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A Miracle of a Movie.
26 September 2016
I don't have the necessary English vocabulary to praise this jewel of a film. But no matter how wide the knowledge of a language can be, one will always fall short when praising this remarkable creation.

Simply amazing: Director (Pietro Germi), actors, camera, script... Perfection, absolute perfection. Every single situation is played with amazing vitality and bubbling gags are practically in every scene in this bittersweet story.

One hopes Sicilians have changed their "morals" from the 1950s to today, because nowadays the conflict depicted here seems unreal and preposterous: A guy (Peppino Califano) refuses to marry the girl (Stefania Sandrelli) (15 going to 16) because, "since she gave in to his sexual advances", now she's considered a "Puttana" and men require to marry virgins, otherwise he'll be the laughing stock in the village (a Cornuto).

The central character of the story is the father of this girl, the "offended" party, and the fireworks displayed by this actor (Saro Urzi) are just out of this world. The beauty of Stefania Sandrelli was also out of this world, as she looks like a Madonna painted by a Rinascimento master.

And she breaks our hearts finding herself in that tremendous conflict that will take her to an inevitable nervous breakdown. Again, women's position in Sicily was very close to total servitude to the dominant male in the family.

Lightweight comedy for a wrenching situation until the very bitter ending. Try watching this impossibly wonderful movie, a gift from the Gods of Cinecittà.
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Celos (1946)
Cold, very cold in the Russian Steppes while feverish the mind of a jealous husband.
3 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
León Tolstói was the Russian author chosen by the makers of this excellent movie to be the basis for the film script, with his novel "The Kreutzer Sonata". Being one of the leaders and precursor of the Naturalism in literature, his themes are usually the conflicts between man and woman seen from a somber point of view.

We notice that from the very beginning of the film, with a group of aristocrats discussing in the comfort of the first class train cabin, while traversing the icy Russian steppes and being detained at the time by a huge snowstorm that will last for hours, the mores of their time (the nineteenth century) when this unknown passenger interrupts their discussion shocking them with a personal revelation.

Eventually the mysterious passenger goes to his own cabin, where he relates his private tragedy to the only other passenger there.

Flash back to the start of his unhappy marriage, marred by his terrible jealousy, that will evolve to an unbearable pitch reducing his lovely wife into a nervous wreck, since she has done nothing to deserve such treatment.

Splendid Zully Moreno in one of her best performances, magnificent in period costumes excellently designed and executed by Eduardo Lerchundi, one of the great dress designers of the 1940s.

Zully's waist in those costumes is so small that one must see it to believe it. She was so elegant and photogenic!!

Pedro López Lagar plays the jealous husband in a veritable tour de force. He is fantastic depicting this tormented man.


Man that little by little falls in the deepest abyss of unjustified jealousy and eventual craziness that will resolve in dark and final tragedy at the end.


The sets, the wardrobe, the lighting, the music, the interpretations are top drawer. If one could only find a sharp copy of this film...
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La trampa (1949)
Zully Moreno without makeup!!
2 August 2016
I couldn't believe the first few scenes on this film seeing Zully Moreno without makeup. Practically unthinkable. But it happened! Her character is that of a youngish woman entering middle age before her time. Tailored suits, sensible shoes, tight hairdo with a french chignon and mousy brown hair. She had decided love was out of the question in her case and resigned herself to have a sedated life, going to the movies alone or with her only close female friend (Juana Sujo) and very little else.

But one day her eye is caught by a small newspaper ad (yes, at that time newspapers were printed on PAPER! remember that we are in 1949) and such ad was asking for "a lady with no relatives to meet a well-bred middle aged gentleman", etc.

Of course you know right there that Zully's life (well, her character in the movie) was going to have a drastic change from that moment on.

And drastic is a mild way to put it..., to start with, since she responded to that add, the well-bred gentleman wrote her a letter asking to see her, giving her an address. Without thinking twice she (obviously) decided to have a change of image and walked into a beauty parlor... wow! what came out of it was... Zully Moreno!! dolled up and blond as a Valkyria with a floating shoulder length mass of hair, a tiny waistline and truly yours gorgeous!

Enough about Zully.

The movie is quite mediocre; every scene we have seen a thousand times before and after in so many soap operas, better or worse, depending on personal taste.

A character that is ABSOLUTELY out of place and totally incomprehensible within the mystery plot is the one played by Juana Sujo. Nobody seemed to have had the remotest idea about what to do with her during the filming of this drama (not to mention the puzzled audience), because if somebody from the crew have had just the thinnest idea about her conduct, she could have made (maybe) some sense within the story.

A solution to this intringulis comes to mind: Could it be that being such an old film when they restored it they left out some scenes where miss Sujo finds out something very important that predisposes her to that mad behavior during her visit?

As it was presented, she was incredibly hostile to Zully (her BEST FRIEND??) to Zully's husband and to the audience, because many times she looks into the camera lens in close ups with such hate and hallucination that she seems to be judging negatively my demitasse porcelain cups behind the glass in the dining room, where I was watching the movie.

Don't waste your time with this one. Just watch it briefly to get acquainted with the Tigre, a beautiful delta consisting of many small islands covered with a luxuriant forest just in front of Buenos Aires, few minutes away by boat, where people have summer houses.

