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Besame, Aventurera!
andrabem21 May 2007
"Aventurera" is a very good melodrama - meaning a drama spiced with musical numbers. But the drama turned, with the passing of time, into comedy. Well, anyway by seeing the picture I had the feeling that the actors were not really taking their part so seriously; what I mean is that it felt like they were having fun - the melodrama with its conventions, its stock characters and innumerable twists, had no surprises in store for them.

"Aventurera" has so many and such fantastic twists, right from the beginning, that is absolutely hilarious. The plot, as such, borders on the incredible, the coincidences abound - one is almost reminded of Buñuel. The objective of the film is naturally to entertain and for doing it, everything is allowed. The only thing demanded of the public was a complete suspension of disbelief and they were only too happy to comply.

The stereotyped roles presented by "Aventurera" demanded a stylized interpretation, so the film is a melodrama with a light touch - it tells a tragic story sprinkled with musical numbers. It entertains and thrills; the acting is not hysterical, on the contrary one could say that it's almost good-humored. Is this a contradiction? No, it isn't. The film woks well - it just tells a sad story with a smile on the eyes. And here enters the heroine.

Niñon Sevilla is wonderful - I'm not speaking of her acting qualities, because good acting was not demanded for her character and would only spoil the film. Niñon Sevilla is beautiful and full of charisma and charm. Her presence fills the screen. She's a naive, naughty and sensual woman - she really shines! One can say that the film is carried by her. But it would be unjust not to mention other actors such as Tito Junco (El Guapo), Andrea Palma (Rosaura) and Miguel Inclan (Ringo). One can detect a feeling of camaraderie among the actors throughout the film.

There's a musical number where Niñon Sevilla, dressed as Carmen Miranda, sings "Chiquita Bacana" in Portuguese! "Aventurera" is a really good film - it's a melodrama like no other. You'll laugh your belly out and Niñon Sevilla will charm your weary eyes.
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Let "La Rumbera" cast-a-net around you!
melvelvit-129 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Cine Mexicano can be likened to Hollywood reflected in a fun-house mirror but it's also an exotic world with a unique style all it's own and the "cabaretera" is without doubt the most outrageous film-cycle of "La Epoca de Oro". These pulp-fiction film-noir musical extravaganzas are considered camp today and this one, starring the incredible Ninon Sevilla, is a classic example. The genre abandoned Mexican cinema's often potent blend of primitive superstition and baroque religious symbolism in favor of mixing lurid over-the-top situations with outré musical production numbers. AVENTURERA throws in everything but the kitchen sink and it could never have been made in Hollywood, that's for sure. Although it differs in it's particulars, this film bears some resemblance to Joan Crawford's FLAMINGO ROAD of the previous year. It also works the other way around. The Joan's over-heated Deep South potboiler would have made a fantastic cabaretera if they'd expanded Crawford's carnival cooch-dance and later had her become the hottest musical entertainer in Lute Mae's whorehouse.

AVENTURERA careens from one melodramatic situation to the next from the outset and never lets up. There's adultery, suicide, rape, drugs, blackmail, murder (real and attempted), cat-fights, betrayal, lust and vengeance amid a fiery rumba or two. When schoolgirl Elena's adulterous mom runs off and her dad kills himself, she runs away to a sleazy border town where she's taken advantage of by an underworld pimp/gangster. She's drugged, raped and sold to Rosaura, an icy queen bee madame with a mute "familiar" who has a very persuasive way a knife. Rosaura could scare the pants off Sydney Greenstreet any day. How Elena rises to become the top attraction of the cathouse/cabaret is only one of the many jaw-dropping plot developments. She eventually leaves the sporting life behind and moves up in the world. She's about to marry into millions when she meets her prospective mother-in-law ...Roseaura (don't ask)! There's a few more surprises as Elena, bitter but ambitious, sets out for revenge, but little does she know there's a man from her past looking to even the score. J. Hoberman of "The Village Voice" wrote that The British Institute's anthology, Mexican Cinema, calls the cabaretera "profoundly subversive works that even garnered the attention of the French press." What AVENTURERA subverts is conventional Hollywood formula and deep-dish political interpretation. It's the world, not the ruling class, that's decadent and corrupt and, unlike Joan Crawford's FLAMINGO ROAD, in the end all you have is yourself.

