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Film / Viva Max!

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Viva Max! is a 1969 satirical comedy directed by Jerry Paris.

Brigadier General Maximilian Rodrigues De Santos (Peter Ustinov) is the commander of the 87 man Nuevo Laredo garrison of the Mexican army. Due to a series of insults by his mistress and his vast ego, he decided to recapture the Alamo to prove his military genius.

De Santos is in actuality an incompetent fool that commands absolutely no respect from his men. It is only through the actions of Sergeant Valdez (John Astin) that the unit has stayed together as long as it has.

Telling the men that they have been put on diplomatic duty to demonstrate pan-American friendship in a parade at Laredo, he marches his platoon across the American border and commandeers a car and civilian clothing from some tourists. Taking one of his men who has served as a cabbie in Guadalajara and knew how to drive, they reconnoiter the Alamo in disguise. After meeting back up with the platoon, they march down the freeway, through downtown San Antonio, and just before closing time at 5:00 O'clock, they charge the gates and 'defeat' the garrison, composed of one elderly security guard. They also take the only two other people inside prisoner. These are Paula Whitland (Pamela Tiffin), a 60's college radical who is infatuated by the general and views him as the next Che Guevara, and Edna Miller (Ann Morgan Guilbert), who thinks that the whole affair is a plot by the Red Chinese and that the invasion has started.


This film provides examples of:

  • Excited Show Title!: Note the exclamation mark at the end of the title.
  • Line in the Sand: The historical genesis of this trope is parodied in Viva Max, when General Maximillian, after somewhat successfully attempting to recapture the Alamo, draws a line and asks his men who want to give in to the local sheriff's orders to leave. Everyone stars to cross, but go back when Max's assistant — the only man in the company actually carrying ammo — points a gun at them. Later, Max's men decide to stay on their own volition.
  • Mexico Called; They Want Texas Back: The titular General Maximillian is driven to near insanity when the Mexican woman he has a crush on spurns him and insults his capacity as a military officer. He assumes that, naturally, the best way to impress her is to recapture the Alamo.


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