A very young Carlos Thompson plays a handsome policeman that works in the delta and we can easily imagine the relation of his being in this movie with the budding of a new romance as a deserved fresh new beginning in life for our beleaguered protagonist.
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A bit late to review a 66 year old film...
5 June 2016
But, what are 66 years in the history of the World??

A wink of the eye.

I saw this movie yesterday. A crazy comedy that I only could compare with "Hellzapoppin'", a Hollywood production, or some Marx Brothers films.

Totally implausible situations, lived by our heroine, Mirtha Legrand, so pretty and unreal that she even plays a window store mannequin, adopting the pose and keeping quiet and... nobody noticing the deceit!!!

But there are much more outrageous situations, like her being wrapped up in a Persian carpet, tied up in it and even kicked by the thieves --they don't know a person is inside the rolled carpet.

Those thieves are behind a necklace valued at one million and a half Pesos (in 1950 the value of a Dollar was 15,20 Pesos --I checked it on the Internet-- and the whole film is a continuous pursue between police and robbers to see who will get first to that necklace.

All sorts of hilarious mishaps will happen during this desperate search by pursuers on both sides of the law.

Mirtha Legrand was an excellent comedy actress, safe when she had to play drunkenness... One cringes and feels the embarrassment she must have felt playing that scene.

The movie must have been planned for twelve year old boys, so, if you are able to go back to that time in you life, it's a very entertaining pastime.

I enjoyed it very much.

As a matter of fact I swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

I will never reveal who got the necklace.
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A String of Pearls
3 August 2015
My Summary phrase came to mind after watching this 2011 Álex de la Iglesia masterwork. It was, as a string of pearls, a string of scenes, so perfect, so smooth in their sequencing, that, with the help of an impeccable photography and admirable soundtrack we got spell bounded from the beginning of this splendid movie to its brilliant ending, a pathetic story almost unbearable to watch.

Unbearable to watch thanks to the forceful interpretation of our protagonist couple, Luisa (Salma Hayek) and Roberto (José Mota) who, all of a sudden, find out how tough and painful life can become in a matter of seconds.

Roberto's desperation to find a job, after months of fruitless interviews is the Gordian knot that plunges him (and us) into what will become a major film. The script construction is peerless, as is the interpretation of every actor involved in the complicated choreography, very difficult to film, of this gem of a movie, all encompassed by the hand of this genius, Alex de la Iglesia.

Only at the end of the projection we get the subliminal message given at the start of the movie, behind the cast names and credits, with takes that seem to be only background texture..., and they tell you the whole story.

Our string of pearls has a gorgeous diamond clasp. It loops the string with a superb finale, showing us how deep is Luisa's love for her husband Roberto. It couldn't have had a better ending.
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The Aura (2005)
And Then There Were None.
21 July 2015
As a movie, it's very well done, and yes, maybe unnecessarily a bit too slow, and I don't care how good an actor can be, when you fix a camera on his face, full close-up for whole minutes at a time and hope for the spectator to guess what this silent face is thinking... is asking for too much.

The background music is exceptional.

All the characters in this movie are DREADFUL PEOPLE and I at least am sick and tired of dreadful characters. Why is it more interesting to follow the life of these kind of rats of the underworld when there is a brighter side to it?

The scum of humanity. What else can you call people that take pleasure from shooting vulnerable animals with long distance rifles for the sake of it??

"Life's a pain anyway" said once Greta Garbo to Laurence Olivier. Fine! but then don't make it more painful by making this kind of extremely depressing movies please!

This film ends like Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus"!!! Even if I share Greta's point of view, for X's sake... give me a bit of color to make it through the day!!!

As most other reviewers I appreciate all the good qualities on this production, truly remarkable, especially because compared with a Hollywood production it has been made with peanuts, and that alone takes a lot of credit!!!

An interesting turnabout on the main character is his building up a stronger self with his reaction towards the nastiness commanding the action of bullies but that seems to be the only positive lesson, although he accomplished it with extreme violence.

I found incompatible his "I don't kill animals" with being a taxidermist. Although his action at the end of the movie shows us that maybe, after all, he did mind it killing animals.
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Tiempo perdido
20 July 2015
After seeing "Tiempo de valientes" by this very gifted director, Damian Szifron, and being mesmerized by the high quality of that movie, I searched for another of his few titles, and found "El fondo del mar", which is a previous production, maybe his first movie.

They say that "second parts are never good", well, in this case we have to reverse the saying because the second part ("Tiempo de valientes") is undoubtedly MUCH better than the first film ("El fondo del mar") and I'm sure Mr. Szifron agrees with me.

Here I will plagiarize the phrase another reviewer used as the title for his critic, a jdruni, from Philadelphia, that said "Moods rather than storyline". How accurate, how clear minded to be able to express with a minimum of words the whole purpose of this picture!! (But nobody knows if the movie was made with that intention).

They touch here the jealousy motive, old as the world and a never ending manifestation of the human character as long as people will survive to only three inhabitants on this earth. Paranoid jealousy can be extremely perilous. For the jealous and for his/her victim.

What the jealous person doesn't realize is that when his/her partner gets a lover, THERE IS A REASON for doing so. It's so simple. Most people never think that one may not be totally fulfilling as a lover, a friend, a caring partner, etc. because... NOBODY IS PERFECT!!

We all lack or fail in a determined field and the other person has to look for that missing link on somebody else. Many triangles are the perfect solution for this dilemma. But unfortunately people get extremely aggravated when they are faced with their own weaknesses and there comes out the ugly monster of jealously and the following discussions, beatings, and many times, killings.