Ninon Sevilla, like Maria Montez, takes her role very seriously and the Cuban dynamo throws herself into the role of Elena with delirious abandon. Just try to look away from her musical numbers as Americans old enough to remember will re-live the old "Chicquita Banana" TV commercials. Alternating between pert-and-sassy and divinely trashy, Ninon gyrates on bizarrely cluttered sets with fanny-twitching verve. She has a "special relationship" with her tambourine and the sensuous way she caresses herself (like Jean Harlow did before the still camera) will have the imaginative preparing for melt down. Over-ripe dialog abounds (at one point Elena exclaims "My life has only been the road to perversion!") and there's an unforgettable title tune ("And he who awaits the sweet honey of your kiss/Must pay the price in diamonds for your sin")! Repeated viewings are always a treat, especially when the mind and eyes wander over the sets, cars, fashions and even the cast-extras. I loved every over-wrought minute of it!

From an interview with Ninon ("La Rumbera") Sevilla in "The Village Voice" Aug. 27, 1996: "Speaking Spanish in a thick Cuban accent punctuated by loud laughter, Sevilla says that she keeps on working (in small parts in soap operas) because she loves to be loved. 'I have so many fans, of all ages, that adore me. I am amongst the most famous artists, you know? They still call me the living diva.' Sevilla still possesses the long curly blonde hair ('I'm a real blonde, you know.') and a huge wardrobe of fur coats from the golden years of her movie-making past. She lives in a Mexico City apartment filled with silver crafts and memorabilia. When asked to attend a public homage, Sevilla always dresses the part. Born in old Havana, the "Queen of the Tropics" came to Mexico in 1946. With (director) Alberto Gout, she completed a brilliant cycle of films that include AVENTURERA and SENSUALIDAD. 'I was his muse', Sevilla says. Sevilla no longer dances the rumba on-stage, but she assures me that she continues to do so in private life. 'Whatever tune is playing, I'll dance to it, caballero!" Viva AVENTURERA!
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She shakes her maracas
F Gwynplaine MacIntyre31 December 2002
I'm intrigued by the distinctive film genres which evolve among the world's cultures. Germany developed the 'mountain film' genre, in which a male hero (or sometimes two male rivals) will achieve greater self-knowledge high up in the mountains, in the presence of a beautiful Aryan woman who embodies the earth-spirit. Mexico developed the 'wrestling mummy' movie genre, about which the less said the better. But Mexico is also the home of the 'cabaretera' genre of movie musical, in which a beautiful young woman is caught between a soap-opera plot line and elaborate floor numbers set in a nightclub. The 1950 film 'Aventurera' ('adventuress') is the best of the cabaretera films, and it's delightful ... it's hokey and implausible, but in a very enjoyable way.

MAJOR SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. Lovely young Cuban actress/dancer Ninón Sevilla stars as Elena, a virginal (but gorgeous blonde) Mejicana who is utterly devoted to her father. When Papa learns that his wife (Elena's mother) is unfaithful, he shoots himself. Elena abandons her villainous mother, and goes off to Mexico City to seek her fortune.

She meets a handsome young man named Lucio who offers to protect her, and who immediately takes her to meet a domineering woman named Rosaura who offers Elena a cup of tea ... which turns out to be drugged. Lucio and Rosaura are 'white slavers' who plan to force Elena to use her body for their profit ... but it's not what you'd expect. Instead of prostitution, they force her to perform as the star of a cabaret act! Elena's cabaret numbers are campy, but I was relieved that they never quite sink to the Carmen Miranda level. (I despise Carmen Miranda.) The musical numbers are impressively staged, on a large budget, and are enjoyable in their own right... all with a Latin beat. The title song, a gentle ballad sung by a male soloist accompanied by Spanish guitar, is wistful and haunting.

