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The Mexican Film Bulletin The Mexican Film Bulletin
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
Mexican Film Bulletin
Volume 17 Number 4
JulyJuly-August 2011
Dutch oil engineer and frequently moved his family
around the world. Linda Christian started acting in
Hollywood in 1944 and worked in international films and
television sporadically throughout the '50s and '60s (plus a
few Italian films in the late 1980s), but never appeared in
(although some
sources claim
she had a bit
part in El
peñón de las
ánimas, filmed
in Mexico in
1942; she was
also in Tarzan
and the
Mermaids, a
film shot in
Acapulco and
at the Estudios
In contrast, her
sister Ariadna Welter (born in 1930) had a significant
acting career in Mexican cinema. Linda and Ariadna
appeared together in the independent Hollywood feature
The Devil's Hand.
Linda Christian married Tyrone Power in 1949 (earlier,
she had been romantically linked with Errol Flynn) and
they had two children before divorcing in 1956: Romina
Power (who acted in Europe and forged a singing career
with her husband) and Taryn Power, who made her acting
debut in Mexico in María (1971). In the 1960s, Christian
was briefly married to actor Edmund Purdom.
Lilia Michel
Actress Lilia Michel died of heart failure on 10 August
2011. She was 85 years old. Lilia Larios was born in July
1926 in Mexico City
and studied acting
with Seki Sano before
making her screen
debut in Naná (1944).
She married fellow
actor Rafael Baledón
that year; they had 5
children. After
Baledón's death in
1994, Lilia Michel
was briefly married to
Wolf Ruvinskis but
was widowed once
again in 1999.
Lilia Michel won
two Best Supporting
Actress Ariel Awards
early in her career, for Un beso en la noche and Vértigo.
In the early 1950s, she and Baledón appeared together as
husband and wife in Había una vez un marido and Sí, mi
vida, two "situation
comedy" films. Although
Michel was off-screen for
most of the '50s and '60s
(raising her children,
presumably), she returned
to films and television in
the late 1960s and made
her last film appearance
in Fuera de la ley (aka
Reclusorio II) one of the final trio of star-studded
"Reclusorio (Crimen y castigo)" features directed by
Ismael Rodríguez in late 1995. Although she subsequently
worked on several telenovelas, Michel retired from acting
in 1998 and spent her time painting and enjoying her large
Embarassment of Riches
Last month I relocated to my new house, and while I'm
still far from unpacked and settled, I've been enjoying
(alright, I've been
recording for future
enjoyment) the
offerings of channels
"De Película Clásico,"
"De Película," and
several other Spanishlanguage movie
Consequently, the percentage of MFB reviews of "classic"
Linda Christian
Blanca Rosa Welter, better-known as actress Linda
Christian, died of cancer on 22 July 2011. Welter was
born in Tamaulipas in November 1923; her father was a
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
John Novak--who also worked under the name "John
Drake"--was an actor and stage magician who came to
Mexico in the 1960s, a relatively good time for foreigners
to break into films there. In addition to Hollywood
"names" such as Boris Karloff, John Carradine, Cameron
Mitchell, Nick Adams, Jeffrey Hunter, Martha Hyer,
Shirley Jones, etc., younger gringos and gringas like
Elizabeth Campbell, Amadee Chabot, Arthur Hansel, and
Roger Cudney found employment south of the border.
Novak signed with agent Blanca Estela Limón, who at
the time also represented Elizabeth Campbell, Armando
Silvestre, Begoña Palacios, Renata Seydel, and Hilda
Aguirre. He appeared in and/or directed nearly two dozen
commercials, was a featured guest on a number of
television programs (showcasing his magic skills), posed
for print ads and fotonovelas, and made Las amiguitas de
los ricos and then Peligro...mujeres en acción (although
his part in the latter film was trimmed drastically when the
producers scaled back the production), all before the age of
However, as a
married man with two
children, Novak had
responsibilities and the
economic situation in
Mexico was not bright,
even for a multitalented güero leading
magician! So, after 8
years in Mexico, the
Novicki family
relocated to the USA
and Jack enrolled in the
Germain School of Photography in New York, then began
a long career as a commercial photographer. Still active
today as a digital document and photo restorer, Jack
Novicki lives in New Jersey.
[Many thanks to Jack Novicki for providing
information about his work in Mexican cinema, and for
many of the photos included in this article.]
cine mexicano will probably increase in the upcoming
months and years.
By the way, moving, unpacking, etc., are my main
excuses for the lateness of this issue of MFB.
A Gringo in Cine Mexicano
Some years ago, I received an e-mail from "John
Novak," who had appeared in Las amiguitas de los ricos
(1967). John Novak, or to be more accurate, Jack Novicki,
is now retired and living in
New Jersey, and--as so often
happens--did not have a copy
of the Mexican films he'd
worked on. Although I'd seen
Las amiguitas de los ricos (it
was included in my dissertation
about gringos in Mexican
cinema), I didn't own a copy at
the time (I did have
Peligro...mujeres en acción, in
which he also appeared).
However, 4 years later the film
turned up online, and I was able
to send Jack a copy.
Although a fair number of
estadounidenses had careers in Mexican cinema, this was
not necessarily an easy life. Just as Latin performers found
themselves typecast (at the very least as "foreigners," if not
solely as Mexicans or
Hispanics) in Hollywood,
Anglos were limited to
certain roles in Mexican
movies. Furthermore, the
smaller scope of the
Mexican entertainment
industry meant less work
for everyone, and most
particularly for
"specialist" performers.
To make a living, actors
had to (and still do) do films, television, stage plays and/or
"variety" theatre, advertisements, fotonovelas, radio, and
so on, in addition to whatever non-acting jobs they could
de los ricos
of the Rich]
(Interfilms, 1967)
Dir-Scr: José
Díaz Morales;
Story/Adapt: Alfredo Varela [Jr.]; "Literary Version":
Antonio Vies; Photo: Raúl Domínguez; Music: Enrico C.
Cabiati; Theme Song: Irvin [sic] Taylor & Ken Lane
("Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime"); Prod Mgr:
Roy M. Fletcher; Asst Dir: Fernando Durán; Film Ed:
Federico Landeros; Camera Op: Roberto Jaramillo; Asst
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
alternate takes or added footage). The "C" rating was
therefore probably generated by the relatively liberal view
towards sexual matters expressed in the films (at least right
up until the end of each movie, when conservative mores
almost always triumphed).
Las amiguitas de los ricos and Mujeres, mujeres,
mujeres both went before the cameras in January 1967.
The crews were almost identical, and various performers
appeared in both movies, although Mujeres, mujeres,
mujeres was a multi-story picture with three distinct
"episodes" (these being STIC productions) and thus had
three different casts. For some reason, Mujeres, mujeres,
mujeres was given a "D"--adults only--rating rather than a
Las amiguitas de los ricos has two special points of
interest: its
content and its
(who is rather
prominent and
than usual). [I
personally add
a third point:
Fanny Cano,
whose mere
presence makes a film worth watching, at least in my
opinion!] Otherwise, the film suffers from a sloppy,
illogical script which splices together its various scenes
without much regard for clarity or continuity or
chronology (not to mention the usual lapses in common
sense which are endemic in melodramas).
