Cantinflas and Mexican Cinema

Instead of ancestors I had cinema. The faces and personalities that filled screens in Hollywood’s golden years populated my mind.

I grew up in Santa Ana surrounded by Mexican culture. The ranches and orange groves for which the county was named were originally Spanish land grants. And let me remind everyone, California was Mexico only 160 years ago.

 Cantinflas was part of my early life. Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes was like a home boy.

Filmmaking was born at the turn of the last century. Cinema thrived internationally and many nations had, by the 20’s, created a stong body of work.

Mexico was among them. Director Emilio Fernandez and actors Pedro Armendariz and Emilio Fernandez were the bedrock of mid century Mexican Cinema.

Cantiflas made it pop.

In the 30’s and 40s North American film set the standards and dominanted the industry. When the politics surrounding World War II cut off parts of that market America passionately courted Latin American countries. This allowed for the cross over of Latin stars like Portuguese/Brazilian singer dancer Carmen Miranda, Dolores Del Rio of Durango, Mexico, Lupe Valez, Katy Jurado of Guadalajara.

Katy Jurado was the bomb.

She did a lot of acting in North American film and TV. This still is from “High Noon.”

Why would anybody choose Grace Kelly’s whimpy, judgemental wife over Katy Jurado as the passionate mistress?

Cantinflas was not as beautiful as Jurado but he became a beloved figure. And who has a cooler mustache?

Cantinflas died in 1993.


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