Eventually Elena escapes from the nightclub. She meets a handsome and wealthy young man who wants to marry her, but first he takes her home to meet his extremely respectable dowager mother ... who turns out to be Rosaura the madame! There is some witty dialogue here. Rosaura (in her second guise) offers a cup of tea to Elena, who replies: 'I had some once. I didn't like it.'

Although the plot line is outrageous, it's also extremely predictable ... because (except for her dead dad) every major character whom Elena meets in the first half of the movie turns up 'unexpectedly' in the second half of the film, so eventually these 'unexpected' appearances become very expected indeed. At one point late in the film, as Elena walked back to her hotel room, I found myself thinking: 'Lucio hasn't come back yet: it's just about time for him to escape from prison and come looking for Elena.' Just as I thought this, Elena walked into her room and switched on the light. Guess who's sitting there.

'Aventurera' has some very strong 'noir' elements. Except for Elena and her father, every major character in this movie is unsympathetic. Based on the worldview depicted here, almost all women are treacherous ... and almost all men are criminals and perverts who exploit women. Interestingly, the sleaziest character in this movie is also one of the very few sympathetic characters. This is a filthy little toad-like derelict named El Rana, who has a talent for throwing knives. He attaches himself to Elena and follows her about pathetically. His appearance and behaviour suggest a stereotypical pervert, but his interest in Elena really seems to arise from dog-like affection rather than lust. At the end of the film, El Rana murders Lucio with a well-placed 'cuchillo', then he watches approvingly from the shadows as Elena goes off to seek a better life for herself. It's clear that this strange little man's interest in Elena is unselfish, and that he realises he's unworthy of her.

I'll rate 'Aventurera' 8 out of 10. Its depiction of life in Mexico is wildly unrealistic, yet it still provides an interesting view of Mexican culture ... because this is the sort of story that many Mexican filmgoers want to see.
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Part Noir, Part Musical, All Marvelous Melodrama!
JohnHowardReid16 May 2009
Although they are often linked abroad, music and noir don't usually go together in Hollywood movies. Two exceptions are Anthony Mann's 1944 Minstrel Man and Gregory Ratoff's 1939 Rose of Washington Square in which Tyrone Power plays an even sleazier and less likable male lead than Tito Junco in Alberto Gout's celebrated Mexican noir melodrama, Aventurera (1950). At least Junco manages to stay on his feet, whereas Power not only runs out on and sells out the singing heroine (Alice Faye), but is deservedly beaten up by the comedian, as well as jumping bail and betraying his friends. He's not only a sneaky, repulsive, self-serving little rat like Junco, but he's cowardly as hell as well, which puts him one up on the Mexican "pretty boy". Like Rose, Aventurera is superbly photographed (by Alex Phillips) and also boasts a splendid gallery of supporting figures, led by Andrea Palmer's Joan Crawford-like madame and Miguel Inclan's remarkable Rengo who starts off as the most despicable criminal in the movie, yet becomes at the film's end by far the most sympathetic – and without changing his character! He's still just as hideously loathsome, but now we like him! A remarkable acting job by Miguel Inclan – and all in dumb show. He doesn't speak a word. And as for the lavish staging of the musical numbers, Aventurera easily gets the nod. Albert Ketelbey's "In a Persian Market" receives a truly rousing treatment not only from the orchestra and dancer-choreographer-heroine Ninon Sevilla, but from veteran film editor, Alfredo Rosas Priego (no less than 240 movies, would you believe?). As for Senorita Sevilla, she is nothing short of marvelous. (The film is available on two good DVDs, but the unsubtitled release has far better sound).
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A musical gem
randy_abroad20 October 2005
I hope no one adds to that excellent plot summary, because the less you know about the story going into it, the better this movie is. I only wanted to add that one of the delights of "Aventurera" is that it features several of the best singers and musicians of Mexico in that era, beginning with the title song by Agustín Lara.