Example: at some indeterminate point in the past, Nora
strolls past a group of university students. One of them,
Julio (who says he's "almost an architect"), has just said
"the only women worth anything are foreigners." He flirts
with Nora and she rejects him coldly, then a street
photographer takes a photograph of them. Years (?) later,
Julio just happens to be the editor and proprietor of a
"lonely hearts club"
magazine (what
happened to
architecture?) and is
randomly invited to a
Christmas Eve dinner at
which Nora is also
present. Julio still has
the snapshot of them
together, how
sentimental! However,
he becomes convinced
Nora is a...let's say, "courtesan," and although he says he
"loves" her, he repeatedly (both on and after Christmas
Eve, although exactly how much time elapses between
their meetings is also unclear) tries to get her into bed,
Cam: Antonio Ruiz; Lighting: Rubén Méndez; Makeup:
Graciela Muñoz; Recordist: Heinrich Henkel; Asst Rec:
Ricardo Saldívar; Union: STIC
Cast: Ana Bertha Lepe (Betty), Maricruz Olivier (Lia
aka Rosalía), Fanny Cano (Nora), Sara García (Luz
Romero), León Michel (Tony Casasús), YuYu (María),
Arturo Cobo (Lupito del Vergel), Augusto Benedico
(Raimundo), Carlos Cortés (Julio Hernández), John Novak
(Richard McDonald), Antonio Raxel (Pedro), Pedro
D'Aguillón (Casto González de la Garza), Consuelo Frank
(Consuelo, Casto's wife), Federico del Castillo (friend of
Julio), Claudia Martell (sexy widow), Elvira Lodi, Roy
Fletcher, Roberto Meyer (village priest), Enriqueta
Carrasco (Raimundo's wife), Orlando Rodríguez (Santa
Notes: in the late 1960s, a number of Mexican
producers began making "adult"-themed films. Adultery,
infidelity, homosexuality and other themes were explored,
and characters included mistresses, prostitutes, pimps,
swingers, newlyweds, etc. René Cardona Jr., José Díaz
Morales and others directed performers such as Mauricio
Garcés, Enrique Rambal, Silvia Pinal, Ana Bertha Lepe in
these pictures, which were in some ways precursors to the
fichera genre of the '70s and the sexy-comedies of the '80s.
A number of the films were anthologies or at least multicharacter narratives with numerous sub-plots. Examples
include Don Juan 67, Siempre hay una primera vez, Un
nuevo modo de amar, El día de la boda, El amor y esas
cosas, El despertar del lobo, Como pescar marido,
Trampas de amor, Mujeres, mujeres, mujeres (there was
also a Muchachas, muchachas, muchachas), Click-fotógrafo de modelos, El cuerpazo del delito, etc.
One of the most prolific companies making this type of
picture was "Interfilms," which produced 18 features in
1967-70 alone. Interfilms was run by Pedro A. Calderón;
José Díaz Morales --who had been associated with the
Calderón family before, directing some of their notorious,
ground-breaking "nude scene" features of the mid-1950s-helmed the majority of the company's movies. Although
most if not all of the Interfilms product (released through
Columbia Pictures) was rated "C" (roughly equivalent to
an "R" in today's MPAA system), overt nudity was not a
significant factor, at least in the Mexican versions (it's
possible prints intended for international release contained
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
pairs off with Richard, Lía with Tony, and Julio with Nora.
Nothing untoward goes on, because only Betty is
interested in having sex with her new boyfriend, and
before anything can happen between them, Richard gets
an emergency call to report to work (he's employed at the
satellite tracking station in Guaymas). Raimundo and
Pedro show up, angry, but are unable to make a big deal of
it because Lía's mother is present. They depart and then
Doña Luz hustles the other men out, including Lupe (who
was only pretending to be gay).
even tearing her dress at one point. Then they reconcile
because...Nora comes back to him?! So we've got
muddled chronology, outrageous coincidence, mistaken
impressions, and completely illogical actions. And that's
just one sub-plot!
Lía and Betty are the
mistresses of Raimundo
and Pedro, respectively.
The older men, both
married, pay for the
women's luxurious
lifestyle in Cuernavaca,
but visit only on the
weekends. On one such
weekend, Raimundo and
Pedro are accompanied by
their friend from
Monterrey, Casto, who expects to be set up with Nora, a
friend of Lía. Nora hasn't decided to enter the life of a
kept woman: she joins the
party (which involves
skinny-dipping by the
women and other diversions)
but refuses to sleep with
Casto. Lía and Betty ask
their boyfriends to spent
Christmas Eve with them
"decently," but Raimundo
and Pedro merely deliver
their gifts (a diamond ring
for Betty and the paperwork for a new car for Lía) and
then depart to spend the holiday with their families (Casto
didn't make it at all: "he's
in the hospital"). In
revenge, the women
decide to invite 3 strangers
to share their dinner.
Julio, editor of a matchmaking magazine, is
called on the spur of the
moment and agrees to
attend, bringing along his
friend Tony, a womanising
undertaker. To complete the trio, they pick up drunken
gringo Richard, found clinging to a lamp post ("he has a
defect: he's American and he's drunk," Julio says--wouldn't
that be two defects?). Lía's servant María arranges for her
own date, but is
disappointed when
the effeminate
Lupe shows up.
The party is
just getting started
when Lía's elderly
mother Luz arrives
unexpectedly from
the provinces. Lía
and her friends
claim the young
men are their fiancés. Everyone enjoys themselves--Betty
A few days later (again, the chronology is unclear,
although it isn't New Years yet), Pedro appears and gives
Betty a diamond ring to apologise, but she rejects it (and
returns one he had given her earlier): she's been listening
to Richard on the short-wave radio as he chats about her to
the orbiting Gemini astronauts passing over Mexico.
Ashamed of her prior life, Betty decides to go away so
Richard can't find her and propose marriage (as he has
indicated he will do). Lía gets a letter from the priest in
her hometown and learns her mother died on 16 it was apparently her kindly ghost who
spent Christmas Eve with her daughter and the others,
helping set them on the right path in life. Raimundo offers
to pay Lía's passage to Europe, but she breaks off their
Julio and Nora finally get together, and decide to
spend the New Year's holiday in the countryside. They
convince Lía and Betty to go along. Tony appears in his
hearse and confesses his true love for Lía. As they drive
off, Betty spots Richard standing beside the road and they
are also reunited.
In addition to the
twist regarding the
ghost of doña Luz
(handled reasonably
well, with a few
well-placed clues
only obvious in
retrospect), Las
amiguitas de los ricos also includes a cameo appearance
by Santa Claus! The film opens with a scene in Heaven
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
lion's share of the footage, it wasn't necessary to pair her
character with the gringo male (one might expect quite the
opposite). Worth noting, however is the original depiction
of Betty as a wholly mercenary character who,
furthermore, affects an Italian accent--one might say she is
already practically a foreigner herself. And yet, by falling
in love with a gringo who goes against the stereotype of
"Americans" as a people obsessed with business and
money, she discards these false values and resumes her
Mexican identity.
Consequently, Las amiguitas de los ricos is a rare
example of a Mexican movie which places a young and
handsome male gringo in a Mexican milieu, gives him a
major role, depicts him sympathetically, pairs him up with
the leading lady (at least in terms of billing), and lets them
live happily ever after.
The technical aspects of Las amiguitas de los ricos are
adequate. José Díaz Morales had little discernable
directorial style but was a competent craftsman. Most of
the film was shot on location in somebody's luxurious
house in Pedregal (curiously, in the final scene, two huge
dogs can be spotted frolicking in the yard, although they
appear in no other scene). The performances are all
professional, within each performer's limitations and style.
