The Cisco Kid
The Cisco Kid refers to a character found in numerous film, radio, television and comic book series based on the fictional Western character created by O. Henry in his 1907 short story "The Caballero's Way", published in the collection Heart of the West. In movies and television, the Kid was depicted as a heroic Mexican caballero, even though he was originally a cruel outlaw.
"The Caballero's Way" (short story)
In O. Henry's darkly ironic original story, the Cisco Kid bears little resemblance to later adaptations. The character is a 25-year-old desperado in the Texas-Mexico border country. He kills for sport and is responsible for at least eighteen deaths. His real name is possibly Goodall ("This hombre they call the Kid—Goodall is his name, ain't it?"); no first name is given in the story. The Kid's mixed-ancestry girlfriend, Tonia Perez, both fears and loves him. However, when Texas ranger Lieutenant Sandridge arrives at her home seeking news of the Cisco Kid, they fall in love. He begins visiting twice a week. The Kid arrives to visit Tonia and observes them.
Ten yards from his hiding-place, in the shade of the jacal, sat his Tonia calmly plaiting a rawhide lariat. So far she might surely escape condemnation; women have been known, from time to time, to engage in more mischievous occupations. But if all must be told, there is to be added that her head reposed against the broad and comfortable chest of a tall red-and-yellow man, and that his arm was about her, guiding her nimble small fingers that required so many lessons at the intricate six-strand plait.
He also overhears Tonia tell Sandridge that she had word that the Kid was near and assumes that he will visit her soon. She says that she will send him word by Gregorio, "the small son of old Luisa," so that he can bring his men and kill the Kid. Sandridge departs and, after half an hour, the Kid then pretends to just arrive. However, he soon sends a message to Sandridge by Domingo Sales, who claimed that Luisa said that Gregorio was "too ill of a fever to ride". The message says that the Kid has arrived, but claims that the Kid is fearful of men after him, so will make Tonia switch clothes with him "so he can tell if I am true and if men are hidden to shoot him." Sandridge returns to Tonia's home. In the moonlight, he sees two figures, one in men's clothing and the other in women's. The one in men's clothing rides away. Assuming this to be Tonia, Sandridge ignores this person and proceeds to shoot the remaining figure in women's clothing, assuming it to be the Kid. However, it was Tonia. Thus, the Kid tricked Sandridge into killing his love, Tonia.
Numerous movies featured the character, beginning in the silent film era with The Caballero's Way (1914). There is a discrepancy as to who actually played the part of the Cisco Kid. In the cemetery records of Stanley Herbert Dunn it states that he played the part, but at IMDb.com it states that William Robert Dunn played the part. It could be that Stanley Herbert Dunn played the Kid in a play the same year that William Robert Dunn played him in the movie.
For his portrayal of the Kid in the early sound film In Old Arizona (1928), Warner Baxter won the second Best Actor Oscar. This film was a revised version of the original story, in which the Kid is portrayed in a positive light. It was directed by Irving Cummings and Raoul Walsh, who was originally slated to play the lead until a jackrabbit jumping through a windshield cost him an eye while on location. In 1931, Fox Film Corporation produced a sound version with Baxter, Conchita Montenegro, and Edmund Lowe.
The movie series began with The Return of the Cisco Kid (1939), featuring Baxter in the title role with Cesar Romero as his sidekick, Lopez, Chris Pin Martin as the other sidekick, Gordito ("Fatty"), Lynn Bari as his mistaken love interest, Ann Carver, Henry Hull as her wayward grandfather, and Ward Bond in the lowest-billed role as "Tough," whose one scene shows him beaten into unconsciousness by the unscrupulous Sheriff McNally (Robert Barrat}.
Romero took over the lead role of Cisco and Martin continued to play Gordito in six further films before the series was suspended with America's entry into World War II in 1941. Duncan Renaldo took over the reins as the Kid when Monogram Pictures revived the series in 1945 with The Cisco Kid Returns, which also introduced the Kid's best-known sidekick, Pancho, played by Martin Garralaga. Pancho also became established as his sidekick in other media. Neither Gordito nor Pancho is in the original story. After three Renaldo/Cisco films, Gilbert Roland played the character in a half-dozen 1946-1947 movies beginning with The Gay Cavalier (1946). Renaldo then returned to the role with Leo Carrillo as Pancho. They made five films, with Renaldo assuming the flowery "Cisco" outfit in the final film. He would wear that throughout the TV series that followed.
List of movies
- The Caballero's Way (1914)
- The Border Terror (1919)
- In Old Arizona (1928)
- The Arizona Kid (1930)
- The Slippery Pearls (1931)
- The Cisco Kid (1931)
- Return of the Cisco Kid (1939)
- The Cisco Kid and the Lady (1939)
- Lucky Cisco Kid (1940)
- Viva Cisco Kid (1940)
- The Gay Caballero (1940)
- Romance of the Rio Grande (1941)
- Ride on Vaquero (1941)
- The Cisco Kid Returns (1945)
- The Cisco Kid In Old New Mexico (1945)
- South of the Rio Grande (1945)
- The Gay Cavalier (1946)
- South of Monterey (1946)
- Beauty and the Bandit (1946)
- Riding the California Trail (1947)
- Robin Hood of Monterey (1947)
- King of the Bandits (1947)
- Valiant Hombre (1948)
- The Gay Amigo (1949)
- The Daring Caballero (1949)
- Satan's Cradle (1949)
- The Girl From San Lorenzo (1950)
The Cisco Kid came to radio October 2, 1942, with Jackson Beck in the title role and Louis Sorin as Pancho. With Vicki Vola and Bryna Raeburn in supporting roles and Michael Rye announcing, this series continued on Mutual until 1945. It was followed by another Mutual series in 1946, starring Jack Mather and Harry Lang, who continued to head the cast in the syndicated radio series of more than 600 episodes from 1947 to 1956.