I didn't rate the movie because I think it's in a class of its own. I know there are other related films in the noir+musical vein, but in terms of talent and plot twists, there is nothing quite like "Aventurera."

And ¡Brava! for Ninón Sevilla. I just learned from this site (10 Oct 05) that she is still alive, and still working.
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Magnificent Cabaret Goddess
NYLux12 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Nothing could possibly prepare you for this movie, which is actually several movies interwoven in one. The only thing you need concentrate on is the incandescent presence of Ninon Sevilla in the title role as Elena Tejero, first an obedient middle class daughter wearing horrid plaid dresses and retarded hairdos that suddenly falls into hard times and her work/career runs the gamut quickly from secretary/waitress to cabaret dancer/prostitute. This is a film you will never forget if only because the intense gesturing and posturing (there is no acting here) of Ninon Sevilla is too delicious for words, it needs to be seen, and several times, to be appreciated. I will summarize by stating that her first cabaret appearance is directly related to the "ritual oriental dance" that was a sleazy feature of adventure/film noir and even horror movies since the days of Pola Negri in "The Eyes of the Mummy", which I believe is the first one. The Oriental dance here is set in never-never Arabia, with polyester harem pants, for the girls, false beards for the lascivious men in the marketplace that tug at Ninon's curvaceous forms. Her outfit is not to be missed: A square box hat-turban combination, a necklace of many false karats and veils a plenty. Her orientalized movements are hilarious and jerky, but her sensuality and raw animal charisma comes through to save the day, and I am sure the appreciative male audience back then rewarded this performance with far more erections than laughter. But this is nothing compared to her "Tropical" number which will follow later. We first see Ninon in her dressing room nonchalantly supporting a headdress that consists of two full pineapples with branches and leaves on her head. Although she looks like a giant insect that has sprouted antenna, she acts and moves so convincingly as the "cabaretera" that we start to think this is normal, then she jumps into her elaborate Brazillian number, heavily influenced by Carmen Miranda and in the midst of a cloud of fog her headdress is transformed into a basket of bananas with foil accents that are just too divine for words. You can imagine that this flaming volcano of a dancer would naturally attract as a husband an ultra conservative, nerdish lawyer (Ruben Rojo as Mario Cervera) from one of "the best families in Guadalajara" which here in the States would have translated as a Republican from a Texas oil clan. He also happens to be the son of a the "evil" woman that owns the cabaret where Elena was transformed from studious secretary into dancing harlot. This middle aged woman character, Rosaura Cervera (played by Andrea Palma) is so outlandish, yet believable when one thinks that she anticipated the Mayflower Madam in Manhattan by almost half a century, that it deserves a study of its own, not to mention a seminar for split personality experts. Her demeanor and looks is that of a Latin Marlene Dietrich, cigarette holder included, and she is obviously Elena's nemesis. Their double entendre conversations from the moment they meet again as 'decent' women are the blueprint of drag queen competition dialogs, accompanied by a cavalcade of sudden tragic expressions, fits of fluttering from multi-leveled eye-lashes, twisting of the mouths into serpent-like lip acrobatics, all of which could turn plumbers into female impersonators if adequately imitated with patient study, which actually makes this film a true primer for drag studies. There are many more twists and turn to the story which includes a film-noir jewelry heist, the unbridled passion of an escaped criminal, a murderous, deformed, yet loyal friend of Elena's, and so much more excitement than this summary could possibly describe. An extraordinary creation of kitsch that anticipates Latin soap operas by a generation, this is a groundbreaking document of B cinema, film noir and gender studies.
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A camp classic
nick-100123 July 2005
The best known in a series of lurid "Rumbera" films, a genre peculiar to Mexican Cinema which combines noir and musical numbers, and usually takes place in the underworld of nightclubs and gangsters. Starring Cuban actress Ninón Sevilla and directed by Alberto Gout who directed her in other similar films with names such as "Perdida" and "Sensualidad". Over the top photography and acting has to be seen to be believed. The image of the star in her "pineapple hat" is memorable. A campy stage show was created in the 1990's based on the film and is still running today in Mexico City. The great Andrea Palma appears in her later, matronly, manifestation as the "madam".
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jotix10020 May 2005
This greatly satisfying 1950 Mexican film, directed by Alberto Gout, is one of the best of the genre. It helped to have cast a charismatic Ninon Sevilla to star as the woman at the center of the action.

