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Susana (1951)

 |  Drama  |  1953 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,232 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 24 critic

An unstable young woman escapes from a reformatory for very, very wayward girls and deceptively finds shelter in the kind home of a frighteningly nice and decent family. Little by little, ... See full summary »

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Title: Susana (1951)

Susana (1951) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Cast

Cast overview:
Fernando Soler ...
Don Guadalupe
Rosita Quintana ...
Susana
Víctor Manuel Mendoza ...
Jesús
María Gentil Arcos ...
Felisa
Luis López Somoza ...
Alberto
Matilde Palou ...
Doña Carmen
Rafael Icardo ...
Don Severiano, veterinary
Enrique del Castillo ...
Official reformatory
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Storyline

An unstable young woman escapes from a reformatory for very, very wayward girls and deceptively finds shelter in the kind home of a frighteningly nice and decent family. Little by little, she causes unrest and discord among the members of the household, until they are virtually fighting with each other. Written by Mark Toscano <fiddybop@uclink4.berkeley.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Susana  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA High Fidelity)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Connections

Remake of The Squall (1929) See more »

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User Reviews

 
works OK as a melodrama, sometimes better than OK, but it's still a Bunuel film
12 March 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Even as a "minor" work, I was a little surprised to find out that Luis Bunuel didn't care very much for the experience or final product of Susana (aka Devil in the Flesh). It is, I'll admit, not something I would rush out to tell my fellow Bunuel friends to see; part of that is practical, since it's only available on a VHS from the mid-80s and isn't in great condition even if found, but the other part is that it takes a real fan to appreciate it as a Bunuel film. Like Robinson Crusoe to an extent, though I think here more-so, it relies a bit for the audience member to understand what it is that attracted the great surrealist to the project. Temptation, pure and simple: this is at its best a story that allowed for the filmmaker to bask in a long-favored pastime, which was ticking off the uptight religious fanatics and purists who couldn't stand to see any kind of sensuality on the screen.

Sure, it definitely pales in comparison to the desire and temptation on parade and blasting at 11 in Un Chien Andalou or Viridiana. That's because Bunuel is keeping it on the down-low, which has its advantages and sort of disadvantages. On its own Susana is simply a melodrama, a story of this girl Susana (beautiful and talented if two-note Rosita Quintana) who escapes in one of those fun Bunuelian twists from a mental asylum to wind up on a rainy night in the care of a pretty religious farmhouse. She fits in with the chores and such, but also does her best to tempt the prudish on the farm (when she's asked to cover up she does, until no one's looking relatively), but winds up in a real pickle when tempting the wrong man.

And, on its own terms, it's a pretty decent melodrama. Some good performances, a few very good scenes of dialog and tension, but also on the scale of a very good soap opera all the same. I can see where Bunuel might have had some tension during the making; it feels and is a studio production, and as such he had to stay well within the limitations of the subject matter and low-budget. But it is worth seeing because it is still a Bunuel picture, with moments like that scene at night where the two men look on, tongues practically dangling out of their mouths, watching as Susana simply brushes her hair in silhouette, or a few moments where the twisted humor ratchets up a notch or too (it's rare, but worth it, if only in the unintended or just dated "scandalous" nature of the content). It's safe stuff coming from the director of the Phantom of Liberty, but it's not at all a bad movie either.


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