Yu Yu (Varela) and Arturo Cobo handle the comic relief
and towards the end of the film even go through a sort of
carpa routine: Lupe proposes to María and she agrees, but
says he has to help support her invalid uncle...her little
brother...her uncle's wife...etc., with the appropriate
grimaces and gesticulations by Lupe each time. Fanny
Cano is strikingly beautiful but frozen-faced as always,
Maricruz Olivier carries the heavy melodramatics, Sara
García is her usual stalwart self (in one scene, she's
referred to as abuelita--even though in the context of the
film she's no one's grandmother--which references her
nickname of "the grandmother of Mexico"). Carlos Cortés
and León Michael are adequate, while John Novak does a
good job, although he'd have been easier to take if he
hadn't been saddled with the stereotypical gringo's pidginSpanish dialogue.
Trivia note: the oft-repeated theme song of Las
amiguitas de los ricos is an instrumental version of
"Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime," a major hit for
Dean Martin in the mid-1960s.
(shown as a black void, oddly enough): God (unseen,
heard in voiceover) warns Santa Claus not to meddle in the
lives of adults on Earth. He must limit his activities to
making children happy; Santa Claus agrees but breaks his
word, causing a Christmas tree to mysteriously appear in
the yard of Lía's house (which inspires the Christmas Eve
party), and later appearing on the street to ask Lía, Betty,
and Nora what they want for Christmas (Betty--a diamond
ring; Nora--true love; Lía--to freeze time).
The other aspect of interest--the presence of gringo
Richard McDonald--is curious in several ways. While
gringos have appeared in Mexican cinema since at least
the 1920s, most of the favourable U.S. characters are
women or older men (such as Cliff Carr). Young male
gringos were not especially prominent in Mexican films
(especially prior to the 1980s), and were often portrayed as
villains or at least unsympathetic weaklings. However,
while Richard displays some stereotypical attributes--he's
clumsy (mostly because he's drunk), speaks heavilyaccented, grammatically-shaky Spanish, is attracted to
Mexican women, and is presented as something of a näif-he is by no means an unpleasant or negative character and
is rather readily
accepted by Lía,
Betty, and the
others. Doña
Luz says "these
Americans never
grow up. But
they're very
Richard is given
a personality and
a back-story,
another rarity for Mexican cinema gringos (actually, he's
referred to as an americano several times, which is not the
usual practice in Mexican movies, where gringos are
usually called gringos or norteamericanos or
estadounidenses). In fact, the Richard-Betty sub-plot
occupies much more screen time than either the
dysfunctional Julio-Nora romance or the almost
nonexistent Lía-Tony story: although Ana Bertha Lepe
was top-billed and would thus be expected to have the
Los millones del Chaflán [Chaflán's Millons]
(Productores Unidos, 1938) Prod: Alfonso Sánchez Tello;
Dir: Rolando Aguilar; Adapt-Dialog: José Díaz Morales,
Josep Carner Ribalta; Story: Alejandro Galindo; Photo:
Gabriel Figueroa; Music: Gonzalo Curiel; Prod Chief: Luis
Sánchez Tello; Asst Dir: Miguel Delgado; Film Ed:
Charles Kimball; Art Dir: Jorge Fernández; Choreog:
Edmundo Santos; Sound Rec: B.J. Kroger
Cast: Carlos López "Chaflán" (Prisciliano Ordóñez "El
Chaflán"), Emma Roldán (Remedios), Joaquín Pardavé
(Rómulo Valdés), Pedro Armendáriz (Antonio), Gloria
Marín (manicurist), Carmelita [Bohr] (Rosita), Carlos
López Moctezuma (Alberto de los Ríos), Rafael Icardo
(Emilio Carrasco), Lucha María Ávila (Chaflán's youngest
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
invest in an automated milking invention. In the end,
Chaflán is threatened with prison for fraud, but Antonio
and Rómulo nab Alberto before he can abscond with the
cash. The oil company gives back Chaflán's land because
no oil was found there, and the family returns to the small
village of Vallecillo (where a modern school has been
constructed thanks to a cash gift from Chaflán).
Los millones del Chaflán is extremely slick and wellproduced for the period: some footage was shot on location
and there are also some large and luxurious sets on display.
There are plenty of extras (especially in the final scenes, in
which hundreds of people line the streets as Chaflán comes
home), and one very elaborate musical number (a swing
dance at Chaflán's costume ball--there are also two songs
performed in a cabaret), as well as a long-ish fashion show
daughter), Hernán Vera (Bautista, major domo), José
Chávez, Manuel Buendía, Jorge Treviño (insurance
salesman), Arturo Manrique "Panseco" (book salesman),
Cliff Carr (Jacky Robinson), Arturo Soto Rangel (notary),
Agustín Isunza (modiste), Alfonso Ruiz Gómez (Alberto's
accomplice), Víctor Velázquez, Gustavo Aponte, Gonzalo
Curiel, Carlos Max García, Alpiste (bellhop), David Valle
González (offended party guest #2), Raúl Guerrero
(announcer), Tito Junco, Victor Junco, Max Langler
(Amadeo de Ceboya, undertaker), Jorge Marrón (Anselmo
Menchaca, real estate salesman), Miguel Montemayor
Notes: this is an
amusing and
elaboratelyproduced comedy
utilising the triedand-true "country
vs. city" theme.
Although the title
suggests the film
would be a vehicle
for the comic talents of Carlos López "Chaflán," this is
actually an ensemble piece and Chaflán is by no means the
sole attraction. López generally played supporting roles as
good-natured rural types; one of his most famous roles was
in Ay Jalisco, no te rajes! (1941). Ironically, that was one
of the actor's final movies, as he died tragically in 1942 at
the age of 53.
Los millones del Chaflán begins in New York City: the
manager of the "State Promoting Co." sends Alberto to
Mexico to obtain an oil lease option on the ranch owned by
Prisciliano Ordóñez "El Chaflán." Alberto loses out to the
"Golden Drum Oil Company" (despite its name, a Mexican
corporation), but insinuates himself into the confidence of
the Ordóñez family, especially Chaflán's social-climbing
wife Remedios. Although Chaflán doesn't want to sell his
property, his wife and children urge him to do so, and they
all move to
Mexico City,
accompanied by
town barber
reminds everyone
that he's been in
the capital before.
The usual
horde of
importunate salesmen descends on the new arrivals
(Rómulo facilitates the family's purchases, pocketing a
10% cut from each vendor): they buy a large mansion, new
clothes, Chaflán takes up golf, they throw a masked ball
for high society, etc. Remedios is happy but her oldest
daughter Rosita misses her ranchero boyfriend Antonio.
Rómulo opens a fancy barber shop in the city and
romances a cute manicurist. Alberto helps everyone get
acclimated, but he is actually planning a massive scam to
separate Chaflán from his fortune, convincing him to
The comedy in Los millones del Chaflán is very lowkey and character-based, with very little slapstick and few
actual "jokes." Chaflán is depicted as a decent fellow (the
first thing he does when he receives the money for his
ranch is donate a large sum to build a school) who's a little
out of his element in the big city (although he adapts fairly
well); Remedios is self-centered and snobbish; Rómulo is
crafty but also somewhat naive. As noted above, Rómulo
takes a commission on everything sold to Chaflán and
purchases a barber shop with it, but when Chaflán loses his
fortune at film's end, Rómulo hands over his savings and
says the shop is actually in Chaflán's name as well.
Mistaken identity is a repeated theme in the script:
Alberto poses as an archeologist to fool the rival oil
company agent, who in turn introduces himself as a
climatologist (despite the fact his car has "Golden Drum
Oil Company" painted on the door!). When Chaflán and
his family
arrive in
Mexico, they
mistake a real
estate salesman
for the head of
Golden Drum,
then toss a
bucket of water
on the actual
oil company
executive, thinking he's another salesman. At the
masquerade ball, Chaflán throws out two guests, believing
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
them to be the obnoxious life insurance and encyclopedia
salesmen who have been pestering him--however, the
ejected men are actually Middle Eastern diplomats, who
challenge Chaflán to a duel to assuage the insult to their
honour. Yet another mixup ensues, and the two diplomats
shoot each other by mistake.