It's a pity that this film starts in excellent shape to go downhill scene by scene to a very confusing ending, leaving the audience in a blank state of confusion. For example, the episode of the empty swimming pool was so obscure that I only got its meaning towards the end, when somebody mentions that incident. And many other details get lost without explanation or even motive!! The actors were good and the technical part irreproachable. But the film lets you down.
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Riveting. From Beginning to End.
19 July 2015
Impeccable production characterizes this jewel of a film. The photography, as realistic as present technique allows it to be, introduces us in intimate contact to this couple --the policeman and his psychoanalyst-- so cozily that we feel we are there with them, following their casual conversation in the car, few minutes into the movie, while looking at a lovingly photographed Buenos Aires on hand picked locations as if we are just seeing a background on an apparently casual route.

The camera movements are awesome. Its smoothness throughout the whole movie makes of every scene a natural happening helped by a precise use of lighting, either for the day scenes or the night time.

What can we say about the director --Damián Szifron-- and his actors? they are a sheer joy in every scene --not only Diego Peretti and Luis Luque, the above mentioned couple of psychoanalyst and patient --every single actor in this movie is role perfect, delivering their lines with a naturalness that was absolutely unknown in the historical Argentinian films. There are many clever lines, in the comedy scenes and in the dark --very dark-- serious moments, specially with that cameo intervention of Gabriela Iscovich --the psychoanalyst wife-- in a hilarious role.

A superbly entertaining film with a bit of everything, comedy, noir, mystery, violence, all done with that Argentinian flavor unique to this country, like that scene in the policeman car, where the three guys are drinking Mate --the Argentinian familiar drink par excellence-- as if drinking Mate in a police car was a natural, everyday situation.

Excellent film from any point of view.
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Anita (2009)
Alejandra Manzo. Incredible.
15 July 2015
Every so often I watch an old Argentinian movie on You tube. For reasons unknown to me, most of those copies are in such rotten condition that most of the time they deflate your desire to watch the movie.

Specially those from the 20s, 30s, 40s and fifties.

What happened, they don't care about the preservation of our historical patrimony? From the 60s to the present there seems to be no problem with audio and visuals.

I mentioned that historical period of Argentinian movie making because the transition from that bland, amateurish, mediocre industry to what became later in the XXth century is something to be seen to believe it - I place the dividing line with "La historia oficial"- "Official Story", 1985, a movie that was a sort of an earthquake (at least for me) a jaw dropping jewel of a movie that defined a new standard of excellency for the Argentinian cinema.

More expert critics with our industry will certainly place that dividing line somewhere else.

And since then, many jewels adorn our cinema. Like this one, "Anita". Wow, what an excellent movie!! Every thing about it is top drawer, from the director down to the last extra. And same thing can be said about the cinematography. Peerless. The girl playing Anita -Alejandra Manzo- fitted the perfect casting like a glove fits a hand, a dream of any director when having to convey Down syndrome with that awesome understanding and delicacy respecting the sensibilities of actors and audiences alike.

Very moving film in most scenes, without being wimpy. Something utterly difficult to hold back in this case, where the director could have gone overboard with emotions creating a tsunami of tears. I assume the girl playing Anita is not, in real life, as incapacitated as the character in the film, otherwise it must have been a miracle to have her saying her lines as she did.

To me, Anita's character is the most pathetic I've seen since "Precious", 2009, with Gabourey Sidibe, and of course Gelsomina, in "La Strada", 1954, that unforgettable Fellini's masterpiece.
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Turn the Key Softly
3 June 2015
I loved this movie! The three women destinies in a large metropolis (London -1950s) after they come out of jail with very different expectations seems to be quite an usual storyline in those years. London itself --as any large city-- looks completely different from the present London, although through this gloriously misty black and white photography it has a nostalgic Memory Lane feeling absolutely unique.

One wishes to have been able to walk those streets and feel that particular atmosphere, completely gone by now.

The film: It's so very well acted and edited that when it comes to the end, it seems to have only lasted for ten or fifteen minutes. The three women stories are quite banal but engaging because they are displayed alternately so we get to know these characters one by one and at the same time, since they run parallel lives and will keep in touch through different daily happenings.

The beauty and sex appeal of a young Joan Collins was something to be seen. She was gorgeous! specially at the beginning, when still in jail and without any noticeable make up, she was stunning. As stunning as Joan, but on a different level was Yvonne Mitchell, a sedated beauty, classy and cool, very elegant and certainly as grand as any titled lady (many titled ladies will kill their grandmothers if they could look like her).

The sequence on top of the building with the intervening police was quite nerve wreaking and superbly filmed and edited. The scenes with the old lady --Kathleen Harrison-- and her beloved dog, Johnny, were the sentimental segment that cemented the different episodes among these three women.

There is a crucial scene where the title "Turn the key softly" makes sense because it was dependent on that, that one of the protagonists could escape a cruel and unjust outcome. Even if nowadays the strings pulled in this movie to keep one interested in the story telling are too obvious, the film doesn't fail in entertaining one from beginning to end.
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Quartet (1948)
Four stories
26 May 2015
Since I read all these four stories, long ago, I found it interesting when seeing the film version on "You Tube", to watch it --a bit hesitant I must say-- but I was nicely surprised to see four excellent short movies condensing quite well those wonderful stories (when I read them I couldn't have had enough of Somerset Maugham's writing mastery and read, I think, most of his literary wealth, what a writer, what imagination!!).

