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Gran Casino (1947)
"Gran Casino (Tampico)" (original title)

 -  Drama | Musical  -  1947 (USA)
6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 438 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 16 critic

After the mysterious disappearance of an oil well owner, one of his workers, Gerardo (Jorge Negrete) assumes the business management. Soon, the owner's sister (Libertad Lamarque) arrives ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Libertad Lamarque ...
Jorge Negrete ...
Gerardo Ramírez
Meche Barba ...
Camelia (as Mercedes Barba)
Agustín Isunza ...
Heriberto
Julio Villarreal ...
Demetrio García
José Baviera ...
Fabio
Alfonso Bedoya ...
El Rayado
Francisco Jambrina ...
José Enrique Irigoyen
Fernande Albany ...
Nanette (as Fernanda Albany)
Charles Rooner ...
Van Eckerman
Bertha Lehar ...
Raquela Ortiz (as Bertha Lear)
Trío Calaveras ...
Cantantes
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Storyline

After the mysterious disappearance of an oil well owner, one of his workers, Gerardo (Jorge Negrete) assumes the business management. Soon, the owner's sister (Libertad Lamarque) arrives from Argentina, and, believing that Gerardo killed her brother to keep the wells for himself, she starts working as a singer under a false name in the same casino her brother disappeared, in order to find out what exactly happened. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Musical

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Release Date:

1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gran Casino  »

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(RCA High Fidelity)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in Regarding Buñuel (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Adiós pampa mía
By Francisco Canaro (as F. Canaro) and Mariano Mores (as M. Mores)
Performed by Jorge Negrete and El Trío Calaveras
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User Reviews

 
GRAN CASINO (Luis Bunuel, 1947) **1/2
12 October 2007 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Since January of this year – after I attended the Luis Bunuel retrospective at London's National Film Theatre – this had been the only title left for me to watch out of the filmography of my all-time favorite director; thanks to Lionsgate's 2-Disc "Luis Bunuel Collection" (also containing THE YOUNG ONE [1960]), I finally made it now – an effort which took me all of 15 years to accomplish!

The film was a surprisingly pleasant and engaging semi-musical but, clearly, a very minor work in the director's canon; if one weren't aware of the circumstances behind its making (the fact that Bunuel had been kept from directing for 15 years and that his comeback was possible only via a commercial studio product), one would think that the great Surrealist master was playing the ultimate joke on his audience – by delivering a film which is virtually the antithesis of his style (though, in retrospect, the idea of people suddenly breaking into song in a Bunuel movie is pretty surreal in itself)! That said, being the intimate film-maker that he is, he lends considerable attention to the contrasting milieux in which the proceedings take place – the oil-fields and the titular location. Towards the end, the heroine ostensibly capitulates to the powerful foreign organization controlling the territory – only to have the last laugh (with the hero at her side) as the all-important oil-wells are dynamited soon after their departure from town!

The male lead is likable, handsome and can certainly carry a tune; he seems to find the overage leading lady desirable – personally, I didn't share his enthusiasm and, in fact, was more intrigued by the younger and more attractive temptress (who, during the course of the film led two men to their doom). Alfonso Bedoya, the leading Mexican bandit from John Huston's THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948), here plays the casino owner's grinning lieutenant; he gets his just desserts in a striking (and, in the context of the rest of the picture, quite disorientating) scene showing the hero attacking Bedoya, who's hiding behind a curtain – instead of cutting between the two men, Bunuel keeps the camera on one side of the curtain but then superimposes for a split-second on this same action the image of shattered glass, as if to imply the devastating effect of the blows Bedoya is receiving! Another bravura sequence is the one involving the old female kleptomaniac, a hanger-on at the casino; while in the company of the hero, we see the distorted reflection of her facial features in a shiny champagne bucket he's casually holding (as if to remind us of her crooked nature). The director's hand is also felt in his completely unsentimental handling of a would-be tender moment between the budding lovers: while the heroine remarks about the strong odor particular to an oil-field, the hero nonchalantly picks away at a pool of mud with a stick!

Bunuel also manages to incorporate a nod to Hitchcock in this film – the 'safety in numbers' routine often used by the Master Of Suspense: here, feeling threatened by the presence of the rival's thugs at the casino, the hero leaps onto the stage and proceeds to lead the audience in a rousing musical ensemble! Also worth mentioning here is the recurringly surreal presence of the Trio Calaveras, amiable singing peasants who turn up simply to back up the hero's vocals – wherever he happens to be at the time (in jail, at the oil-field, at the casino) and literally out of nowhere; at one point, even he seems surprised by their sudden appearance and acknowledges them with a bemused nod! Two more minor but amusing presences are punters from the Casino: a perennially drunken peon and a bald-headed walrus-like old man with animated eyebrows!

I hadn't listened to an Audio Commentary in a long time but couldn't pass checking this one out – since such lengthy discussions of Bunuel's work are a rare commodity. Philip Kemp's track didn't disappoint (incidentally, the British film critic had introduced screenings of Kon Ichikawa's AN ACTOR'S REVENGE (1963) and THE WANDERERS [1973] in a 2002 retrospective of that director's work, also at London's National Film Theater, which my brother and I were lucky to attend), as he went into some detail about this film's production history. Among the things I didn't know, he mentioned that there was an on-set rivalry between its two singing stars – Libertad Lamarque and Jorge Negrete – so much so that they were accorded an equal number of songs but wouldn't agree to appear in a duet (which is certainly unusual for a musical)! Besides, Lamarque was blacklisted sometime before this film's release after a disparaging remark she made about a then-colleague of hers – Evita Peron!! Kemp also mentions that Bunuel was contemplating a remake of Robert Bresson's marvelous debut film, LES ANGES DU PECHE' (1943), before he eventually embarked on this decidedly more modest enterprise (still, the cast of the film is filled with distinguished actors of the time and place – several of whom would re-appear in subsequent Bunuel titles).

Finally, one word about the collection itself: while this 2-disc 2-film set is decidedly less impressive than Lionsgate's previous tribute to another cinema giant – Jean Renoir (comprising a good 7 films spread over 3 discs!), one is still grateful for their commitment in releasing two of his more obscure efforts. That said, it was incredibly sloppy of them to have mislabeled the DVDs – so that, in order to watch GRAN CASINO, I had to insert the disc of THE YOUNG ONE instead!


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