The Milagro Beanfield War (1988) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Milagro Beanfield War1988

The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)



Critic Consensus: Arguably Robert Redford's most inchoate work, The Milagro Beanfield War has plenty of beautiful moments, but they don't quite add up to a worthwhile whole.

The Milagro Beanfield War Photos

Movie Info

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

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (8)

Magazine articles about its making have outlined the problems: multiple script changes, wholesale reshooting. The tinkering appears to have eroded the film's basic core. It is now a series of audience-pleasing turns, with little sense of unity.

July 22, 2019 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Redford and company have put a quirky twist on the material, investing it with a quasi-mystical aspect as well as some raw comedy.

November 7, 2007 | Full Review…

Fairly choked with good intentions, whimsy, touches of fantasy, and cardboard liberal stereotypes.

November 7, 2007 | Full Review…

Redford's film sustains a slow mood of simpatico amiability and photographs the landscape with moony or golden washes that are perhaps hard to dislike, but is slain by its adherence to an outdated populist mythology.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

The film is very big on sunsets and sunrises. It also has a touristy appreciation for all manner of things folkloric. What it doesn't have is dramatic coherence or backbone.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2/5

Corny, you bet. But that's to be admired in an old war horse on the last frontier.

January 1, 2000 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Milagro Beanfield War


Preachy but well acted. Redford at times is more concentrated on the message rather than allowing the film to put that forward naturally.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Great movie by Robert Redford, Sonia Braga is phenomenal!

Leo L
Leo L

Super Reviewer

The Milagro Beanfield War Quotes

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