Picks and Pans Review: And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself

updated 09/15/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/15/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

HBO (Sun., Sept. 7, 9:30 p.m. ET)

I like the wry title of this TV movie, but it suffers when the focus shifts away from the star. Set mostly in 1914, the script by Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H) concerns a deal between movie pioneer D.W. Griffith's company and Mexican rebel Pancho Villa (Antonio Banderas), who lets the gringos film his army in real combat in return for $25,000 in gold. Banderas is a charismatic Villa, and Gelbart puts over a few witty points about Hollywoodized history. Unfortunately the film dwells too much on Frank Thayer (Eion Bailey), the production assistant assigned to keep the rebel cooperating. Young Thayer hasn't a fraction of Villa's star quality.

BOTTOM LINE: Interesting misfire

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