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||Classic Mexican Movie Collection
||These reviews and info are from the
IMDb Web Site
These are the pre 1980, made in Mexico (Not Hollywood),
with a documentary flavor, movies that I've collected.
No Pedro Infante, Cantinflas or other popular Mexican symbols, although
I have a few of those.
Internet Internet Movie Database - IMDb <-
La Rosa Blanca (1961)
Plot Summary: An illiterate Indian
(Ignacio Lopez Tarso) lives an idyllic existence as a landowner on
Mexico's Gulf Coast until the greed of a US oil company gets in the way.
He is murdered and the lives of all those around him are irrevocably
destroyed as the company takes over the land by crooked means. Based on
the novel by B.Traven.
User Comments: Powerful Film about Social Consequences
Many countries face the challenges of oil reserves;
they benefit from the money they gain, but pay a severe social cost for
having oil. Mexico is not an exception to this rule, and the struggle of
one family's fight against an oil company is masterfully depicted in La
The acting, while a bit stylized, is quite good. (The film employed the
services of some of Mexico's best actors of the time). Additionally,
Roberto Gavaldon employs the use of two languages in the dialogue to
create the disconnect necessary to understand the difficulties faced by
Jacinto Yañez and his family.
La Rosa Blanca, directed by Roberto Gavaldon, is an exquisite work
featuring cinematography by the illustrious Gabriel Figueroa. Originally
completed in 1961, it was canned for eleven years because of its highly
political nature. Mexico was suffering from the effects of a boom and
bust oil economy during the early 1960s, therefore making its subject
matter sensitive. It has often been mischaracterized as being
anti-American: it is not. The film is, however, against the exploitative
nature of oil corporations, a poignant fact that has significant value
My distaste for the final ten minutes of this film, where the film
becomes a propaganda piece for the Mexican government, is the only
reason this film does not get a ten.
Plot Summary: Quino is a Mexican
diver that discovers a pearl at the bottom of the sea. He and his wife
Juana, and their son have just taken possession of a pearl that is worth
thousands. Everyday people try to get in on the cash, even Pearl Dealers
try to rip them off. When Quino is attacked one day, he kills his
attackers in self defence. His brother suggests their only hope is to
leave the village. But on their journey to give their son an education
they never had, someone may just do anything to prevent it.
User Comments: A visual feast!!!
I am a Brit happily married to a Mexicana for many
years and lived in Mexico for a number of years.
La Perla is a photographic masterpiece of significant beauty and well
worth seeing for the magnificence of the incredible use of natural light
to highlight the scenery.
In addition to the two main stars the cast contains a number of actors
whose work I have enjoyed immensely and the scenes depicting the singing
and dancing at the local fiesta bring back to me countless memories of
pleasure during my life in that beautiful country.
This film really does reflect the Golden Years of the Mexican Fim
Plot Summary: Poor, hungry peasant
Macario longs for just one good meal on the Day of the Dead. After his
wife cooks a turkey for him, he meets three apparitions, the Devil, God,
and Death. Each asks him to share his turkey, but he refuses all except
Death. In return, Death gives him a bottle of water which will heal any
illness. Soon, Macario is more wealthy than the village doctor, which
draws the attention of the feared Inquisition
User Comments: Memorable, funny, wise and very
Beautifully realized fable that
quickly made history as the first Mexican film to be
nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It is
based on a story by B. Traven, the man behind the
source material for the classic film Treasure of a
Sierra Madre (1948). Like most fables, symbolism is
plentiful, and the social message is unmistakably
strong. The film opts for a combination of
naturalism and surrealism, and the result is a
visually dense, and dramatically interesting movie.
The film's structure is reminiscent of both Ingmar
Bergman's The Seventh Seal (1957), and William
Dieterle's The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), so
if you like any of those films, you will probably
enjoy this movie. Dazzling camera work by the great
Grabiel Figueroa is key to the film's success, but
one cannot overlook Roberto Gavaldón's excellent
direction, and a truly superb script by Emilio
Carballido and Galvadon. Ignacio Lopez Tarso is
perfectly cast as the peasant that makes a deal with
"Mr. Death", and I loved the work of actress Pina
Pillecer, who is a clone of actress Marisa Pavan.
