffith's RAMONA starring Mary Pickford!
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