The performances are assured and professional--,
Roldán, Pardavé, and López Moctezuma go through their
paces smoothly.
Pedro Armendáriz
doesn't have much
to do, but he's
handsome and
earnest, and plays
opposite Carmelita
Bohr, whom he
married in 1938
(their son is actor
Pedro Armendáriz
Jr.). Bohr, like Armendáriz, fades into the background
when the more experienced and colourful performers take
over the middle section of the movie. Los millones del
Chaflán was the first film for Gloria Marín, who's cute (if
a little plump) and gets to sing a comic song about
Chaflán. Hernán Vera has a larger than usual role (if you
know the rotund Hernán Vera, I suppose that's sort of a
pun), and the cast includes other familiar names and faces,
including Arturo Soto Rangel, the Junco brothers (in bit
parts), Agustín Isunza, Arturo Manrique & Jorge Treviño,
and Cliff Carr.
Rafael Banquells (Marco Antonio, the Roman), Conchita
Carracedo (Elena), Julián de Meriche (Ptoloméo; cinema
cashier), Humberto Rodríguez (Roman citizen), Hernán
Vera (Roman senator Lépido), Pedro Elviro "Pitouto"
(Egyptian councillor), Miguel Manzano (Egyptian traffic
cop), Fernando Casanova (Roman soldier), Carlos
Villarías (Septimio), Juan José Laboriel (pyramid keeper);
Romans: Stefan Verne, Alfonso Jiménez "Kilómetro,"
Francisco Pando
Notes: finally, after about 20 years, I was able to see La
vida íntima de Marco Antonio y Cleopatra again, albeit in
a VHS-sourced copy apparently cut by 15-20 minutes from
its original running time (97 minutes is cited in García
Riera: the copy I obtained is about 78, though there are no
obvious gaps in the story).
To be honest, I had little or no memory of the film, so
it was as if I were seeing it for the first time, and my "first"
impression was of an extremely well-produced and directed comedy. The elaborate sets and large number of
extras make
it appear
that money
was spent
on the
movie, and
and editing
are aboveaverage for
cinema of the era.
The Roman setting of Vida íntima is reminiscent of
Roman Scandals (1933), which starred Eddie Cantor, as
well as the British film Fiddlers Three (1944): in each of
these movies, the protagonists are magically transported
back to ancient Rome (Fiddlers Three even includes an injoke reference to the Cantor film). Lo que va de ayer a
hoy (1945) reversed the process in Rip van Winkle
fashion, with a protagonist who awakes in 1945 Mexico
after 50 years in suspended animation. The title of La vida
íntima de Marco Antonio y Cleopatra seems to have been
inspired by a series of novels and films, including John
Erskine's "The Private Life of Helen of Troy" (novel
published 1925, filmed 1927), The Private Life of Henry
VIII (1933), and The Private Life of Don Juan (1934).
Despite his wife Elena's objections, Marco Antonio
Gutiérrez works for fake psychic "Professor" Julio, helping
bilk gullible clients.
Marco Antonio is in
love with Julio's
wife Cleo; she
encourages his
attentions, although
she is actually
planning to run
away with Julio's
medium, Octavio.
When Octavio and
Elena fail to appear for a seance with an important client,
La vida íntima de Marco Antonio y Cleopatra
[The Intimate Life of Marc Antony and Cleopatra]
(Filmex, 1946) Exec Prod: Alfredo Ripstein Jr.; Prod:
Gregorio Walerstein;
Dir: Roberto Gabaldón
[sic]; Scr: Tito Davison;
Adapt: Sixto Pondal
Ríos, Carlos Olivari;
Story: Leopoldo Baeza y
Aceves; Photo: José
Ortiz Ramos; Music:
Manuel Esperón; Assoc
Prod: Juan Parret; Prod
Chief: Manuel
Rodríguez G.; Asst Dir:
Ignacio Villareal; Film
Ed: Carlos Savage; Art
Dir: Luis Moya; Camera
Op: Mario González;
Spec FX: Hermanos
Machado; Animated
Titles: Saviur y Eddy; Costume Des: Armando Valdéz
Peza; Makeup: Dolores Camarillo; Chorego: Julián de
Meriche; Sound: B.J. Kroger; Sound Op: Rodolfo Benítez,
Enrique Rodríguez
Cast: Luis Sandrini (Marco Antonio Gutiérrez), María
Antonio Pons (Cleo; Cleopatra), Víctor Junco (Octavio,
then and now), José Baviera (Prof. Julio; Julio César),
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
number of times), which clearly influenced La vida íntima
de Marco Antonio y Cleopatra, particularly the scenes in
which Marco Antonio replenishes the royal coffers by
instituting fees for drivers' licenses and tags (applying
them to camels, horses and chariots rather than
automobiles), as well as some other anachronistic
innovations, including a group of Egyptian musicans
playing a tango and the rather spectacular sequence in
which Marco Antonio defeats a lion in the Coliseum. The
arena set itself is substantial and Marco Antonio's
interaction with a real lion is almost seamlessly done
(obviously a stunt double and even some stock footage was
probably used, but in some scenes it appears Sandrini was
actually working with the animal). There is even an
espontáneo (a spectator who leaps into the ring during a
bullfight), and the Roman audience rather quickly picks up
on the traditional shout of "Olé!"
Other topical references including a mention of the
Good Neighbor Policy,
a joke about Bing
Crosby, and Marco
Antonio stating the
conflict between Rome
and Egypt would be
over in a minute if he
had an atomic bomb
"but where would I get
the uranium?"
Although much of the
humour is based on
wordplay and anachronisms, there is some slapstick
(Marco Antonio bumping into a column and having his
armour all drop off) and character-based comedy as well.
Vida íntima was the first Mexican film for Luis
Sandrini, who had been a major star in Argentina since the
early 1930s. In La vida íntima de Marco Antonio y
Cleopatra, Sandrini's comic persona is relatively "normal"
--he's assertive but not aggressive and doesn't have much
special "business" other than a catch-phrase ("Mientras el
cuerpo aguante"--as long as the body can stand it) and the
occasional bemused look. Interestingly enough, although
Sandrini has a slight Argentine accent and sings/dances a
tango late in the movie, the script is coy about his
nationality. He tells Caesar he's from a continent "that
hasn't been discovered yet" (which could apply to either
North or South America) and in one scene claims he's from
Xochimilco (near Mexico
It is a bit odd that
Marco Antonio Gutiérrez
is depicted as at least
emotionally unfaithful to
his (initially shrewish,
later pleasant) wife Elena.
He's fully prepared to run
away with Cleo, his
employer's wife, even
taking his life savings in
cash and writing Elena a farewell note. After his sojourn
in ancient times, Marco Antonio realises Cleo (like her
Prof. Julio hypnotises Marco Antonio and sends him into
the spirit world. Instead of finding the client's late husband
Septimio, however, Marco Antonio meets the ghost of
Roman general Septimio (who gives the fascist salute--till
Marco Antonio warns him it's no longer politically
correct). When the police raid his offices, Prof. Julio flees
without awakening Marco Antonio from his trance.
Instead, Marco Antonio goes back to ancient Rome with
Septimio's spirit (before leaving, Marco Antonio grabs a
history book about Rome)--they mysteriously (and
illogically) become flesh-and-blood when they arrive.
