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The Life of Juanita Castro (1965)

Ronald Tavel's THE LIFE OF JUANITA CASTRO is one of Andy Warhol's triumphs as a filmmaker. A playwright (Tavel himself) taunts a number of actors into improvising a truly ridiculous but ... See full synopsis »


Andy Warhol


Ronald Tavel


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Complete credited cast:
Marie Menken Marie Menken ... Juanita Castro
Elecktrah Elecktrah ... Raul Castro
Waldo Díaz Balart Waldo Díaz Balart ... Himself
Mercedes Ospina Mercedes Ospina ... Fidel Castro
Marina Ospina Marina Ospina ... Che Guevara
Ultra Violet ... (as Isabelle Dufresne)
Ronald Tavel Ronald Tavel ... Stage Director
Fayette Hauser


Ronald Tavel's THE LIFE OF JUANITA CASTRO is one of Andy Warhol's triumphs as a filmmaker. A playwright (Tavel himself) taunts a number of actors into improvising a truly ridiculous but subtlely meaningful meditation on Fidel Castro and his family, at a time when the revolution was bringing back disquieting stories of executions and imprisonments and, particularly, virulent hatred and torture of homosexuals in Castro's Marxist paradise. Hilarious as JUANITA is, it remains a history lesson wherein fascism itself is on display and the audience is encouraged to laugh---but with some discomfort.

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

22 March 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La vida de Juanita Castro See more »

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User Reviews

The most intellectual of Warhol's movies
4 March 2001 | by nunculusSee all my reviews

Warhol , it is reported, had a brilliant stroke of invention. Ronald

Tavel, the co-director, staged this absurdist romp about Castro

and Che Guevara in a single crowded space, with all the

actresses (it is an all-female cast) facing front. Tavel sits among

them, telling them what to do and say. Warhol moved the camera

from a head-on position to the side. He created the sadistic

triangle that exists in all his movies. On one side, the spectator. On

the other, the actor. On the third side, some unseen force--i.e.,

Warhol himself--to whom the actors look in supplication and hate.

Apolitically surrealist, vaguely racist, and as formalist as a

Messiaen essay on birdsong, JUANITA CASTRO exists almost

exclusively from the neck up. (The grim, overcast cinematography

may be party to this.) An etude on politics and theatre as exercises

in seen and less-seen control, CASTRO doesn't pretend to be

brainless in the way most Warhol movies do. Still, it strikes me as

no loss that Warhol gave up "having something to say."

Most contemporary audiences will find this tough going. But

something about this mass of seated women, gazing offscreen in

a collective CLOSE ENCOUNTERS stupor, feels timelessly


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