I don't know if these stories could be made today as full length movies, probably not, since the argument's line is very subtle and to lengthen them it will involve adding superfluous material that will completely destroy those gossamer stories.

These four episodes are an excellent example of good, solid, English movie making, without any waste of time, first rate photography (Black and white) and sound, impeccable lighting and very professional actors, in all four segments, as good as the four directors involved in this project.

I would strongly recommend its viewing since the many messages conveyed in all the segments are a distilled essence of Mr. Maugham's varied experiences through his very long life and almost oriental wisdom that could become a welcome addition to our humbler lives.
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Indiscreet (1958)
Ingrid Bergman as Doris Day (Ingrid was more beautiful).
21 May 2015
I read several previous reviews and agree with everything they say about this film being very entertaining, gorgeous leading protagonists, etc.


Once a friend of mine said to me "I'm OK with watching a film tonight, but PLEASE, don't make me watch an OLD film!!!". Watching this one made me recall that friend's plea, and understand it too.

1958 was the date in this case, and when you get to see the hypocritical social conventions those people lived --and dyed-- for, one trembles at the idea of conducting such type of living conditions...

The woman over twenty five, our leading lady (Bergman was 42 when she made this movie, but she represented 30, jaw-dropping beautiful) was constantly looking --and starting to get desperate-- for a... HUSBAND, because apparently to be single was one of the original Capital Sins at the time.

IF she found a candidate, it was verboten for her to be the one making overt declarations of love, even of amorous interest!

In this case she had a younger sister (Phyllis Calvert, born the same year Ingrid Bergman was born, and looking quite stunning herself) a sister that was more level headed but brainwashed also with all the prejudices of those days, that tried all the time to find a candidate for her unlucky sister (unlucky because she was getting on in years and wasn't married yet), creating some mildly funny dialogs.

Cary Grant's character suffered a similar persecution (it WAS a veritable, obsessive persecution at the time) from people asking him WHY wasn't he MARRIED and with children at HIS AGE... (he looked older than Bergman but was exceedingly handsome and incredibly elegant).

A fascinating detail of upper-crust luxury living we'll never experience was in that night scene where from the moment they leave the theater and start walking fully in love with each other and her chauffeured personal Rolls Royce --black and white-- silently and slowly keeps pace with them at their disposition whenever they could decide to stop walking...Wow!! (They arrived at her place walking all the way from the theater (she was a famous actress), totally oblivious of the Rolls, that stops silently in front of her building, its chauffeur waiting for new orders).


Since we discovered that Grant's character had the nerve to coldly lay out his theory of enjoying women without the responsibility of marriage and children suffocating his bachelor freedom, invents a wife impossible to divorce as a pretext to always escape any uncomfortable situations (why he cannot get a divorce, is never explained in the script) poor Bergman would be socially ostracized because they... HAD SEX!!! (not on the screen please, one only gathered that by seeing a softly closing door (bedroom door) with both of them behind it) and that scene dimming down to black, probably to allow you to recover your breath after watching such salacious and daring situation.

And since the male star protagonist of this kind of movies couldn't possibly end the film as a total villain (enjoying women without..., etc, etc.), everything is finally explained and they get happily married!! Isn't that nice? Wow! and I watched the whole concoction to the bitter end!!! (I was forced to, since a friend asked me very politely to watch this movie that previously he enjoyed immensely).

Yes, it was superbly played by everybody involved in the film, the sets were gorgeous, the women dresses were out of this world, everybody's manners SUPERB (from that point of view one aches to return to those gone with the wind days) but otherwise, compared with practically ANY contemporary movie... it's just another Doris Day movie, but with Ingrid Bergman replacing her.

One thing that stroke me from the very opening scene was the close up of those magnificent roses... being ARTIFICIAL FLOWERS!!! Same in another scene where he sends her a bouquet of flowers and they are again ARTIFICIAL!!!

Why? they worked with a superb budget, certainly could afford two dozen of beautiful REAL roses. I could only understand such a situation in the Latin American movies of the time, where we were accustomed to these type of faux pas as part of very-very low budget movie making, but unpardonable in a De Luxe Hollywood product.

Like in a Puerto Rican film with the Argentinian Libertad Leblanc as protagonist where she wears a sleeveless polyester déshabillé with the price ticket dangling from the gown's armhole!! (did they snatched it at a basement sale?!), leans over to smell the bouquet of flowers sent her by an admirer... and the flowers are...PLASTIC!! (it was a serious crime-drama film) we felt down from our seats screaming with laugher in utter delight!!

Basta! watch this movie for the beautiful people involved, the beautiful sets and even the beautiful fake flowers, but forget about real life situations because you won't find that here.
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Uncle Silas and false eyelashes.
6 May 2015
"Uncle Silas" (1864) was probably Sheridan Le Fanu's (Irish writer) masterpiece and his only work still read today. A macabre mystery novel and a classic of Gothic horror. Contrary to most of Le Fanu production, always dealing with ghosts and the supernatural, "Uncle Silas" deals only with real people, TOO REAL...