The stranger is taken before Julio César, but runs afoul
of the emperor by predicting his death on the following
day. [When
Caesar asks how
he will die,
Marco Antonio
replies "Por
bruto." This
could mean
either "By
Brutus," or "Out
of stupidity."]
Sentenced to die
in the
gladiatorial arena, Marco Antonio defeats a lion
(employing bullfighting techniques) and his life is spared.
After Julio César is murdered, Octavio takes control of the
empire. Roman general Marco Antonio is ordered to
Egypt to parley with Cleopatra, but--warned of his fate if
he goes--he convinces Marco Antonio Gutiérrez to
substitute for him (when the general asks, Marco Antonio
says "have you been smoking marijuana?").
Cleopatra accepts Marco Antonio as the real thing, and
apparently falls in love. She also hopes to enlist him in her
plans to conquer the Middle East. This upsets her brother
Ptoloméo, who travels to Rome to denounce Marco
Antonio's betrayal. Octavio arrives in Egypt with a Roman
army, and Cleopatra switches sides immediately.
Disillusioned, Marco Antonio commits suicide by falling
on his own sword. This revives the unconscious Marco
Antonio in 20th-century Mexico. Now aware of Cleo and
Octavio's treachery, Marco Antonio goes home to his wife.
Stories in which a contemporary character is travels
back in time (or into the future) have long been popular.
One of the earliest was Mark Twain's 1889 novel "A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" (filmed a
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
namesake Cleopatra) is a treacherous gold-digger and
returns to his wife. Marco Antonio's suicide is also
slightly shocking--historical fact or not, seeing the leading
man in a comedy deliberately kill himself is a shock.
Viewers expecting a María Antonieta Pons musical will
be surprised that there are only two major dance numbers,
although she has significant screen time otherwise, both in
the contemporary sequences and the Roman scenes. The
dances are elaborately staged and filmed with some style,
including overhead
shots, long shots,
quick cuts and
other technical
niceties. Pons has
a semi-villainous
(dual) role here,
exploiting Marco
Antonio in both
eras and (in the
section) being unfaithful to her husband as well.
The rest of the cast is solid although no one has much
footage or personality: this is clearly a Luis Sandrini
vehicle, meant to establish him as a leading comic actor in
Mexican cinema after a long career in Argentina. Like
singer-actor Hugo del Carril--but unlike Libertad
Lamarque--Sandrini spent only a brief period in Mexico in
the 1940s before returning to his homeland, where he was
active in films right up until his death in 1980.
(Marquesa del Valle), Fernando Casanova (Rudy Almada),
Lili Acelmar (waitress-snitch), Julio Ahuet (detective),
Manuel Trejo Morales (Rico Bellini), Consuelo Pastor
(María), Jorge Fábregas (Arturo), Lilí Yabel (singer),
Enrique Rosas Ruiz, Bernardo Illañez V., Manuel Sánchez
Navarro (police chief), Ramón Bugarini (hotel desk clerk),
Juan B. Terraza (pianist), El Ballet de Chelo LaRue,
Dámaso Pérez Prado (bandleader), Enrique Zambrano
(Lucio del Castillo), Rogelio Fernández (tough guy)
Notes: although on the surface this might seem to be a
standard crime film about a suave jewel thief, Manos de
Seda more closely resembles a "women's melodrama,"
albeit with a male protagonist whose life is affected by 3
women (rather than the reverse).
Jorge, known as "Manos de Seda," steals the "Twins of
Brest" diamonds but is wounded by pursuing police and
takes refuge in the home of wealthy Estela del Castillo.
Learning she
was waiting
for her lover
to arrive (her
husband is out
of town),
blackmails her
into allowing
him to stay
until the heat
is off. They
become friends and Jorge helps her retrieve some
incriminating letters from her blackmailing "boyfriend"
Rudy. His debt to her discharged, Jorge departs.
Passing as a member of a prominent society family,
Jorge makes the acquaintance of Alonso Medina, the
detective in charge of capturing the mysterious "Manos de
Seda." Alonso is in love with Elsa, but she prefers Jorge.
Jorge is welcomed into the poker-playing circle of the rich
and eccentric Marquesa del Valle. He decides to steal her
emerald necklace, but when she confronts him he changes
his mind and decides to go straight, which pleases Elsa.
However, impoverished lawyer Arturo robs the Marquesa
himself, so he can afford to marry his sweetheart. Jorge
picks Arturo's pocket and returns the necklace so the
younger man won't ruin
his future.
As part of his plan to
reform, Jorge visits exgangster Rico, who now
owns a cabaret, and asks
him to purchase a house
and property where he
can retire. However, one
of the club waitresses is a police spy and Medina and his
men arrive to arrest Jorge. Jorge is tipped off by a grateful
Estela, whose husband is Medina's friend. He flees and
leaps off a cliff into a river to escape the police. Some
time later (two years according to the dialogue, yet Elsa's
baby looks much younger than that), Jorge is reunited with
Elsa, who now has a young child. Elsa is shocked to
discover "Manos de Seda" lost both hands (irony!) in his
Manos de Seda [Silk Hands] (Prods. Galindo
Hermanos, 1951) Prod: Eduardo Galindo; Dir-Scr: Chano
Urueta; Adapt: Eduardo Galindo; Orig. Story: José G.
Cruz; Photo: Enrique Wallace; Music: Gonzalo Curiel;
Prod Mgr: Porfirio Triay Peniche; Prod Chief: Guillermo
Alcayde; Asst Dir: A. Corona Blake; Film Ed: Jorge
Bustos; Art Dir: Ramón Rodríguez G.; Asst Photo: Carlos
Martel, Manuel Luna, Luis González; Mkup: Noemí
Wallace; Sound Supv: James L. Fields; Dialog Rec: José
de Pérez; Music/Re-rec: Galdino Samperio; Spec FX: José
Cast: David Silva (Jorge, "Manos de Seda"), Rita
Macedo (Elsa), Roberto Romaña (Detective Alonso
Medina), Eva Calvo (Estela del Castillo), Maruja Grifell
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
numbers which are completely irrelevant to the plot--even
moreso than usual for Mexican cinema--but the music is
good and these sequences contribute a little more
"atmosphere" to an otherwise fairly bland and style-less
flight from the law (this is a rather shocking scene).
and his
show up
and arrest
Jorge; Elsa
to wait for
him to be
Manos de Seda isn't a poor film, but it lacks focus and
has a number of illogical aspects and dangling plot threads.
The back-stories of the
various characters are alluded
to but never clearly
discussed: how did Jorge
become "Manos de Seda,"
when did he meet Elsa, how
did Elsa and Alonso become
acquainted, when did Elsa
and Jorge did they have the
time to get together and
conceive a child (or is the baby not Jorge's?), and so on.
The screenplay is separated into three fairly distinct parts,
each dealing in some way with Jorge's relationship with a
different woman: Jorge
and Estela, Jorge and
the Marquesa, and the
concluding section
(which to some extent
details Jorge's
relationship with Elsa,
but also contains the
undercover waitress
and--perhaps to
illustrate the future
wedded bliss Jorge and Elsa might experience--depicts
former criminal Rico and his wife María in a positive
David Silva plays a character slightly different than his
usual long-suffering everyman roles: as Manos de Seda,
he's confident, in control, self-assured. Only at the end
when he reveals the loss of his hands and surrenders to the
police does he revert to "Suffering Silva." Rita Macedo
has little to do, but Eva Calvo and Maruja Grifell are good
as the other two women in Jorge's life. Roberto Romaña
began appearing in films after working as a model for the
fotomontaje comic books of José G. Cruz. He had only a
brief screen career, working in 4 films based on stories by
Cruz and a handful of other movies, most directed by
either Chano Urueta or Juan Orol. He's adequate in Manos
de Seda in an under-written part.
