Novelist Carlos Fuentes' speculation about what actually befell writer Ambrose Bierce when he joined Pancho Villa's revolution down Mexico way in 1913 makes a fascinating story, rich in character, relationships and cultural clashes. The film, though it doesn't look partic- ularly good and often sounds rather literary, certainly bulges with content, and the principals, Bierce (Peck), middle-aged spinster Harriet Winslow (Fonda) and revolutionary general Arroyo (Smits) grab the dramatic opportunities with both hands. Bierce's predicament, cynical, self-disgusted and seeking a meaningful death, echoes that of the hero in The Petrified Forest. In the autumn of his years, he finds a surrogate family, a daughter, and a satisfying quietus. The Fonda part - besides carrying the voice-over - is something of a stereotype, initially brittle and later melted by love. The film can't substantiate its claim to play out the personal drama in terms of this turbulent period of history, but it's a worthy project, and will probably send people back to the book and - even better - to Bierce.