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El Robo (1957)
Category Vintage
Label LVN

Tagalog Movie

Directed by Manuel Conde
Story by Dominador Ad. Castillo
Screenplay by Solano Gaudite

Opening sequence of El Robo where Cleto (Dan Masinas)
is about to kill Don Silvestre Montenegro (Oscar Keese)

El Robo is the story of an hacienda landlord/patriarch and his feuding sons. Although it is primarily an action film, El Robo is also a tightly woven thriller - a story of mistrust and intrigue within a family, and the ever shifting alliances among its members.

At the start of the film, in the dead of night, a man breaks into the home of Don Silvestre Montenegro (Oscar Keese) and threatens to kill him. The man turns out to be Cleto (Dan Masinas), formerly a trusted aide, but who now seeks redress for the shame Don Silvestre has brought upon his sister Aurora, a local washerwoman (Charito de Leon). Cleto's plan is aborted when a maid barges into the room with the news that Don Silvestre's sick wife has just passed.

Don Silvestre marries Aurora and takes her and their son, Rodrigo, to live in the hacienda, where they meet Don Silvestre's two sons by his dead wife, Lucio and Amado. The two boys are immediately filled with bitterness at this unexpected turn of events.

The young Lucio and Amado are resentful of
their father's new wife, Aurora and her son

Years pass but the hostility felt by Lucio (Jose Vergara) and Amado (Carlos Padilla Jr) against Rodrigo (Armando Goyena) and his mother is stronger than ever. Even Rodrigo's girlfriend, Elena (Delia Razon), becomes the object of gossip and unkind rumors.

Amado (Carlos Padilla Jr), Lucio (Jose Vergara)
& Rodrigo (Armando Goyena)

Lucio eventually leaves the hacienda and joins a notorious band of outlaws. Don Silvestre disowns him and openly calls him a criminal.

Lucio's ultimate defiance of his father: becoming a bandit!

Within the outlaws' group itself, there is a power struggle going on between the aging leader and the psychotic Terong (Eusebio Gomez). It is also revealed that because of a personal tragedy that befell his family, Terong has sworn revenge against the Montenegro clan, unaware that Lucio is a Montenegro. Lucio, however, is well liked by the aging leader and her young daughter.

Terong (Eusebio Gomez),
the studio's favorite villain

In the meanwhile, Rodrigo, the 'bastard' son, seeks his father's permission to look for Lucio and reconcile him with the family. He is ambushed by Terong's wild group and almost killed were it not for Lucio's sudden appearance. Rodrigo is unable to convince Lucio to put aside his bitterness and anger against his father.

One night, Lucio goes to his father to demand his share of the family fortune. Unaware that Cleto is standing behind him, Lucio is suddenly trapped. Rodrigo hears the commotion, covers his face with a hood and helps Lucio escape.

Hooded man helps Lucio escape

Unaware that he was followed by one of Terong's men, word quickly reaches Terong's ears as to the real identity of Lucio Terong hatches a plan to kill Lucio and the old leader. But the plan is overheard by the leader's daughter and she immediately tells Lucio about it.

Lucio goes to his father again, this time to warn him. The reason behind Terong's hatred of the Montenegro clan is revealed. It was Don Silvestre and his aide, Cleto, who ordered the death of Terong's father, Kidlat.

Lucio returns to the bandits' lair to find the old leader dead. The dead man's young daughter is tortured brutally and killed. Panic grips the Montenegro household when a shootout occurs among the three brothers, which Don Silvestre tries to stop. Terong's group attacks the hacienda and burns the Montenegro house down. Rushing out of the burning house, Aurora and Don Silvestre are cut down by gunfire. Terong has had his revenge but Lucio and Amado believe it is Rodrigo who killed their fathe r; Rodrigo, on the other hand, believes Lucio and Amado killed his mother, Aurora. Terong, before leaving the scene, shoots Cleto.

Elena, Rodrigo's girlfriend, is abducted by Terong's men and taken to the bandits' cave to be ravished by Terong. But Terong's mistress is consumed by jealousy and kills Terong. Lucio and Rodrigo meet and a fight ensues. Cleto, although dying, arrives at the cave with Amado but lives long enough to reveal the truth to everyone: he was behind every move to foment discord among the brothers… because he wanted his sister and Rodrigo to inherit the old man's fortune.

Manuel Conde

Manuel Conde is best remembered for his Juan Tamad series which he starred in and directed, most of which were done by his own outfit. But at LVN, he was a major force and directed some of the biggest films (in color and CinemaScope) that unfortunately no longer survive today. He made lavish musicals and costume films, as well as satirical comedies like Pilipino Kostum, No Touch (1955). But El Robo and another film, Venganza (1958) show yet another side of the director's genius, that is litt le known and, even less appreciated today.

El Robo is also unique in its disturbing scenes of graphic violence, some of them rather strong even by today's standards. One wonders how that was possible in the straitlaced world of the 1950s, or in a major studio where escapist entertainment was regular fare.

Boiling water is poured over
the young girl by one of Terong's men.

Lucio fights furiously to protect the girl

The girl stabs her tormentor
with a piece of burning firewood.

Brothers on horseback

El Robo is like a Filipino 'Western' but only superficially. The characters are believable because they inhabit real worlds, like the feudal hacienda, a reality most Filipinos at that time could understood all too well. Some scenes are reminiscent of American Westerns, but the film remains rooted in Filipino settings. Unfortunately, this growing obsession with the American Western degenerated into farce in the sixties and seventies when the Filipino Western became honest-to-goodness imitati ons of the American model, complete with brown-skinned, flat-nosed cowboys, beerhouse type saloons, and barn dances in houses with galvanized roofing.

NOTES: DVD is a burned copy only but guaranteed copied from the only existing master copy.
Copying is done entirely by LVN Pictures.
This vintage video is not a restored version.

( US$ 29.99 DVD )

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