The story of "Aventurera", with its twists and turns, is something that was typical of the 1950s films from Mexico. The story of a young, and naive young woman who learns about her mother's disloyalty to a father she adores, sends this film spinning into a real adventure. Along the way, we are taken to watch Elena Tejero deal with the evils around her. She will remain a good woman no matter what.

As in all the Mexican soap operas that are a staple of that country's TV, "Aventurera" keeps building up on unsavory situations where our heroine will have to fight against until everything turns well at the end. Elena Tejera is different in many ways; she never stoops low to the sleazy life where everyone wants to get her into.

Ninon Sevilla, the Cuban born star of "Aventurera" makes a charismatic appearance in the film. She is a gorgeous woman seen here at the height of her youth. Tito Junco as Lucio Saenz has some good moments. Andrea Palma is excellent as the villainous Rosaura and Ruben Rojo is the kind Mario.

This is a fun film that keeps delighting us.
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In this cabaretera, Elena's curdled milk of human kindness would choke Mother Teresa
Terrell-415 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Elena Tejero (Ninon Sevilla) is a peppy young girl from a well-to-do family in Chihuahua, the kind who skips across the dining room to plant a happy kiss on her loving father's indulgent cheek. When her mother leaves home for another man and her father kills himself, a sad Elena decides to go to Juarez and find a new life as a secretary. It's not long before she learns men want more than dictation. Thanks to Pretty Boy Lucio, a pimp and gangster, the innocent Elena winds up drunk, drugged and assaulted in the brothel/cabaret owned by a woman known as Rosaura. This cruel queenpin of crime oscillates between Mother Gin Sling and, later, Joan Crawford on a fraught day. Elena's future is simple, Rosaura tells her. She'll entertain the customers on the nightclub floor and then entertain them again upstairs...or she'll feel the lame, mute Rengo's knife slice across her cheek. Elena does what she must, gains popularity as a dancer, never meets a man worth more than a used piece of wet chewing gum and gets out as soon as she can.

It's not long before Elena is a smash as a dancer and singer in Mexico City. She becomes engaged to a young lawyer of impeccable family...but there is a twist to the story about to happen that will shock and daze us. Elena by now has turned into a hard young woman who is determined to wreak vengeance on those who have ruined her life. She may be an ultimate victim but she's going to see that those who wronged her get theirs. Her curdled milk of human kindness would choke Mother Teresa. The twist, when it comes, is going to give Elena a lot of gimlet pleasure.

Aventurera is Elena's story. Hold on to your hats, your wallets and keep your zippers zipped. We're talking corruption and revenge; songs and production numbers; diaphanous costumes and pineapple hats, melodrama and death; sex and sin...lot's of sin. The movie is a type of Mexican film called a cabaretera, a cabaret/crime/melodrama movie that was hugely popular in post-WWII Mexico. The girls are fallen doves. The cabarets and nightclubs are just a step above brothels. The owners, hustlers and crooks are cruel and corrupt. The customers are hypocrites. And the songs are great.

Ninon Sevilla may not have been a great actress but she had energy to burn. When she's strutting, stomping and shaking across the stage you'd swear she was channeling Rita Hayworth and Carmen Miranda. As a dancer, her hips do most of the work. They must have been double jointed. There are five songs and three full-blown dancing-singing productions. They're great fun. Her Chiquita Banana number is impressive...

