Milagro Beanfield War

Milagro Beanfield War

5.0 3
Director: Robert Redford

Cast: Robert Redford, Ruben Blades, Richard Bradford, Sonia Braga


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It's advisable to know from the beginning of The Milagro Beanfield War that "milagro" is the Spanish word for "miracle." The scene is a rundown Hispanic community in New Mexico, bordering a posh housing development. In full control of the local water rights, the powers-that-be are secure in the belief that they'll be able to expand their development withoutSee more details below

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It's advisable to know from the beginning of The Milagro Beanfield War that "milagro" is the Spanish word for "miracle." The scene is a rundown Hispanic community in New Mexico, bordering a posh housing development. In full control of the local water rights, the powers-that-be are secure in the belief that they'll be able to expand their development without resistance from the locals. No one can foresee that impoverished farmer Joe Mondragon (Chick Vennera), during a burst of frustrated rage, will accidentally open a heretofore hidden sluice, thereby providing free water for his bean field. At first, the locals are against Mondragon's "insurrection," reasoning that the new housing development will provide jobs. But with the help of Charlie Bloom (John Heard), a burned-out '60s activist who now runs the community newspaper, Mondragon becomes the hero of the hour, the spiritual leader of an ever-growing "no development" movement. The evil land developers send their minions to intimidate or coerce Mondragon; each time, however, he is seemingly protected from harm by divine intervention. When Mondragon is forced to shoot a trespasser on his land, it looks as though his luck has run out. Chased into the hills by private detective Kyril Montana (Christopher Walken), Mondragon is once more rescued in the nick of time by what appears to be a miracle. And there are more wonders to behold before fade-out time! Whimsical, yes, but thanks to its hand-picked ensemble cast (including Sonia Braga, Rubén Blades, James Gammon, Daniel Stern, Freddy Fender, M. Emmet Walsh, and Melanie Griffith) the film remains totally credible throughout. Adapted by John Nichols and David Ward from Nichols' own novel, The Milagro Beanfield War may be the most likeable "liberal-tract" film of the 1980s. Robert Redford's appropriately Capraesque direction is matched by Dave Grusin's vibrant Oscar-winning musical score.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Famed liberal Robert Redford was apparently not a huge Ronald Reagan fan. After directing best picture winner Ordinary People in 1980, he took the entire Reagan administration off from directing -- and when he finally returned in 1988, it was helming a film that functions as a socialist thumb in the eye to Reagan's union-busting policies. The Milagro Beanfield War is more entertaining than that sounds, but not a lot more. It basically functions as a case study of small-town New Mexican farmers who try to continue their livelihood despite coming down on the wrong side, legally, of a resource dispute, as the townspeople at large try to save their sleepy hamlet from being developed into country clubs and high-end living. The conflict between the working man and the capitalist fat cats oozes through every frame. Of course, there's plenty of atmosphere to shape it into more of a movie and less of a Sociology 101 lesson. At times, the movie is almost terminally whimsical, as one of its main characters is the ghost of a deceased elder, who skips through Milagro and bears a remarkable resemblance to a character from Fiddler on the Roof, despite his Mexican rather than Jewish heritage. What's more, the central conflict is portrayed as ensnaring everyone in town, who take their turns stopping by the general store to buy guns and shells, regardless of their age or fitness for handling a weapon. Despite a quality cast and some quality filmmaking, what keeps The Milagro Beanfield War from being more effective is that the characters seem to exist only within the moment of whatever action they're taking or position they're holding. For a movie that tries so hard to emphasize the history of this town, it's problematic that the characters have no history of their own.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Robert Redford: Memories of Milagro

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rubén Blades Sheriff Bernabe Montoya
Richard Bradford Ladd Devine
Sonia Braga Ruby Archuleta
Julie Carmen Nancy Mondragon
James Gammon Horse Thief Shorty
John Heard Charlie Bloom
Chick Vennera Joe Mondragon
Melanie Griffith Flossie Devine
Carlos Riquelme Amarante Cordova
Daniel Stern Herbie Platt
Christopher Walken Kyril Montana
Freddy Fender Mayor Sammy Cantu
Robert Carricart Coyote Angel
M. Emmet Walsh The Governor
Tony Genaro Nick Rael
Jerry Hardin Emerson Capps
China Bell Devine's Friend
Juanita Nicholas Devine's Friend
Gene Ornales Governor's Office Staff
Frederico Roberto Senile Brigade
Pablo Trujillo Senile Brigade
Lynda Witz Governor's Office Staff
Ronald G. Joseph Jerry G
Mario Arrambide Carl
Alberto Morin Senile Brigade
Natividad Vacio Senile Brigade
Eloy Vigil Senile Brigade
Trinidad Silva Milagro Townsperson
Mike Gomez Milagro Townsperson
Olga Merediz Milagro Townsperson
Rudy Fernandez Milagro Townsperson
Fredrick Lopez Milagro Townsperson
Jimmy Martinez Milagro Townsperson
Eric Treisman Devine's Friend
Nat Shipman Devine's Friend
Margo Cutler Devine's Friend
Patricio Chavez Devine's Friend
Basil Hoffman Governor's Office Staff
Sam Vlahos Governor's Office Staff
Tom Connor Dancing Angel
Philip L. Mead Governor's Office Staff
Ronald C. Frazier Governor's Office Staff

Technical Credits
Robert Redford Director,Co-producer
Dede Allen Editor
Joe Aubel Art Director,Production Designer
Moctesuma Esparza Co-producer
Nancy Foy Casting
Stanley Frazen Editor
Robbie Greenberg Cinematographer
Dave Grusin Score Composer
Gary Hendler Executive Producer
Tom Hoerber Makeup
Gary D. Liddiard Makeup
Jim Miller Editor
James M. Miller Editor
Charles B. Mulvehill Co-producer
John Nichols Screenwriter
Frank Pierson Screenwriter
Bernie Pollack Costumes/Costume Designer
Robert Jones Screenwriter
Kay Rose Sound Editor
Thomas Roysden Set Decoration/Design
David S. Ward Screenwriter
Tom Ward Special Effects
Jim Webb Sound/Sound Designer
David Wisnievitz Production Manager

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Titles [4:02]
2. Windmills on the Horizon [8:17]
3. Irritable Irrigation [10:31]
4. Joe's Beanfield [7:46]
5. The Boogeyman [7:50]
6. Professional Agitator [4:11]
7. Milagro Miracle [2:55]
8. Talk of the Town [6:14]
9. The Patron Saint [9:26]
10. Cow Rustling [:49]
11. Pancho Villa [5:44]
12. Taking the Job [7:24]
13. Spoiled Harvest [6:20]
14. Western Justice [6:06]
15. The Lone Ranger [6:52]
16. Picking Beans [9:14]
17. Arrested Development [6:30]
18. End Titles [4:05]

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