The film's production values are satisfactory. Even at
this early date, Chano Urueta shows his penchant for
jarring and largely unnecessary back-projection, but the
film also includes a fair amount of "real" exterior shots and
some large sets. There are a couple of decent musical
Muchachos de barrio* [Boys of the
Neighborhood] (Películas Mexicanas-IFI, 1977) Dir:
León Klimovsky; Scr: Steve McCoy, Jacky Kelly, Henry
Soteh**; Orig. Novel: José Luis Martín Invigel; Photo:
Francisco Sánchez; Music: Enrique Escobar; Film Ed:
Emilio Ortiz
*Spanish title: Y ahora qué, señor fiscal? [And Now
What, Mr. Prosecutor?]; the Media Trading Network DVD
carries the Muchachos de barrio title but has a videogenerated sub-title "Condenado a muerte" [Condemned to
**Spanish sources credit: Scr: Steve MacCoy; Story:
Kelly Martín Vigil, José Luis Soteh
Cast: Valentín Trujillo (José Salgero Menéndez),
Leticia Perdigón (Paloma), Verónica Miriel (Rosa), Silvia
Solar (Julia Polanco), Ricardo Macip (?Sebastián "El
Mangas"), Susana Mayo (?aunt), ?María Martín
Notes: this Spanish-Mexican coproduction was shot in
Spain, possibly using money Películas Mexicanas earned
distributing Mexican movies in that country but couldn't
send back to the homeland. Curiously, the two main
players (Trujillo and Perdigón) were both Mexican--one
would expect one Mexican and one Spaniard, but in this
case the supporting cast is 100% Spanish. [note: some
sources erroneously credit Ignacio López Tarso, Fernando
Allende, and Lina Michel in the cast, but I guarantee none
of these appeared in the
version I saw, and I
seriously doubt if they
appear in any version.
By the way, these same
"sources" also give a
running time of 112
minutes, again unlikely.
Spanish sources list 100
minutes and the Mexican
version is 83 minutes.]
While the film was
clearly shot in Spain, the
Mexican version was
post-dubbed into
"Mexican" (Trujillo and
Perdigón do their own
dialogue) and there are no verbal references to the picture's
setting. Muchachos de barrio was based on a popular
1975 Spanish novel "Y ahora qué, señor fiscal?"
Although sold as a sort of "juvenile delinquent" movie
(the quinqui genre which produced the "Torete" movies
and others), Muchachos de barrio is actually more of a
melodrama, although there are some similarities between
this film and the quinqui pictures. The movie has a
fragmented narrative structure, and is mostly told in
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
Muchachos de barrio is well done and reasonably
restrained for a melodrama. Sure, Paloma gets pregnant
the first time she has sex (a melodrama staple), and her
father and older brother are snobs while her mother is
sympathetic but powerless (more stereotypes), but there
aren't a lot of overdone theatrics. The performances are all
fine. León Klimovsky makes sure to include a fair
amount of gratuitous female (and a bit of male) nudity,
right from the beginning. For example, José goes looking
for El Mangas in a brothel, and bursts into the wrong
room. He gets directions to the right room; the young
woman who speaks to him is holding a dress over her
chest, but when José leaves, the camera doesn't cut away
(as one would expect), instead it lingers as she drops the
dress and exposes her breasts for several seconds. Leticia
Perdigón has several nude scenes, as does Verónica Miriel
(made up to look like a whore because she plays...a
whore!), and the actress who plays Paloma's aunt is topless
and in lingerie in her murder scene. [note: some of the sex
scenes end rather abruptly, suggesting censorship.]
flashback as José and Paloma are interviewed by José's
defense attorney.
José lives in a poor barrio but strives to make a honest
living as an apprentice mechanic. During the summer, he
also works on the beach, renting paddle boats, and one day
he meets the youthful Paloma and her two friends. Despite
the differences in their socio-economic class (Paloma's
family is upper middle-class at least), the two young
people fall in love. One thing leads to another, and Paloma
becomes pregnant. Although this upsets her family, her
father finally agrees to allow them to wed, and even gives
José a job in his business and lets the couple live in his
luxurious apartment (their bedroom alone is larger than the
house José's family lives in).
However, José and Paloma are not happy with this
arrangement. Paloma's father forbids her little brother to
associate with José's younger brother, and demands an
accounting of the couple's actions. This precipitates a
break: they move out and José goes back to work in the car
repair shop. When they are invited to Germany for a
vacation, there is no money to spare, so Paloma comes up
with a plan to rob her wealthy aunt of just enough cash
(and a check) for the trip, certain the older woman won't
prosecute. José recruits his childhood friend "El Mangas"
as an accomplice.
The robbery goes
off as planned, but El
Mangas (who was
holding the money and
the blank check)
doesn't appear at the
appointed time to
share the booty. José
and Paloma learn her
aunt was raped and
murdered, and her
apartment plundered,
the night after their
burglary. They are
arrested, as is El
Mangas. El Mangas
denies being there on
two different nights,
and blames José for the murder and rape. José is
sentenced to death.
Just before the execution, El Mangas breaks down and
confesses: he went back to the apartment to take the jewels
and money he had been forced to leave behind the night
before. Surprised by the sudden return of the aunt, he
watched from hiding as she undressed and then raped and
strangled her. The prison guards go to tell José the good
news, and find him in his cell with his wrists slashed, and
"soy inocente" (I'm innocent) written in blood on the wall!
However, it appears he will survive. [Apparently, in the
original novel he dies, but in the movie Paloma's father
asks a priest "Will he be saved?" and the priest nods. I am
pretty sure he wasn't referring to the "salvation" of José's
soul--which, if he committed suicide, wouldn't be assured
Final note: this film was released on DVD by Media
Trading Network, with hilariously misleading cover art
suggesting it is some kind of cholo film! The photo of (a
much older) Valentin Trujillo on the front cover appears to
have sunglasses Photoshopped in, and the photo on the
back cover depicts him wearing a cowboy hat! There is
also photo of a gang of cholos in their plaid shirts and
bandannas. Anyone who purchased this DVD hoping for a
tale of gang warfare on the streets of L.A., Ciudad Juárez,
or Mexico City would be mighty disappointed! On the
other hand, the quality of the print is satisfactory (not
great, but with this company you never know) and Media
Trading Network DVDs are usually pretty cheap, so this is
a decent bargain for those in the know.
Mientras México duerme [While Mexico City
Sleeps] (Prods. Filmicas Agrasánchez, 1983) Exec Prod:
J. David Agrasánchez L.; Prod: Rogelio Agrasánchez L.;
Dir: Miguel M. Delgado; Scr: Jorge Patiño; Photo:
Antonio Ruiz; Music: Luis Arcaraz; Prod Mgr: Jorge
Moreno Rios; Film Ed: Jorge Rivera; Re-rec: Ricardo
Saldívar; Union: STIC
Cast: Sasha Montenegro (Durán's girlfriend), Wolf
Ruvinskis (Capt. Miguel Durán), Sergio Bustamante (Gil),
La Princesa Lea (dancer), Silvia Derbez (doña Remedios),
Guillermo Herrera (El Chalacas), Narciso Busquets
(Higinio Cervera), Sandra Duarte (Rosario), Héctor Sáez
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
crimes. Witnesses, including the concierge, cannot
identify the criminals in a line-up, but eventually a list of
former employees of the murdered lawyer yields a hit:
Higinio Cervera, who has a criminal record. Cervera is
arrested after a car chase, but is released for lack of
Higinio had tipped off Gil and the others to Betancourt
(who apparently kept a lot of money is his apartment), but
is now angry that the job failed and suspicion has fallen on
him. He murders Raymundo (shooting him four times in
the face with a silenced pistol). El Chalacas returns to the
nightclub and tries to rape the exotic gringa dancer in her
dressing room; failing at this, he flees and hijacks a cab,
but the cabbie's fellow drivers rally around to stop the
vehicle and El Chalacas is arrested.