AKA- Mexican Bus Ride
Summary: A young man and woman's honeymoon is cut short when the man
learns that his mother has fallen ill back at home. The newlywed couple
rush there to discover the other sons neglecting their mom in order to
plot their squandering of the inheritance. The newlywed son takes quite
an adventurous bus-ride to a distant city to get his mother's will
notarized to the contrary, and is faced with multiple temptations along
User Comments: left me thinking about the righteous
Subida al cielo is a messy little story probably about the
distractions and small miracles happening on everybody's way to heaven.
It is short and seems simple, but there are sometimes strange things
happening: has anybody the strength to go straight? If one does really
go straight, one probably do not even have dreams. Dreams, wishful
thinking and miracles like the improbable solution (by a little girl)
for getting the bus out of the river with an ox instead of a tractor and
the small miracle of the two vehicles that for no apparent reason
suddenly CAN pass each other on the narrow path after a short meeting.
Furthermore, Buñuel incorporates a few modest but funny dream sequences
to emphasize that people (secretly) can think of other things, while
they are on their certain way to heaven (the righteous path?). The
English title 'Mexican Bus Ride' applies very well I guess: the whole is
kind of low profile (probably also low budget :)
The acting is ok, but I never really got into the story, because the
editing isn't good and there is no convincing mood to get into, although
Buñuel uses some music in this movie. Miniature cars and sets make it
fun to watch, but also do not convince. The movie feels more like an
exercise than as a message from the heart, but I would like to see it
again some time.
- Quality is very bad on my copy
User Comments: An artistic marvel from Mexico
I've been waiting for a long time for this movie to be listed here.
Caught it around 11 p.m. a LONG time ago on channel 9, KHJ-TV in Los
Angeles, before it became KCAL(talk about dating yourself). I only saw
it the one time, but, darnit, this should be seen by anyone who
considers going into directing. The story of a young boy growing up in a
contemporary Mexican village, who has an almost disabling sensitivity to
any loud noise, who desperately seeks some outlet--any outlet--for his
budding musical talent and finds it with help from an old man who lives
on the outskirts of town and plays a haunting violin...well, they don't
make them like that here, nowadays. The film's beguiling story line, the
sedate, almost ethereal pace, together with an almost complete lack of
spoken dialogue is a standing challenge for any budding filmmaker up
here in El Norte to match what he did. If you see it in you local
listings, PLEASE set your VCR. You'll be glad you did.
Que Viva Mexico! -
Da zdravstvuyet Meksika! (1979)
Plot Outline: Eisenstein shows us Mexico in this
movie, its history and its culture. He believes, that Mexico can become
a modern state.
User Comments: Even if it would have been completed, I
would bet that it would be considered one of Eisenstein's lesser works
|Que Viva Mexico is an interesting (reconstruction of
a) film by Sergei Eisenstein, the director of so many
masterpieces. In fact, of all that I have seen, this is
the only non-masterpiece of the bunch. Even the
reconstruction of Beshin Meadow I like more. Que Viva
Mexico is a semi-documentary. Most of it is
uninteresting and, unlike Eisenstein's other films and
Tisse's other cinematography, poorly composed. The only
parts of real interest come near the end, with the
rebellion, something that Eisenstein was used to
creating on screen. There is a great gunfight with a
woman participating, a precursor to Alexander Nevsky's
Vasilisa, and there is a great scene where some rebels
are buried up to the shoulders underground and then
trampled by horses (by far the best scene in the film).
The Day of the Dead celebration is also very
interesting. There is also a bullfight that will
demonstrate just how cruel bullfighting is.
I do have to complain about the reconstruction that I
watched. This was supposed to be a silent film, I
believe. The narration I did not mind, for Eisenstein
would have had to find a way to communicate what the
narrator did anyway. And the music is good, often great.
But I object to the insertion of diagetic sound effects,
like guns shooting and horses galloping. This is
ridiculous. Obviously the only people who are ever going
to see this film are Eisenstein enthusiasts, so to try
to sell it to the public as a sound movie is ridiculous.
El Palacio Negro ( Lecumberri ) (1976) (director y
guionista - largometraje documental)
I find very little on the web about this Arturo Ripstein film.
