A dancer who works in the seedy Salón Panamá falls in love with a smuggler who is followed by a corrupt policeman, when on December 20, 1989, the US army invades Panamá and thousands of innocent people are killed. Based on true facts.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dolores Pedro ...
The Dancer
The Thief
Raúl Medina ...
The Witness
Litico Rodriguez ...
The Ventriloquist
Tito Vasconcelos ...
The Transvestite
Eduardo López Rojas ...
The Policeman
Kandido Uranga
Silvestre Mendez ...
The Rumba Player
The Gay Crooners ...
The Cabaret Entertainers (as Los Explosivos Crooners)
Olga de la Caridad Díaz
Gerardo Martínez ...
(as Gerardo Martínez 'Pichicúas')
Gabriel Pingarrón
Ana Silvia Valencia
Luis Mariano Napoles
Jorge Becerril


During the American invasion of Panama to oust General Noriega, a mambo dancer is raped by American soldiers. Based on a true incident. There is effectively no dialog in this film: Everything is communicated through dance or pantomime. Written by Bill Kirkpatrick <mkirk@biomathp.unizh.ch>

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Release Date:

18 October 1995 (France)  »

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User Reviews

Bombs, Killings and Mambos

I saw "Dollar Mambo" again last night, during a cultural act in the open air, by the coast of Panama Bay, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the American invasion of Panamá on December 20, 1989, in which thousands of innocent persons were killed. The first time I saw the movie I rejected it, for I expected a naturalist treatise about the invasion, and was confronted by a figurative motion picture, in which Mexican artist Paul Leduc gave his personal impression of the events, Panamá and its people. Last night I re-discovered "Dollar Mambo", and found it a very good motion picture, so I write this to retract myself. After "Frida, naturaleza viva", director Leduc followed his own aesthetic path of fluid camera movements, almost no dialogues and post-modern, fragmented story lines. First he made "¿Cómo ves?", a controversial docudrama about marginal life in México City, in which music played a central role, so it did not come as a surprise when he decided to make a musical trilogy. First he adapted Alejo Carpentier's short novel "Concierto barroco" into "Barroco" (1989), he followed it with a new remake of the novel by Federico Gamboa "Santa", this time called "Latino Bar" (1991), and finally he ended the trilogy with this musical "a la Leduc", based on a real event during the American invasion and posterior occupation of Panamá for months. Leduc adapted news he read in the papers, about a woman who was killed in a Panamanian bar by American soldiers who were acquited after detention for a while, as if nothing (the same response given by American authorities to the claims of the victims' relatives). He wrote the screenplay with the collaboration of many artists, including Panamanain poet Pedro Rivera, and came out with this strong metaphor of oppression, genocide, transculturation and death, to the sound of Afro-Caribbean rhythms, mambos by Dámaso Pérez Prado and a touch of rock and roll: the story follows the romance of a black dancer (Dolores Pedro), and her lover (Roberto Sosa), when suddenly bombs and bodies start to fall, and she is forced to degrade herself having sex with several American soldiers, in front of her beaten boyfriend. A very simple story turned into a tense, dramatic film, definitely not for all tastes, it is true, because of its many musical metaphors and symbols, in the midst of angry visual statements against American imperialism. But a quiet observation of the film and probably a conversation after its projection would reveal many missing interpretations and readings that we may lose on the first sight (as it happened to me). After "Dollar Mambo", Leduc retired from feature films for a while, and made several digital animation shorts on music appreciation.

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