Higinio knows El Chalacas will squeal if he is
interrogated, so he sends a lawyer to put up bail. He then
informs Gil that El Chalacas must be eliminated, but the
police rescue Chalacas at the last moment (Gil is shot to
death). Capt Durán and his men return to Higinio's
apartment to arrest him. Durán is mortally wounded by the
criminal, who is also killed.
Mientras México duerme does a good job juggling the
various sub-plots, switching from the three crooks to
Durán and then to the travails of Rubén's mother and wife
(who goes into labor and gives birth at approximately the
same time Rubén is being murdered). As alluded to
earlier, the scenes of Durán's "personal" life aren't very
frequent and aren't very believable, but at least the film
tries to give his character some depth. Of the four
criminals--Gil, El Chalacas, Raymundo, Higinio--it is
Chalacas, oddly enough, who has the most "personality"
(albeit a neurotic one). As Gil, Sergio Bustamante is (for
him) restrained, while Jorge Reynoso as Raymundo gets
one big scene (where he begs Higinio for his life). Narciso
Busquets, looking rather thin and old, is satisfactory as
Higinio. On the distaff side, Silvia Derbez does her usual
professional job as Rubén's sad and bitter mother, and it's
nice to see Sandra Duarte again (who had been in some
late '70s movies but never had much of a career). Princesa
Lea is big, loud, and brassy (and gets to do a couple of
strip tease numbers, although curiously she avoids full
frontal nudity whereas the other strippers--who also do
complete acts--have no such qualms).
The production values are decent--the movie was shot
mostly on location and there are some indications it
benefited from cooperation with various organizations,
including the police and a taxi company. Miguel M.
Delgado, best-known as the house director for Cantinflas,
nonetheless maintained a separate career and his "outside"
movies include some which are quite at odds with those he
made for Mexico's greatest comedian--a fair number of
these were crime pictures and even horror movies, such as
Cárcel de mujeres, Sábada negro, Misterios de la magia
negra, El asesino se embarca, Bajo el imperio del hampa,
Santo y Blue Demon contral Drácula y el Hombre Lobo,
etc. Delgado may not have demonstrated a particular
"style," but he was a professional and his movies are
generally slick and entertaining.
(Rubén), César Sobrevals (police agent), Alma Thelma,
Rocío Rilke, Michelle Dubois, Jorge Reynoso
(Raymundo), Mario Zabadua [sic] "Colocho" (Nicanor),
Mireya Cantú (bargirl), Carlos Canto, Alfonso Brito
(Cuco, detective), Mariana Georges, Jaime Reyes (police
agent), Enrique Márquez, Julián del Valle (?Julián),
Miguel Inclán, Ramiro Orel [sic Orci] (Col. Hernández),
Lucrecia Muñoz, José de Jesús Martínez, Elvira Orduña,
Aurelio Casares, María del Mar, Roberto Rayo, El
Regazón, Marcelo Villamil (Lic. Betancourt),
Notes: this movie is not related to the 1938 movie of the
same name (although both are crime films). It is a fairly
entertaining picture, but it does contain a particularly
egregious example of "false billing"--"star" Sasha
Montenegro appears for a total of about 5 minutes out of
the 90-minute running time! She shows up briefly at the
37 minute mark, then again at 72 minutes, and reappears at
1:27 for the last few moments of the picture. Her character
doesn't even have a name (that I could tell)! [Note: the
Film-Mex video box lists Montenegro and Jorge Reynoso
as the stars--Reynoso's character doesn't even make it halfway through the picture before being killed!]
However, the movie is decently scripted and put
together, features various exotic dances (and thus plenty of
nudity), and gives Wolf Ruvinskis a rare leading-man role
(unfortunately, he's much too old to be believable as Sasha
Montenegro's lover and the scenes of them smooching are
risible). The cast is sprinkled with familiar faces, always a
nice touch.
The movie's depiction of the Mexican police is fairly
positive--we even see them doing some forensic work.
This is offset by a scene in the offices of the Ministerio
Público, where the employees are too busy eating
sandwiches and reading magazines to release the body of a
murdered cabbie to his mother (until the office supervisor
gets a stern phone call from a higher-up).
Taxi-driver Rubén drops off his very pregnant wife
Rosario at her mother's apartment when he begins his night
shift. His first customer is a regular fare, an exotic dancer
who he takes to the nightclub where she works. [I do not
believe Princesa Lea's character has a name in this movie.
She speaks pretty good Spanish but the script has her lapse
into English several times, apparently to identify her as a
gringa--which she was.] Among the club's customers are
crooks Gil, El Chalacas, and Raymundo, who are waiting
for Higinio to show up. When he doesn't, they leave,
hijacking Rubén's cab. The criminals rob and murder
Rubén, leaving his corpse in a vacant lot. The trio then
visits a large apartment building, forcing their way inside.
The concierge and his daughter are bound and gagged.
Gil, El Chalacas, and Raymundo enter the apartment of
lawyer Betancourt, but the man's Doberman pinscher
attacks Chalacas, forcing them to shoot him. The lawyer
and his wife are also murdered, as are two other residents
of the building who get in the way of the fleeing criminals.
Police captain Durán is assigned to the case, leaving
his attractive girlfriend in the lurch. Blood tests on a
bloody hankerchief found in Rubén's abandoned cab match
blood in the Betancourt apartment (it's all blood from the
dog bite Chalacas suffered on his jaw), linking the two
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
decides to move to Orizaba to be near him! This means
Juan José's two families are now living in the same city,
and in fact Ramona and Luisa meet at a company function
and become friends!
Juanito is the first to discover his father's bigamy, and
he notifies his mother and Juan José's other wife and son.
They confront Juan José, who tells them (in a long,
stylized flashback) how it occurred:
Years before, Juan José married Luisa. However,
shortly after their marriage he went to Mexico City on
business, suffered an accident, and contracted amnesia (the
attending doctor says "I've never seen a case of amnesia,
except in the movies!"). Juan José falls in love with
Ramona, his nurse, and marries her. However, he takes
another fall and recovers his memory. He wants to divorce
one of his wives but they are both pregnant, so he decides
to live a double life.
Now that Juan José's masquerade has been exposed,
the families agonize over the solution. Since he wasn't
conscious of his bigamy, it isn't a crime, but he will have
to choose one wife (they won't let him continue on as he
has been). Finally, he divorces them both. As they are
leaving the court, the two women realize they still love
him, and begin to argue about who is going to re-marry
Juan José. However, he falls down a flight of stairs and
gets amnesia again! In the ambulance, he makes the
acquaintance of the lovely nurse Norma...
Much of Que haremos con Papá? focuses on the
rivalry between Juanito and José, who both work hard and
want to become sub-managers of the brewery (in one scene
José makes a speech and says "we have to change our
system of, bottling!"); they are also both in
love with Julia, but this works out all right because Julia
just happens to have a twin sister who is snapped up by
José. There is a little bit of farce involving Juan José
dodging his two
wives (he
disguises himself
as a waiter when
they both attend
a company
celebration), but
Luján, Costa and
(to a lesser
extent) Bonet
have the lion's
share of the
footage (Costa
also gets to sing
several songs,
and there is a long "folkloric" dance number as well).