It is a rather day-to-day documentation of the "Palacio Negro", Mexico
City's central prison. Showing new prisoners as they come in ...
and all the day to day stuff they do while there. It may sound
dismal and/or boring ... but remember this is not Bollywood and it is a
Plot Summary: Mexican and Latin-American classic. Four
independent stories based on writer Francisco Rojas Gonzáles's work,
depicting the reality of Mexican indian people: Las Vacas, Nuestra
Señora, El Tuerto and La Potranca. In El Tuerto, crosseyed boy is made
fun of by his mates. His religious mother asks God to make the boy's
eyes equal. The outcome is tragic.
User Comments: Clash between 2 Cultures
|Long before the Europeans set foot
on America, several Indian cultures flourished,
specially in the center of Mexico and down to South
America. These groups had astounding knowledges that
up till today it is still a mystery as to how they
acquired them. This very interesting and very well
produced film that used no professional actors, is a
very good portrait of what happens when we try to
view things prejudiced by our own point of view.
This is typically a clash of 2 cultures, the
European modernity trying to judge what The "Chamula"
Indians in the Southeast part of Mexico had been
doing for centuries. It is a clash between pagan and
religious beliefs, between desire and pride, between
poverty and riches, between faith and reality,
between tradition and modernity. It is very
interesting to follow the plot of the 4 different
stories being narrated. This is a movie that should
not be missed by Latin Americans or any one else
that wants to understand how the natives lived on
this part of the world long before we were
"discovered" by the Europeans.
La Vida no Vale Nada
Plot Outline: Based on the
novel "Mother" by Maxim Gorky. Pablo joins the revolutionaries in his
pursuit of social justice. His imprisonment and suffering for the just
cause shakes his loving mother, who also joins the revolutionaries.
|Completed only a few years before
the end of his short life, "La Vida No Vale Nada"
earned Pedro Infante a Silver Ariel for Mexico's
best male performance of 1955. Infante remains the
primary reason to see this episodic, somewhat
disjointed film. The Mexican star plays Pablo, an
illiterate, alcoholic drifter, who has bouts with
the bottle and interludes with several women of
varying character: a loving widow, a generous
professional, his saintly mother, and his father's
lusty mistress. While attractive, Infante does not
have stereotypical movie-star looks and is
convincing as a common man who struggles with
existence. Women play a significant role in Pablo's
life and offer him redemption, love, and sex, for
which he seems to offer little in return. Although
he reunites with his mother, he bonds most closely
with his beachcomber father, whose destiny he seems
fated to follow.
Fortunately, the movie offers opportunities for
Infante to sing, and his voice, rich and velvety in
tone, provides another reason to see the film. In
two scenes, however, the actor sings while he is
supposedly intoxicated. Although enjoyable, these
sequences are somewhat incredible because his
enunciation and notes are perfect despite his
inebriation. That a good-looking man with such a
rich voice would have to scratch out a living with
odd jobs also stretches the plot's believability.
Although others in the cast perform well, the film
is Infante's show, and his charm supports its weaker
sections. Rogelio Gonzalez's direction is competent,
although the transitions from episode to episode at
times leave the viewer wondering if scenes were
edited out. The IMDb plot outline for this film
bears no relation to "La Vida No Vale Nada" and must
refer to another film with the same title. Despite
its flaws, this often-entertaining film is a
showcase for the talents of one of Mexico's greatest
stars. Although the movie is not worthy of his
talents, "La Vida No Vale Nada" provides a showcase
for the dramatic and vocal skills of the great Pedro
||El Lugar Sin
Family honor, greed, machismo, homophobia, and the
dreams of whores collide in a Mexican town. Rich,
elderly Don Alejo is poised to sell the town for a
profit, needing only to buy a whorehouse to own all
the buildings and close the deal. It's owned by a
man and his daughter: Manuelita is gay, aging,
afraid; he cross-dresses and entertains as a
flamenco dancer; he wants to sell and leave. His
daughter wants to stay. The return of Pancho
complicates things: he's a hothead Alejo tries to
control and he scared Manuelita the year before.
Things come to a head as Pancho breaks Alejo's hold
on him, then flirts and dances with Manuelita and
finds himself at risk of being called a "maricón."
Ripstein likes to do is put his
characters in small isolated
places, where the public feels
trapped. In this case, the
claustrophobic environment is
not only the town or the house
where the plot evolves, it´s
Mexican closed minds. Drama full
of unforgettable moments. GOTTA