I was lured into spending a dollar for the DVD of this film at the grocery store by my memories of Maria Felix's striking performance in La Escondida, and the tiny stills on the back of guys in devil costumes. Amateur cave explorer Fernando Rey digs into unexplored territory only to find red-headed and well-dressed Juan de Landa sitting gloomily by a campfire. It seems he is Mephistopheles, ostracized for his inept handling of the Faustina case, and most of the movie is his recounting of the tale with occasional returns to this framing sequence for Rey to ask another question. In the story itself, Mephistopheles appears in a small town to purchase an old woman's soul, and to transform her into the magnificent Maria Felix. This Mephisto's task seems to be to foil his client rather than to fulfill her wishes, but she continually outsmarts him, winning a beauty contest and becoming a nightclub performer by her wits and despite his best efforts. She wows her audience by literally reading them the newspaper. There are occasional visits to the head office in Hell, an industrial environment as brightly lit and colored as an old Batman or Star Trek set, with the damned wallowing in their fire pits outside a floor-to-ceiling window. These are Spanish devils, shirtless with goat legs and long tails which they use to swat flies and light cigars - very different from the red-faced Mexican gent in the tuxedo. Those who share with me an eye for spectacular fashion will enjoy repeated scenes of Maria Felix flinging open various wraps and overcoats to reveal her hourglass figure wrapped in one outstanding gown after another. Though I am sure it is far more enjoyable to understand the dialogue, I still got quite a bit of pleasure from this and would recommend it in a subtitled version, if such exists, or to anyone with a good knowledge of the Spanish language.
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