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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » My Dear Tom Mix
My Dear Tom Mix
Facets Video // Unrated // June 26, 2007
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted June 17, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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My Dear Tom Mix (Mi querido Tom Mix, 1991) seems like it couldn't possibly miss. Set in a small Mexican town in the 1920s where an aging woman on the cusp of senility escapes into the fantasy world of Tom Mix's silent Western serials*, it's the kind of film you really, really want to like. Sort of an Hispanic merging of Cinema Paradiso and Harry Hurwitz's low-budget gem The Projectionist (1971), My Dear Tom Mix never really gels and its inconsistent tone and attempts at gentle humor generally fall flat.




Ana Ofelia Murguia stars as Joaquina, an older woman whose creeping senility has forced her to move in with her doctor nephew, Evaristo (Manuel Ojeda), and his shrewish wife, Antonia (Mercedes Olea), a woman who's clearly ready to stick Joaquina in a nursing home at the first opportunity. The couple's own young nephew, Felipe (Damian Garcia Vazquez) comes to visit for vacation, and he and Joaquina predictably bond, especially against dragon-lady Antonia.


The boy learns of Joaquina's obsession for Hollywood cowboy star Tom Mix. She daydreams about him constantly, keeps scrapbooks of newspaper and magazine clippings, and rushes down to the local cinema, El Eden, to catch the latest chapter of his new serial.


Meanwhile, real-life marauding banditos invade their small town, killing the cinema's piano player. What this situation needs, Joaquina reckons, is Tom Mix - but will he come to save the day?


Consuelo Garrido's screenplay aims for the much of the same small-town charm of Cinema Paradiso, populating the film with frequently eccentric characters with little stories told in tandem with its main narrative about Joaquina and Felipe. There's a wandering stranger, Domingo (Federico Luppi) who fancies himself as a Hollywood-style gunslinger, along with a Chinese laundryman, Fong, that thankfully avoids the usual racial stereotypes. And like Cinema Paradiso My Dear Tom Mix offers an inside look, albeit briefly, at rural movie-going in a bygone age. (In a nice touch, the El Eden cinema is occupied by a pigeon that flies around the auditorium over all the cheap folding chairs.) Like The Projectionist, Joaquina's daydreams utilize silent film recreations.


Unfortunately, none of this really goes anywhere and completely lacks the resonance of Giuseppe Tornatore's Oscar-winner. Attempts at humor fall flat. The doctor is constantly paid in farm animals instead of cash, and soon the family's tiny patio is overflowing with livestock. In what is unquestionably the film's worst and most incongruous scene, the self-styled gunslinger does a monologue spoofing Robert De Niro's famous "You talkin' to me!?" speech from Taxi Driver. Say what?


Video & Audio


Not helping matters is My Dear Tom Mix's blah transfer, which looks like it probably dates back to the early-1990s. Though the full frame format may be correct (though this is contradicted by the letterboxed end credits), a theatrical print complete with reel change cues was sourced for the dual-layered transfer, which has a fair share of video noise and other imperfections, including several instances where the images freezes or jump-cuts several frames. Menu screens are sloppily designed, and when one selects English subtitles to accompany the Spanish audio, the DVD plays the movie without them and viewers will need to turn them on using the subtitle button on their remote.


Extra Features


The extras are another disappointment. A trailer for the film is in Spanish only, while an awkwardly written filmography section is marred by notes obviously not written by a native English speaker.


Parting Thoughts


My Dear Tom Mix boasts a fine, sensitive performance by actress Murguia and a generally sincere approach but little else. Those interested in silent Westerns and recent Mexican cinema might still want to Rent It, however.




* However, as silent Western fan Sergei Hasenecz points out, "Tom Mix only made one serial, and that was The Miracle Rider in 1935. Needless to say, it was a talkie. In the 1920s, all of Tom's movies were features."


Film historian Stuart Galbraith IV's most recent essays appear in Criterion's new three-disc Seven Samurai DVD and BCI Eclipse's The Quiet Duel. His audio commentary for Invasion of Astro Monster is now available.

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