"Chiquita Banana, girl of Martinique, dresses in banana leaves.

She doesn't wear dresses, she doesn't wear pants.

Winter, summer, she doesn't care. It's no difference what she wears,

And she rightly says she's ready if someone wins her heart."

Aventurera, for all the shameless melodrama, is also something of a statement about feminism. Elena might become a bitter, unforgiving heroine, but there's not a man in sight worth worrying about. They're all just macho weaklings, selfish drunks, groping bosses sleazy crooks and horny adolescents. I could see Aventurera as an unusual American B- movie produced by Betty Friedan, Busby Berkeley and Edgar Ulmer.

With all the songs, dances, theatrics and...well, stuff, is Aventurera as campy as some say? Probably, I suppose, but no more than those Bollywood extravaganzas of passion, tears, dances and flashy costumes. It's most likely a movie you'll enjoy even if you say to yourself, "What next could possibly happen?" Just remember what that smooth singer early in the movie crooned to us with a Latin beat...

"Sell your love dearly, Aventurera./ May it pay the great cost of your painful past.

And he who awaits the sweet honey of your kiss / Must pay the price in diamonds for your sin.

Make him pay in diamonds for your sin."
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Lots of fun and laughs
fordraff20 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Take a Lana Turner impersonator, a melodramatic plot from a Douglas Sirk film, stir with Busby Berkeley dance routines and more than a little film noir shadows and fog, and you will have "Aventurera," a camp classic that provides 101 minutes of entertainment with a lot of fun and laughs.

It has a plot that goes on and on, the sort of story that would have been packed between the lurid covers of a '50's paperback. "The mother of the man she loved was the madam who'd turned her into a harlot," the banner across the cover would have read. And, indeed, this is the core situation of the plot, which has a strong narrative thrust. Had it been a novel, this would have been a page-turner, an all-night read.

Director Alberto Gout and screenwriters Alvaro Custodio and Carlos Sampelayo must have watched a great many American films during the 40s and then simply stitched together a film taking a little bit from this film and a little bit from another.

The robbery sequence, definitely like an American film noir, distinctly recalled "Crisscross" with Burt Lancaster. But other scenes had a definite noir look as well. The nightclub in Rosaura's brothel and her office, with its window that looked down on the customers seemed taken directly from "Gilda." Fog-shrouded streets resembled those of any number of noirs I've seen (foggy finale of "The Big Combo").

The dance numbers, all of which were superfluous to the plot, were influenced by 20th Century Fox musicals that featured Betty Grable and Carmen Miranda.

Had this been an American film, it would not have pleased the Hays Office for it is explicit in making clear that Elena becomes a prostitute. It's never obscene or vulgar; there are no nude scenes. Elena's rape is never shown, and when she appears the following morning to confront the madam, Rosaura, demanding to be let out of the brothel, all of her makeup is in place. Yet the scenes of the brothel show men and women, often obviously drunk, their arms about each other, pairing off and traipsing up the stairs to bedrooms from the nightclub. In one upstairs room, we see several couples sitting on couches kissing. The Hays Office would have demanded that such scenes be deleted.

Another thing that interested me about this film: all of the lead actors look very American. Ninon Sevilla, who plays Elena, obviously a graduate of the Lana Turner School of Dramatic Arts, acts with the Turner flashing eyes and flaring nostrils. Andrea Palma, the madam, reminded me of Corale Browne with a touch of Gloria Swanson thrown in. Ruben Rojo, who played Mario, was very handsome in an American leading man way (think Zachary Scott). However, the "bad guys" looked stereotypically Mexican. It seemed to me that the filmmakers were using actors that would make this film acceptable to Americans, though I don't know if the film received an American release back in 1949.

Don't take it seriously. Just enjoy!
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Mss Banana
tedg22 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is a gas.

