A friend told me about this María Félix movie and how gorgeous she looks in it so I decided to watch it, since her beauty was legendary (and she was the Great Diva of the Mexican cinema, adored by all Latin America, not to mention her own Mexican compatriots, that honored her with a most impressive, massive funeral at her death, and a nation wide duel, a funeral as impressive as Edith Piaf's in France or Evita's in Argentina) a true star from the word go. Well..., she was a beauty of incredible perfection, maybe too beautiful! (As an actress lets say she wasn't Sarah Bernhardt, but she passed mustard, she was OK).
Her problem as an actress I think was to be too self conscious about her beauty and her living legend at the time, and that, plus her hieratic posture --raised eyebrows and drop dead glances on everybody as the DIVA she was in real life and made her a favorite of the gay world-- placed her almost always as the nasty, larger than life (5.9 foot tall) man eater, diamond hoarder vixen; for example in this movie, she says to her nice but poor beau:"I don't like being poor, being poor is horrible" and to her disgusting, despised (millionaire) husband, when he threatens her with divorce and leaving her penniless and back in the gutter where he found her: "That's what you think" and grabbing a very long pair of scissors takes care of that problem.
I cannot refrain from adding a sublime line from another of her movies, in that scene her (millionaire) husband enters completely altered: "María, María... we are ruined!!", "Ruined?? ruined yourself... (To her maid): Ramona, prepare the luggage!!" Add to those lines a rich, very deep, throaty voice and you get the picture.
For those that don't know her, to give you an idea of her imposing figure, she could have been the PERFECT Rebecca in that Hitchcock movie in which he refused to show Rebecca on the screen "because she was so beautiful that no actress would have represented her without disillusioning somebody in the audience", so Rebecca never appears, OK, María Félix would have been accepted by the whole audience as Rebecca.
I didn't have any high expectations about this movie and yet was pleasantly surprised at the smoothness of the direction and the perfect editing of the scenes. The photography is admirable --black and white-- the story by Jean Cocteau is quite interesting and I dare say it's even absorbing, thanks also to all actors involved, perfectly cast for their roles.
Since La Doña (as she was known in Mexico) had the silhouette of a mannequin, it was a dress designer's dream come true and although the wardrobe she displays is fabulous, I think it goes totally overboard in that hot Arabic town, where she looks like an alien among the Arab population, an exotic peacock (in evening gowns at 10 AM under that hot sun!!) displaying her war ware.
María Félix eyes were her most prominent feature, the saying goes that an admirer told her "Madam, your eyes are larger than your feet"...I wonder how she took that "compliment"?
A nice movie, watchable and entertaining, but mainly to gaze at the sublime beauty of La Doña, María Félix.
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