Translated and adapted to the big screen in 1947 by the Argentinian movie-making industry under two different titles: "El misterioso tío Silas" ("The Mysterious Uncle Silas") or "La telaraña" ("The Spiderweb"), with Elisa Galvé as the naive young, vulnerable and unprotected newly heir to her father's fortune, relentlessly pursued by several shady characters under different pretenses only to grab her money.

There are good people that try to help her to get rid of those undesirables but... everybody seems to be so nice..

The storyline makes for an enjoyable film, shot in black and white and with a beautiful and very young Elisa Galvé who, for totally unknown reasons wears, during the whole movie, false eyelashes so outlandish they must have belonged to Sally Bowles ("Cabaret"), ruining with them her exquisite delicate features and the whole movie of course.

The little I know about the 19th century doesn't include enormous false eyelashes, especially on a rigidly educated high class young lady... This is a major flaw, followed by her wardrobe. A nightmare. Paco Jaumandreu was a very well known Argentinian dress designer (Eva Peron's close friend and confidant) but it seems that for period costumes he either didn't have the knack, the specialized workrooms or the documentation. All her dresses look like made last weekend with love by her aunt, that wasn't quite an expert with thread and scissors... Fortunately the black and white photography and shadowy sets conceal someway this Hellzapoppin' of a wardrobe.

The movie is watchable --no big shakes-- although some of the actors are wooden in a theatrical way and deliver their lines as if speaking from the pulpit. Elisa Galvé, surprisingly, was a very good actress. And so was María Santos (her personal maid), a character actress that at the time must have intervened in a thousand movies. "Silas" was AWFUL! Not to mention Galvé's "father"... (was the same actor playing two roles? the copy on "You Tube" was so bad that everything was quite out of focus. As I said on another review, Argentinian movies up to the seventies, are only to be watched by Argentinians...
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La quintrala (1954)
A historic real life Chilean Character
3 April 2015
Doña Catalina de los Ríos y Lisperguer was the real name of this QUINTRALA woman (nickname: Catrala, Catralita derived from Catalina, although others say she got it from a poisonous parasitic creeper native to Chile, the Quitral, whose branches she used to flog her slaves with.

The casting of Ana María Lynch for the role was PERFECT, the real historic figure could have, very well, looked like this actress; the real Catalina was famous for her beauty... and her horrendous cruelty. She was born in Chile in 1604 and died there at the very old age of (for that time standards) 61 years in 1665.

During the seventeen century she was the richest and most powerful WOMAN in the whole of Chile. Many books, articles, soap operas and this movie were produced thanks to her mythical figure in history. She was tall, redhead, with hypnotic green eyes and alabaster skin, a mixture of Caucasian -Spaniards and Germans- and South American Indians, making her one of the hottest sex spots in Santiago de Chile.

Sexual appeal that she put to use wasting no time when at seventeen she poisoned her father because he threatened to disinherit her and place her in a convent, due to her extreme impudent conduct (nowadays: Women's Liberation).

Semi-illiterate (at that time women were forbidden knowledge of any kind, only church, confession and mass every day) and with a tempestuous temper, member of the richest family in the country, landowners of enormous amounts of land and tons of slaves (typical of the seventeen century) she grew wild and free from any social convention, being one of the untouchables; la Quintrala was sadistic and abusive, torturing her slaves to death (also killing many of her lovers) and went through life free of any denunciation thanks to the enormous amounts of money she distributed among the clergy, government and judges.

It's obvious that if she died peacefully in bed at 61, she never paid at the end -as in those 1950s movies with a Happy Ending- for her life of debauchery.

This movie depicts quite well all those goings on with an excellent photography and all actors involved. It's a pity that the version offered on "You Tube" lacks many scenes, but it seems that that condition of this picture is what remains of it.

Very impressive the earthquake scenes!!

It shows, overwhelmingly, the heavy, sickening, "moral" religious atmosphere Chileans were immersed in at the time thanks to the catholic church (They ruled with an iron hand and their infamous Inquisition) when women were totally repressed, slavery was a daily habit and so was the lynching of slaves and other undesirables, all of it conveniently wrapped with the periodical religious processions destined to subjugate a totally ignorant population.

Very good film, although quite slow, dark (in subject matter and photography) but fascinating because of its real life character, who, nowadays, could be the icon of a new, sensational remake!!

You can watch this movie on "You Tube" and read (mesmerizing reading) La Quintrala's biography on Wikipedia!! Read it FIRST and then watch the movie.
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Interesting thriller. Unexpected ending.
2 April 2015
Surprisingly this is a good movie considering its age and the period in Argentinian film making when it was produced (1955) not exactly the best time for the national filmography (Dictatorship and church united). Believe it or not, it seems they have to fake a passionate kiss with shut mouths and still poses, like manikins in a window shop. As you can imagine, that destroys any believability to the scene (specially considering current cinema!!!).

Not surprisingly we noticed the difference it makes when the script and its dialogs are sound, as they were in this case. I consider it a Film Noir Argentinian style. Suspense builds up from the very beginning and keeps mounting to a fast ending. Pity that this copy in "You Tube" was quite mediocre and the night time scenes were practically a black screen only understandable because of the spoken dialog.

Amelia Bence was one of the few true stars of our cinema and incredibly she's still alive and over 100 years old!!! She was always considered a serious actress and quite competent, with a very beautiful voice.

Carlos Cores, (Héctor in the story and its central character) was also one of the best actors as well as one of the handsomest at the time. He also had a beautiful voice.