The radio episodes ended with one or the other of them making a corny joke about the adventure they had just completed. They would laugh, saying, "'oh, Pancho!" "'oh, Cisco!", before galloping off, while laughing.
Number Title Airdate Length Notes 001 Disappearing Bullet 520722 27m00s Man gets swindled at cards and loses everything he has to a crooked dealer and ends up being accused of murder. 002 The Meanest Man in Arizona 520724 27m58s 003 The Man Trapped in the Cave 520729 27m23s
Television series and movies
Renaldo returned to the role for the popular 156-episode Ziv Television series The Cisco Kid (1950–1956), notable as the first TV series filmed in color.
The Cisco Kid's sidekick Pancho was portrayed by Leo Carrillo for the 1950s TV series.
The TV episodes and the 1994 movie, like the radio series, ended with one or the other of them making a corny joke about the adventure they had just completed. They would laugh, saying, "'O, Pancho!" "'O, Cisco!", before galloping off, while laughing, into the sunset. Spanish-styled Western theme music was heard as the credits rolled.
References in movies and television
In the movie Stand by Me, Chris asks Gordie about the Cisco Kid when referring to a pistol.
In the 1990 David Lynch film Wild at Heart, Sailor references the Cisco Kid and Pancho when he imparts advice to his young son, "If ever somethin' don't feel right to you, remember what Pancho said to the Cisco Kid: 'Let's win this, before we are dancing at the end of a rope, without music.'"
In a 1949 episode of The Lone Ranger, "Pete and Pedro," Pedro was a Mexican character who spoke just like the Cisco Kid and Pancho and displayed some of their characteristics.
The television series Hill Street Blues briefly featured a recurring character named Alan Bradford (portrayed by Martin Ferrero). In Bradford's first appearance, episode #58, "Here's Adventure, Here's Romance" (the announcer's first lines in the opening of the Cisco Kid television series), he was arrested while wearing western garb and stealing a horse. In an unusual twist, his delusion was not that he was the fictional Cisco Kid, but that he was the real-life actor Duncan Renaldo playing the Cisco Kid. He misidentified Hill Street supporting character Ray Calletano (portrayed by René Enríquez) as Cisco Kid actor Leo Carrillo, who'd played Pancho.
In the season five finale of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, it is revealed that Nick Stokes' father's nickname for him is "Pancho", and he in turn calls his father "Cisco". His boss, Gil Grissom, later uses the "Pancho" nickname to calm Nick down while they are trying to rescue him from a coffin that has been rigged with explosives.
- Cisco Kid Comics, a one-shot comic book by Baily Publishing, appeared on newsstands in 1944.
- Dell Comics published 41 issues of The Cisco Kid from 1950 to 1958.
- Jose Luis Salinas and Rod Reed drew the Cisco Kid comic strip, syndicated from 1951 to 1967.
- Moonstone Books has, as of 2009, published six graphic novels about the Kid.
- Nash Candelaria's 1988 short-story collection is entitled The Day the Cisco Kid Shot John Wayne.
- In Stephen King's short story "The Raft", Pancho and Cisco are the nicknames used by the two ill-fated friends stranded on the raft.
- Dennis "Cisco" Wojciechowski, Mickey Haller's private investigator in The Brass Verdict and The Fifth Witness was nicknamed Cisco in honor of the Cisco Kid while he was affiliated with the Road Saints motorcycle gang.
Mark Lindsay: the title character of the song "Arizona" (from the 1970 album Arizona) posts a poster of Pancho and Cisco.
War: the song "The Cisco Kid" (The World Is a Ghetto 1972) reached number two on the US pop charts; the song also appears on their 2008 Greatest Hits Live: "Cisco Kid was a friend of mine / He drank whiskey / Pancho'd drink the wine."
- Willie Nelson and the Los Lonely Boys covers this song on the album Outlaws and Angels (2004).
- Cypress Hill, Method Man, and Redman sample this song in the song "Cisco Kid."
- Lil Rob samples this song on his mixtape Uncut for the Calles: Mextape Vol. Uno (2007).
- Beau Jacque covered this song.
- WPIX channel 11 in New York uses this as the theme song for their nightly "Help Me Howard" segment.
Fat Larry's Band: The semi-humorous song "Hey Pancho it's Disco" (Lookin' for Love 1979) takes Pancho's perspective as he copes with Cisco changing his name to 'Disco'.
Don Williams: in "Pancho" (I Turn the Page 1998), the Kid mournfully reflects on their friendship that has ended.
- This song was covered in 2006 by the band Tortoise on their album Brave and bold.
The names Pancho and Cisco
"Cisco" and "Pancho" are both nicknames given to men whose name is Francisco, which is Spanish for "Francis." The real name of the famous Mexican revolutionary general Pancho Villa was Doroteo Arango, but it is not clear whether either Cisco or Pancho were originally named after Villa.
- ^ p.19 Osbourne, Robert C. Academy Awards Illustrated 1969 Abe Books
- ^ At 26:49 on OTRWesterns.com you will hear the exact quote from the radio series.
- ^ "'Cisco Kid' for TV Via Pact With Ziv", Billboard, Sept. 24, 1949, p. 47. Commercial color television broadcasting began in 1951, but a non-network program such as The Cisco Kid could not have been shown in color on local stations before 1954.
- ^ Moonstone Books, accessed 12 August 2009.
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