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The Unscrupulous Ones (1962)

Os Cafajestes (original title)
This film captures the criminal behavior of two young Copacabana thugs (the "cafajestes"). The two plan a blackmail coup against a rich old man, using nude pictures of a lady on a deserted ... See full summary »


1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Per Aabel
Norma Bengell ...
Leda (as Norma Benguel)
Hugo Carvana ...
Lucy de Carvalho ...
Germana de Lamare ...
Fort Girl
Marina Ferraz
Glauce Rocha ...
Aline Silva ...
Cadillac Girl
Fátima Somer ...
Cathecism Girl
Jece Valadão ...


This film captures the criminal behavior of two young Copacabana thugs (the "cafajestes"). The two plan a blackmail coup against a rich old man, using nude pictures of a lady on a deserted beach. But things don't always happen as planned. Written by Gonz30

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama





Release Date:

24 March 1962 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Brasilian pojat  »

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Featured in Mulheres de Cinema (1978) See more »

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User Reviews

Two victimized women expose the true character of two exploiting men
2 August 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Os Cafajestes" (1962) aka "The Unscrupulous Ones" is the excellent work of Ruy Guerra, who also co-wrote; and the cinematography of Tony Rabatoni is also critical to the film's high quality. The acting is of a high order, including some dangerous stunt work by Daniel Filho ("Vava"), who rides the hood of a moving car. The long nude sequence of Norma Bengell ("Leda") is a very challenging piece of acting, and she elevated its emotional content with great skill. The lead "cafajeste" named "Jandir" is played by Jece Valadao, a brooding and amoral presence throughout. Vava's cousin "Vilma" is played by Lucy de Carvalho. These are the 4 main characters.

Ruy Guerra has been interviewed about this film, and he explains a lot about it in European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood by Thomas Elsaesser. To begin with, a cafajeste is "somebody who flouts accepted moral values". A cafajestada is a "mean and nasty trick". The film begins with Jandir playing such a nasty trick on a prostitute. The cafajestes are men without jobs who get by in other ways, but also include playboys with money. They take their aggressiveness out on women by humiliating them and exploiting their weaknesses. Jandir's trick establishes his character. He is a poor cafajeste who has known hunger. His aim in the story is to succeed in a blackmail so that he can obtain a convertible car and rise socially. He has recruited the weaker and bourgeois Vava to take compromising pictures of Leda. She's mistress of a rich guy (called "uncle") whom they intend to blackmail.

Nearly all of the action is photographed in natural surroundings: the downtown, the highways, the fort overlooking the harbor, and especially the beach. The photography is beautiful and makes you feel you are right there in the clear atmosphere of sky, sand, clouds, the polished cars, whitewashed fortress walls and old cannons. Guerra's direction quite often takes its time to focus on the faces and movements of his main characters, so that we know and understand their emotions.

Leda and Vilma come from different classes, as do Jandir and Vava. Leda, the mistress, is Jandir's counterpart. Vilma is like Vava in coming from a more sheltered and looked-after background. Although Jandir and Vava manhandle and photograph these women, they overcome this and "unmask" the men. They make the men realize their low weakness. This is the psychological center of the film's conflicts.

Leda is attracted to Jandir and offers herself to him genuinely. Despite being humiliated nude, she gathers her dignity. Her strength and beauty prevent her from being disgraced. He proves to be impotent because of his failure to shake her character.

Guerra says that all the characters are "degraded". His basic postulate is that "fallen man" serves as the background for all moral values of good and evil. He calls this their "primary condition" and says that "only within this condition that good and evil take on any moral significance". I add that this position has been argued at length by the Russian philosopher Nikolas (or Nikolai) Berdyaev.

This interesting and artistic film shows what can be done independently with a low budget.

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