Nelly Panizza (The secretary, also available after hours for extra duties) had an important part in this story and she was quite good at it. And for some inexplicable reason I see her as a tone down version of Faye Dunaway, quite alluring really.

I find this story to be a good one to be redone today, with current freedom of expression and so much better technical skills. The final shot was very impressive because it reveals a truth (disguised till that moment), that could distraught ANYONE, no matter how sturdy his/her temperament could be, because invariably it will be followed by now unanswerable questions: "What IF... this didn't happen..."?? "What if... it was just another --final-- lie??" It could make an excellent thriller!! At least it held my attention to the bitter end, which is quite a lot, believe you me.
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To gaze at Zully's face only.
1 April 2015
Let's start by clarifying that Argentinian movies made before the 1970s can only be endured by Argentinians...for the sake of nostalgia and nothing else; movies like this one, from 1955, are too dated, too subjected to moral codes imposed by the church of the time (one of the three dominant powers in Argentina --then and now-- next to the military and the politicians) while the acting and directing was stilted, almost theatrical. The photography was quite acceptable.

And that influence was, of course, deadly for the narrative and the reality of all characters. The other factor, nowadays incredible as it seems, was the overwhelming amount of MACHISMO that permeated this society at the time. Women could only be "decent married types", always exemplary mothers and total ladies with their skirts six inches below the knee and professional hairdresser's perfect chignons.

Not a single hair out of place in a perfect hairdo (Just a single strand out of place indicated something disturbing happened, like a burned turkey because the oven was to hot or the intrusion in her house of a rapist that attempted to rape her but she defended her honor with a butcher's knife, ergo, her hair came undo during the rough-house (well, only a little-little strand of hair, OK?).

Enough of that.

Zully Moreno, the protagonist, was, during that decade --1950s-- the Queen of Argentinian cinema, married to Luis César Amadori, the director of this film. She wasn't exactly Julienne Moore as interpreters go, she was just adequate and resorted to the same expression for Anguish, Fear, Joy and any other show of emotions a human being could experience.

But she was SPLENDID looking, the camera fell in love with her face and with the help of others (make-up man, hair dresser, costume designer, master gaffer, etc.) she photographed as a true beauty.

Carlos López Moctezuma, a Mexican actor (219 movies!!!) was the leading man, quite correct also, but always withing that school of acting. And the same for the rest of the cast.

The third character worth mentioning was the one played by Nelly Panizza (she was always the Bad Woman...) that in her couple of scenes was directed (and dressed!!) to be SO OBVIOUS that even the five year old in the audience would immediately understand her profession. Pity, because she was a good actress.

The script is quite sketchy and one never finds out what really happened a few years before in her life, (now she's the very image of the proper housewife) and "the thing" is mentioned in very delicate terms.

The worse scenes --as always in those days with Argentinian films-- were the ones with child actors...(I tremble remembering that I watched the whole film), for some reason the poor things could never deliver naturally the most simple sentence. Even "Mommy" and "Daddy" as the only dialog for them came out FALSE.

And the final scene is something to remember... (I almost ruined my PC after throwing a shoe at the screen).
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A Jewel
30 January 2015
Everything has already been said about this magnificent piece of movie making. And much better than I could ever attempt to do, but even so, I want to be part of the grateful audience that got so much aesthetic pleasure from watching this masterpiece of intrigue and suspense.

It seems almost incredible the way tension gathers scene after scene, to a point where one feels intolerable to continue viewing this film because one stopped breathing and is rapidly asphyxiating due to the tightening of the whole body almost slipping down the edge of the seat on the fringes of a nervous breakdown!! As other reviewers pointed out, all actors were astoundingly good, the black and white photography, impeccable, the editing superb and let's say that all the personnel involved in the making of this movie created sheer magic by dedicating all their knowledge and artistic flair to a jewel that by now is a legendary example of superb movie making.
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Kanal (1957)
Kanal In My Mind
29 January 2015
Probably my contribution to this film is an unfair one, since I'm writing from a feeling that comes back to my memory when I see the title "Kanal" all of a sudden and some flashes appeared in my mind of that sensational film.

I should see it again and study my reaction NOW, a totally different person from that young adult that I was when I saw this picture.

I can recall leaving the movie theater when the film ended with a devastating sense of doom not only because of the total blackness of the movie but specially by its ending, absolutely crashing, morally and physically.

Of course Hollywood would have never done such a dark movie and the feminine character would have walked thru the sewer system in some designer clothes, fully made up and coiffed to death, happily singing Che sara, sara --or Who's Sarah?-- (Doris Day as the protagonist? 1957 right?).

I honestly believe that I never saw a most depressing movie in my whole life. Maybe "Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini" (Sublime!!) but color photography helped to take it out of that terrible sense of doom we get from the black and white "Kanal".

A MASTERPIECE, no doubt, but you must be in the right mood to watch it without getting dangerously depressed.
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One review only
12 January 2015
It really makes me sad when I see some forgotten movie that no one ever saw. And then you see ONE review... Somebody SAW that movie and after enjoying it wrote a review!! Of course, after reading such review I HAD to watch that movie!! And here I'm writing the SECOND review (who knows, one day we may have several reviews for a movie that isn't bad at all).