Marga López and María Elena Marqués are pushed into
the background. Pancho Córdoba has one amusing scene
as a judge with a strange (Jewish?) accent (or maybe he
just has a cold), who lectures the family on the law
concerning bigamy. After he speaks a few sentences in
Latin, someone asks him if that was Otomí (an indigenous
A trivia note: Marga López (who was married twice to
Carlos Amador and had two sons by him) and Arturo de
Mientras México duerme isn't great but it holds one's
interest throughout.
Que haremos
con Papá? [What
Will We Do with
Grovas, 1965) Prod:
Jesús Grovas; Dir:
Rafael Baledón;
Scr: José María
Fernández Unsaín;
Photo: Rosalío
Solano; Music Dir:
Sergio Guerrero;
Asst Dir: Manuel
Ortega; Film Ed:
Carlos Savage; Art
Dir: José Rodríguez
Granada; Camera Op: Urbano Vázquez; Union: STPC;
Cast: Arturo de Córdova (Juan José Gómez), Marga
López (Ramona), César Costa (Juanito), Fernando Luján
(José), Alicia Bonet (Julia; her sister), María Elena
Marqués (Luisa), Miguel Angel Ferriz (Ricardo),
Francisco Córdoba (judge), Norma Navarro (Norma the
nurse), Armando Gutiérrez (doctor), Diana Trillo, Enrique
Fernández, Miguel Angel Garrido, Carlos Chávez
Notes: this is a reasonably entertaining comedy,
although Arturo de Córdova and María Elena Marqués are
not well-served by the Eastmancolor photography, which
makes them both look quite gaunt and aged. One
interesting facet of the picture is the fact that it was mostly
filmed on location in Orizaba, and features a lot of footage
of the Moctezuma brewery. Only the extended flashback
sequence appearances to have been shot in a studio. For
this reason, Que haremos con Papá? almost looks like one
of the co-productions shot outside of Mexico during this
period, with a lot of local color and a relatively small cast
of professionals, augmented by people hired on location.
Juan José Gómez is a chemist with the Moctezuma
brewery. He alternates spending 2 weeks in Orizaba at the
main plant with two weeks in Mexico City at the corporate
offices. What only Juan José and his friend Ricardo
(president of the company) know is that Juan José has a
wife and son in Orizaba (Luisa and Juanito) and a wife
and son in the capital (Ramona and José). His dual life
has gone smoothly for more than 20 years, but now both of
his sons have graduated from college with chemistry
degrees, and they both want to work for Moctezuma! Juan
José and Ricardo decide to hire them, but put them in
different parts of the brewery and give them difficult and
unrewarding work, so one (or both) will quit.
Nonetheless, the two young men almost immediately
meet and do not get along well. José becomes infatuated
with Julia, Juanito's fiancee, which causes greater conflict.
To top things off, Ramona misses her son so much that she
THE MEXICAN FILM BULLETIN Volume 17 Number 4 (July-August 2011)
Córdoba were lovers off-screen, although the actor had a
wife (from whom he was estranged) and a grown son. The
circumstances of their relationship may have been
coincidental to the plot of the movie (since in fact,
although they had been acquainted for years, their
romantic relationship did not begin until around this time,
lasting until de Córdova's death) but it is an odd
A curiosity piece and mildly amusing, but generally
remarks), it is odd to see the name of author Rafael F.
Muñoz (who wrote Vámonos con Pancho Villa!) in the
credits of this fluffy piece.
Gudelio Morantes and his revolutionary troops
"capture" an abandoned hacienda. Before the war,
Gudelio was the ranch foreman and he now installs himself
as the owner, and sends his captains Luciano and Macario
to town on a mission...abduct the lovely Valeria so he can
marry her! Luciano participates in a song contest and feels
he is cheated out of first prize, a 30-30 carbine, by
hometown favorite Valeria. In revenge, he flatters her
with romantic talk and then takes her back to the hacienda.
However, the fiery Valeria refuses to be dominated by
Gudelio. Instead, she makes a "treaty" with him, agreeing
not to escape in exchange for freedom from molestation.
She also meets with her uncle, the commander of the local
government troops, and convinces him not to attack
Gudelio while she's still a "prisoner." Angry at Luciano,
Valeria convinces Gudelio to make her a "colonel" in his
batallion, thus out-ranking Luciano and Macario. A series
of romantic clashes result: Luciano loves Valeria but is
outraged that she's deceiving Gudelio (who is his uncle as
well as commander); Valeria loves Luciano but thinks he's
a coward for failing to declare his love and defy Gudelio.
Valeria confesses to Gudelio, who challenges Luciano
to a duel. Instead, Luciano resigns his post and leaves.
Valeria follows and she and Luciano finally reconcile.
They return to the hacienda and marry. Gudelio learns the
Revolution ended "eight months ago"--he disbands his
private army and is named instructor of grammar in the
town's night school (which is ironic because he speaks in a
very un-grammatical manner).
Carabina 30-30 starts off in a fairly promising manner,
with nice color photography, pleasant songs, and the
presence of solid performers like Aguilar, Quintana, and
Soler, but it quickly degenerates into routine "Taming of
the Shrew"-like bickering between the two romantic
principals. It's still reasonably entertaining, but nothing
One amusing aspect is the casting of Argentine native
Quintana as a Mexican. Although she has no particular
accent and in fact rarely played Argentines on screen,
Quintana's first song is all about how she's from
"Guadalajara" and that just isn't true!
The poster illustrating this review is from Carabina 3030's release in Yugoslavia. In the 1950s, Mexican films
(especially period films about the Revolution, rancheras,
and other folkloric-themed movies) were extremely
popular in Eastern Europe. Soviet bloc audiences enjoyed
the music, colourful costumes, and melodramatic plots,
and their governments appreciated the fact that these films
were not coming from Hollywood or another
ideologically-suspicious Western nation.
Carabina 30-30 [30-30 Carbine] (Filmadora
Chapultepec, 1958) Prod: Jesús Galindo; Dir-Scr: Miguel
M. Delgado; Adapt: Eduardo Galindo; Story: Rafael F.
Muñoz; Photo: Gabriel Figueroa; Music: Manuel Esperón;
Prod Mgr: Porfirio Triay Peniche; Prod Chief: Ricardo
Beltri; Asst Dir: Moisés M. Delgado; Film Ed: Jorge
Bustos; Art Dir: Francisco Marco Chilet; Camera Op:
Ignacio Romero; Lighting: Daniel López; Makeup:
Armando Meyer; Sound Supv: James L. Fields; Dialog
Rec: Javier Mateos; Re-rec: Galdino Samperio; Sound Ed:
Reynaldo Portillo; Color Tech: J. F. Haquette; Union:
STPC; Eastmancolor and Mexiscope
Cast: Rosita Quintana (Valeria), Luis Aguilar
(Luciano), Pedro Galdino (Macario), Andrés Soler
(Gudelio Morantes), Alfredo Varela Jr. (Genovevo), Luis
Aragón (Cmdte. Ortega), Miguel Inclán Jr., José Eduardo
Pérez (captain), Roberto Meyer (town official), José
Pardavé (judge), Victorio Blanco (old peón), Dacia
González (guest at wedding), Indio Cacama and Regino
Herrera (Gudelio's men)
Notes: this pseudo-Revolution film is actually a very
lightly disguised ranchera-comedy, with plenty of
romance, songs, and the genre's conspicuous lack of real
villains. The Revolution itself is mentioned only in
passing--and in the title song--and (as García Riera
The Mexican Film Bulletin is published 6 times a year by David
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