Its Mexican, and in the Spanish tradition that everything goes: all sorts of narrative devices and all sorts of plot types are sliced and diced and served in a sort of salsa that makes sense.

Its old fashioned floor show musical, but sexier. Its old fashioned noir, but with more unlikely circumstance than usual. Its soap opera with more overt mugging than on daytime TeeVee. Its justice, and romance and white slavery.

And it works, which is the miracle that is the most attractive.

The noir elements are in the simple plot: girl on the street gets sold into slavery to a woman whose rich son she subsequently marries out of spite — and then falls in love with him. Emotional blackmail of the deepest, blackest kind as turnabout for sexual villainy of the blackest kind.

The strange thing is that they clearly designed the thing so that the musical numbers are the most attractive. Our innocent daughter is in her enforced sex slave mode when we first see them and we are supposed to ogle the same as the smarmy men who gather around and reach for her. Later, even after she does not have to, she reverts to this, the implication being that the sexual beast has been irreversibly unleashed.

But that's just what attracted the millionaire son, right? That raw, innocent sex? And that's what is supposed to attract us.

I guess its okay, if you are a Mexican audience, because she's Cuban, and therefore relatively wild in that way.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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They drugged her and when she awoke, she was shocked to learn....she was a nightclub singer!!!
MartinHafer15 June 2015
"Aventurera" has a good plot, but unfortunately the script was so watered down that all of its edginess is gone and what's left doesn't exactly make much sense. I assume it's because Mexican censors of the day wouldn't allow the film to be as explicit as it needed to be-- hence it comes off as a bit of a letdown. So, in many ways it is reminiscent of a post-code Hollywood picture--gutted of its sexuality and sordidness.

When the film begins, Elena is a happy young woman and her life seems wonderful. However, soon everything is in shambles and she's fighting to keep herself alive. It all begins when Elena's mother takes off with another man. The father, in his grief, commits suicide! Suddenly, Elena is forced to fend for herself and she cannot find a job. A 'friend' offers to help her and after he gives her some adulterated champagne, she awakens to find herself in captivity--forced to work for an evil lady.

At this point, you assume Elena is going to be a prostitute--and it looks as if that is what the film WANTS to say. However, this 'debased life' involves being forced to sing at a nightclub!!!! Huh?! Does this make sense?! Nah. They really are attempting, in a very clumsy way, to imply she's a prostitute and sleeps with customers--though you never see anything remotely like this and it's obviously a case of over-sanitizing the plot.

What follows is a plot by Elena not only to escape from her boss but to ruin her. The idea of this is great. But, like the whole prostitution angle, the film avoids the gritty angle and wimps out twice. First, the evil slasher Rengo inexplicably does NOT kill or disfigure Elena when he's ordered to but instead becomes her evil guardian angel. Why? I have absolutely NO idea. Second, after carrying out her plan to destroy the woman, Elena gets cold feet and backs off from her plan to ruin the 'lady' and her son. Why? Again, I just don't know!

Overall, this could have been a gritty and exciting film. Had it been made in France at the same time, it would have been dark and much less sanitized. While this is supposed to be one of Mexico's better films of the era, I just found it all to be a boring mess which again and again failed to capitalize on a decent story idea.
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El Bueno, el malo, y el feo
film-critic29 March 2008
"Aventurera" has all the trappings of a modern, classic noir film. It contains, but is not limited to, an exciting robbery heist gone wrong, double crossing, sexual innuendos, a dastardly mother, and a femme fatale that can not only hold her own with the guys, but dance whenever a moment gets too tense. If it weren't for the subtitles or the Spanish-language, this little film could have been the next "Gun Crazy" (aka "Deadly is the Female"). Made during an era where films were willing, and excited to take challenges, "Aventurera" begins with a bang and ends with a bigger bang. It successfully keeps your attention through numerous characters, both evil and righteous, while continuing to keep you in the dark about the true motives of our heroine, Elena (played by Ninon Sevilla). It is a classic, it is independent, it is violent, but it isn't perfect. While I laud the work done on this film, it was not as entertaining as one may initially perceive. This is a noir film, it is stylish and backstabbing all at the same time, but there is another element throughout the film which heavily pulls it away from the true roots of the word "noir", and that my friends, is the nearly half-dozen song and dance routines smitten throughout. These songs, these two-steps, detract from what is happening, they pull you away from the world surrounding our characters, and honestly, are used as nothing more than filler. A 70-minute film easily became 101-minutes with songs diced throughout. It is the one crucial element that pulled "Aventurera" from a supporting noir to a mediocre entry into 1940s cinema.