But first, in order to understand why so many people stay away from these old films I must transfer these (FEW) lines from a long and fascinating article that appeared today in the Huffpost Create Post --12 January 2015-- and here they are:

"Why the Big New Trend in Tech Might Be...: In a recent study, more than half of adults in the UK said that they would stop eating (77%), talking (60%), working (60%), and sleeping (58 %), to answer their mobile phone. Now Apple, Google, Samsung et al want to strap a watch to your wrist and make it buzz every time you have a missed call, email or text message."

OK, I intersected that information from our PRESENT DAY to contrast what an old film (1951) could seem to the younger generation almost an alien product, and indeed, one has to make a very hard mental accommodation to get INTO that story, those characters and their surroundings.

Everything looks extremely outmoded, from men's suits (it goes without saying women's clothes), cars, street life, night life, the prostitution business, friendship, motherhood, sisterhood, etc.

The funny thing is that in a very few minutes into this film, one forgets those trivialities and it really GRABS ONE and doesn't let go till the bitter end!!

You'll find the morals totally outdated, the immersion of these poor people into religion incredibly present in their lives and the concept of right and wrong as hardly compartmentalized as their religious rules dictated at the time (at least in Mexico).

But again, glide over those nowadays fortunately surpassed prejudices and watch the story (fascinating story, by one of the greatest masters of the universal literature: Fydor Mikhailovitch Dostoevsky) very well translated to the screen and artfully acted by the whole cast (another thing to remember: The acting was Mexican, and as it was the case with the Argentinian movies, they were a bit excessive in showing their emotions (until the 60s?)... and specially the Anglo-Saxon may find it a bit disconcerting).

As far as I'm concerned... I LOVED IT, I LOVED IT, I LOOOVED IIIIT!!!
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I Liked It!!
15 April 2014
I'm so sick and tired of movies about dreadful people, drugs, violence, blood all over the screen... I was reticent about watching this movie, since my taste is already twisted by so may car crashes and decapitated bodies, but it was one of those things, a friend lent me this DVD and since I liked Jim Carrey so much in "I Love You Phillip Morris" I decided to watch this film, seeing Angela Lansbury was in it also.


I read several of the previous reviews (fortunately AFTER I watched the picture) and noticed that many of those reviewers are excellent Special Effects producers, since they shred them to pieces. Well, I'm not a Special Effects specialist so, I found them ASTOUNDINGLY GOOD!!

During my time in the business I spent so many hours designing sets and clothes and being there, watching the filming of a scene endless times until I thought I was loosing my mind, that I can appreciate ANY effort made by a crew trying to come up with something good, making it impossible for me to put down other people's efforts.

I loved the penguins, the way they looked, the way they acted and interacted with all the actors involved in their scenes... I found ALL THE ACTORS excellent in their roles --otherwise they wouldn't be there, believe me-- , from the humblest ones to Jim Carrey.

I have no complains about the plot, the happenings, the incredibility of most of the scenes... I just enjoyed this movie as much as I never imagined I could have enjoyed it. It leaves you with a nice, clean feeling about life and people.

Listen, I know as much as you do that this life and its people STINK, but once in a while it helps to keep going watching a film of this kind.
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A delightful three segment film for a rainy afternoon.
31 March 2014
This one is the third Argentinian old film --1955-- I've decided to watch on "You Tube". There are so many of them that having been lucky with the first two I decided to keep trying.

And this one, "El amor nunca muere" (Love Never Dies) wasn't a deception either. On the contrary! I truly enjoyed them!! (I say "them" because this film was made with three separate segments that at the time was a sort of new format for films. Each segment performed by a totally different cast with a DIVA as the protagonist.

I was surprised seeing the cast and finding that three divas were in the same film, something impossible at the time since which one will have the name at the top?

But then when I saw the end of the first one after 40 minutes and the beginning of a new episode following the destiny of the medallion as the link or excuse to change period and actors, I realized that everything made sense, because the three queens didn't have to work together competing for close ups and the spot light.

The two first episodes are practically fairy tales, since they stretch reality and circumstances to a snapping point. The first segment takes place in the 18th Century, were the medallion belongs to a very famous actress of that time (Zully Moreno), the second episode happens during the 19th Century, when a lady buys it at a pawn shop (Mirtha Legrand as protagonist) and the third one in the fifties, when they made this movie, the recipient (Tita Merello) getting it as a souvenir from her absent husband through a visiting acquaintance in charge of the errand - -a husband gone from her life 18 years ago, never seen again and now dead.

This third episode is a genuine tear-jerker, highly sentimental and only lacking tremulous violin strings in the background.

Outrageous kitsch without complex, I loved them all.

I believe that to enjoy this movie one has to be Argentinian (Latin American?) since the three episodes are totally impregnated with intense, almost asphyxiating tenderness (better call it Gooyness), as much as a Mexican soap-opera couldn't have been produced in any other country in the whole world (well, in Argentina maybe). And better yet, it really helps if those actors are familiar faces to the viewer.

I must be brave and confess that the last one, with Tita Merello as the apparently rough old truck-driver and self-sacrificing mother of a brand new doctor that will marry a society girl... (corny, right?) made me cry, but cry in the Boo-hoo manner (I don't care what you think, I loved it!!!). Tita was an incredible actress and this character, I'm sure, was custom-made to her acting range since it fitted her as a glove fits a hand.

