Double Feature: DOS MONJES + SALÓN MÉXICO
Double Feature: DOS MONJES [TWO MONKS] with SALÓN MÉXICO (1949)
DOS MONJES [TWO MONKS]
The beginning of sound cinema in Mexico in the early 1930s saw the birth of a strange new genre that might reasonably be called "Mexican Gothic." DOS MONJES remains one of the most significant and representative early works of this genre. The film tells the story of two monks who are embroiled in a complex psychological struggle for the love of the same woman, and of their eventual unravelling. The influence of German Expressionism is evident in the film's moody, nuanced use of black and white and the photography of celebrated Mexican photographer Agustín Jiménez, which together create a strange, distorted atmosphere. French surrealist and writer André Breton was reportedly taken with the film, which he saw during a visit to Mexico, dubbing it a "bold and unusual experiment." (Note courtesy of Il Cinema Ritrovato.) DIR/SCR Juan Bustillo Oro; SCR/PROD José Manuel Cordero; PROD José San Vicente, Manuel San Vicente. Mexico, 1934, b&w, 85 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED
SALÓN MÉXICO (1949)
Películas de cabareteras (dance hall films) is a specifically Mexican film genre, involving working-class women forced to earn a living as prostitutes, and their relations to the men who abuse them. This was director Emilio Fernández's first entry in the genre that began with SANTA (1932) and LA MUJER DEL PUERTO (1935), but it would not be his last. Mercedes works at a large dance hall, Salón México (made famous by Aaron Copland's suite), where she wins a dance contest with her partner, Paco, who keeps all the money. Desperate because she is secretly putting her kid sister through a private boarding school, she steals the money, leading to tragic results. The melodramatic plot had been around the block, but this is Mexican film noir, and style is everything. Gabriel Figueroa's haunting images and chiaroscuro lighting culminate in an homage to Fritz Lang's DESTINY (1921) with Mercedes' stairway to heaven. As in all noirs, she cannot escape her fate. (Note courtesy of UCLA Film and Television Archive.) DIR/SCR Emilio Fernández; SCR Mauricio Magdaleno; PROD Salvador Elizondo. Mexico, 1949, b&w, 95 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED
AFI Member passes accepted.