What was there to enjoy about this film? Outside of the painful moments mentioned above, the characters were rich, the story was disturbingly dark, and the twists came from every angle, nearly a mile-a-minute. This was an action packed thriller that would have left little time for comfort had it not been for those songs. There were people we couldn't trust, people that we did – but betrayed us, there were scandals, there were loves, there were blackmails – everything was in place for a solid film. Even the subtitles were strong, giving us a strong plot and easily following structures, but those songs – ARG! I digress, Ninon Sevilla portrayed Elena as this no-nonsense girl who wasn't afraid to show her emotion and be the one to take the lead. Videohound's Independent Film Guide quotes, "Before we saw it ["Aventurera"], we'd never heard of its star, Ninon Sevilla, and now we can't wait to see some of her other movies…", and I couldn't agree further. She captured the audience through the screen. We followed her, willingly or unwillingly, we kept our eyes close on her every move, wondering when her next big move was being planned or what cog we were going to witness in her overall master plan. She made this film exciting. Sevilla could even sing and dance, and while it was a distraction from the film, she was graceful and elegant in the way that she did it. I cannot fault her, only the choice of the creators.

Speaking of the creators (awesome segway), compliments must also be awarded to the writer and director of this film. Sans the dancing and singing, this is a strong unknown entry into the world of foreign noir. The story was tight; the tension between the actors felt real, and the construction of the story seemed solid. There were elements that felt too lightly handled, but when it came to the big bang moments, the team behind this film had no problem showing us their goods. "Aventurera" shocked me, much like other films from the 40s, with its dark sexual undertones. From the beginning of our film, we are introduced to infidelity and prostitution, and the bus doesn't stop there. This pushed the boundaries for this film and demonstrated a darker side of noir that reminded me of an early American noir feature entitled "Detour". Just like Ulmer, the creators of "Aventurera" have no issues with showing us poverty, and how the corrupt value of money can spark even the slightest greed in any heroine. On a side note, I especially enjoyed the portrait of Rengo, this crippled sidekick that steps out of the shadows for his heart. "Aventurera" is a very suspenseful film, and was able to keep this audience right at the edge of my seat.

Overall, this isn't a perfect film. This is a noir film from the top to the bottom, but in the middle there is a muddled murkiness that doesn't seem to fit and was added just to appeal to a masculine audience. If I have said it before, I will say it again; the song and dance numbers were destructive to this feature. They felt like commercials, interrupting key moments with breaks, only to return with this viewer feeling less excited about the future. There is one song which Sevilla wears bananas while dancing which brought me into a frustrating sweat due to its similarities to a horrid pseudo-documentary entitled, "Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business". This was the only moment where "Aventurera" felt stale and cliché. Was this overplayed Spanish-speaking cliché used only because it wanted to assure American audiences that they were in Mexico? Again, I cannot sit here and say that I loved everything about this film, because it would be a lie. I loved the juxtaposition between Sevilla and her arch rival, Rosaura (played by Andrea Palma) – their scene shot sparks from my DVD player. The characters are worth viewing this film once, maybe twice, but the songs are fast-forward-able. I can suggest it. See how dark in the late 1940s were for those living in Guadalajara.

Grade: *** ½ out of *****
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