The first film ever in which a Latino was nominated for an Oscar, Director Robert Montgomery’s “Ride the Pink Horse” (1947), will screen at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Mesa Public Library.
In this noir-style film shot in Santa Fe, Gagin (Montgomery) speaks few words but carries a big secret – or at least, so it seems – all the way to the border town of San Pablo, where FBI Agent Bill Retz (Art Smith) and bad guy Frank Hugo (Fred Clark) figure him out posthaste, or so it seems.
Basically, Gagin and Retz both want something from Hugo, and the main question is who will get it first. But “Ride the Pink Horse” is full of shifty glamor and merry-go-round rides. Gagin’s criminal involvement offers plenty of bewilderment, but as sometimes happens in noir, most enigmatic of all is a naive woman.
Pila (Wanda Hendrix), a teenager Gagin meets in San Pablo, tails him everywhere. She helps him find the La Fonda hotel, warns him of dangers, heals him after his inevitable knife fight, and even changes her hair to suit his liking. In exchange, he verbally abuses her. He appears to have suffered a bad relationship in the past, which doesn’t excuse his behavior.