“We’re gonna lose it, Chuy — that dime’s running out!”
Shortly after moving to Tijuana with his older sister (Barbara Luna), a young orphan (Roger Mobley) befriends a group of street hustlers (led by Rafael Lopez) who place weekly long-shot bets at a local racetrack through a friendly American acquaintance (Paul Langton). When the boys “borrow” a dime from their church donation box and unexpectedly win a bet worth $81,000, they discover that Langton has left town, and are unsure who to trust with cashing their winning ticket.
This hard-to-find MGM “indie” flick possesses an engaging no-name cast, an unlikely setting (the border town of Tijuana), and a compellingly child-centered narrative. Upon its release, Bosley Crowther of The New York Times noted that “the word for this unexpected little movie is likable”, and his assessment still rings true — indeed, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the boys’ travails, and wish them well. While Disney-favorite Roger Mobley is too obviously made-up with brown skin and darkened hair to appear Latino, his compatriots are more authentic-looking, and ringleader Rafael Lopez (whose role is ultimately larger than Mobley’s anyway) emerges as a skilled young actor with charisma. The story isn’t quite neo-realist — it’s too carefully crafted for that — but one at least gets the sense that these characters could really exist; even “Mr. Jones” — the “rich” American who acts as the children’s go-between — transcends cliche and becomes a believable supporting player. Be forewarned, however, that the ending may leave you dissatisfied.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Rafael Lopez as Chuy
- Paul Langton as “Mr. Jones”
- Fine attention to humorous detail
No, but it’s certainly worth a look if you can locate a copy. Listed as a Sleeper and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.