Shooting ¡Alambrista! with Edward James Olmos

On Film / Short Takes — Apr 18, 2012

Though his role in it was small, the Oscar-nominated actor Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver, Battlestar Galactica) cites Robert M. Young’s ¡Alambrista! as one of the most important films he’s ever made. This authentic rendering of the workaday lives of illegal Mexican immigrants laboring in the U.S. to support their families back home uses one indelible character—Roberto Ramírez, played by Domingo Ambriz—to represent a segment of the population whose members are often used as political pawns; it’s a social issue that has rarely shown up on movie screens, either before or since this film’s release in 1977. Olmos, whose father was a Mexican immigrant, was thirty when Young cast him in ¡Alambrista!, and it was only his second appearance on film. In this clip from an interview included in our new release, Olmos talks about his largely improvised scene—one of many in the film that blur the line between documentary and fiction.