If you don't care for this sort of rosy dreamland fantasies, please, don't even attempt to watch this movie, but if you feel comfortable in fairyland... go ahead, enjoy these excellent samples of escapism... have a handy pack of Kleenex near by (on your lap preferably).
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Three Sixty Year Old Rats.
29 March 2014
After watching another old Argentinian film, "La serpiente de cascabel" (The Rattlesnake)--1946, and having liked it quite a lot, I was intrigued by this film's title, "The Three Rats"--1946, especially because the Three Rats were three excellent actresses from that time and at least I could see good acting, even if the movie wasn't too good.

But this movie is excellent!

The story is taken (and modified quite a lot) according to some critics, from an Ecuadorian writer, but since I never read his novel, I have no way to compare book and film, although I always thought that it is a grave mistake to compare them since both genres are totally opposed making it impossible to follow cinematographically a book word by word.

As with practically all Argentinian productions, I'm always overwhelmed by a very special quality they have, it consists of a very warm and human feeling, the kind one observes in the Italian cinema too. It feels as if a cozy blanket envelopes our minds and although on writing it may sound ridiculous, that's the way I feel when watching an Argentinian movie.

I saw the restored version on "You Tube" and found this 60 year old film quite impressive from all points of view: The acting was superb, the direction quite subtle and to the point, the sets excellent and the music well placed. The story, quite absorbent, follows the lives of three very different sisters that after becoming orphans have to deal with the raw realities of life, generally hard and merciless with practically everybody.

And each sister deals with it the best way she knows how to, accepting stoically the consequences, good or bad as they could be. Being poor doesn't give one many options in life, and poor people cannot afford to have stringent moral standards. Very good movie where we see a world with customs that by now are gone with the wind, as could be decency, straightforwardness, loyalty, solid principles. If you have a couple of hours and nothing to do, watch this movie, it teaches a good couple of things worth knowing. and lifts one's spirits with a fresh, nice reconciling feeling with life.
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"The Rattlesnake", a 60 year old comedy, but still enjoyable.
29 March 2014
I just saw this film for the sake of it, since being a film from the 40s I may have been in the mood for some nostalgia trip, masochism or whatever. And "You Tube" can be blamed for that since it seems one can find EVERYTHING and ANYTHING in it.

I was pleasantly surprised though, watching a very frivolous comedy, with a dynamic and fast tempo and very good actors, from delightful Maria Duval (incredible Deanna Durbin's doppelganger), to melodic (very good crooner and excellent actor) Juan Carlos Thorry, and the Rossy de Palma of those days, Maria Santos (a scream in almost all her scenes and a scene--stealer too).

There is a homicide committed in the Agatha Christie vein --an upper class private school with the classic trio of severe women chaperon, president and vice president of this VERY moral and respectable institution for young ladies with and incredibly quaint collective dormitory and a handful of pretty starlets playing adolescent virgins...(?!) many of them who, unknown extras at the time, eventually had an excellent artistic trajectory: Analía Gadé, Beba Bidart, Ma. Aurelia Bisutti, Susana Campos and the ballet dancer Alfredo Alaria.

Thorry, the disguised policeman pretending to be a music teacher, must find out who did it. Very lightly treated subject, since it is a frothy comedy. A comedy of errors follows where practically everybody is suspected to be the assassin till the truly unexpected end.

The movie fails in many issues related to any 60 year old film, like in any old Hollywood production, where we find even shocking some goings on that at the time I assume people found absolutely normal in every day life situation, but that for today morals they look pretty prudish and passé (women's liberation seems to have been totally unknown then).

Pleasant enough thanks to the well choreographed ballet numbers in the dream sequences, the lightness of it all, and some very funny scenes in a totally scatterbrained production. Nothing to write home about, but all in all, still enjoyable.
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The Juror (1996)
Quite impressive
28 August 2013
Reading most of the previous reviews made me wonder... This movie is a thriller from the word go and total escapism, yet, many reviewers pretend a perfect script, a flawless sequence of events --life like-- without realizing that this is not a documentary, with dates, statistics and absolutely realistic situations.


Seat back and enjoy it!! there isn't more than that!!

We are not watching an Ingmar Bergman or Antonioni film here. It's just a thriller, and as such, an EXCELLENT ONE!!

I followed it in total concentration, being captivated by such superb actors and director and finding all scenes and sequences amazingly perfect.

There is not a single word spoken unnecessarily and every one is always in character, plus a great photography and as eye candy Demi Moore and Alec Baldwin, two superb actors on top of being gorgeous.

I found this movie above average for a thriller, surprisingly above average!!
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I don't remember this movie at all
26 August 2013
Really. I know that I saw it because I wrote two or three reviews of it back when, and all of them had been deleted, why, I will never know.

Although I would like to, because I still want to believe in "The freedom of expression", loudly touted but seldom applied.

I didn't used bad words, forbidden expressions or insulting ones, so, the only reason for deleting my reviews must have been:

A) The director of this awful movie felt I was very wrong in my appreciations.

B) Some outraged viewer directly related to the director felt I was hurting his feelings with an unjust critic.

C) The director parents felt also my critic as unjustly punishing and inconvenient for the director's career.

I won't write a FOURTH review, that's for sure, since this bad movie is not even worth of just ONE review, I'm just writing this lines feeling affronted by a censorship that allows so easily to remove a negative review from being published, that's all.

Thank you anyway for publishing these lines.
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