From July 6 through September 30, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, presents The Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, a film series complementing the exhibition Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910–1950. Fourteen films, released between 1940 and 1959, highlight Mexico’s film industry and include award-winning films The Palm of Your Hand and The Pearl.
You’re Missing the Point (Ahí está detalle)
(Directed by Juan Bustillo Oro, Mexico, 1940, 112 min.)
Thursday, July 6, Friday, August 25, and Thursday, September 21, at 2 p.m.
Cantinflas (Mario Moreno), the boyfriend of a servant, sneaks into her boss’ home in order to kill a mad dog. Mexico’s answer to Charlie Chaplin, Cantinflas uses circuitous speech and mind games to intellectually exhaust his enemies and unmask a disturbingly corrupt system.
Another Dawn (Distinto Amanecer)
(Directed by Julio Bracho, Mexico, 1943, 108 min.)
Friday, July 7, and Thursday, August 17, at 2 p.m.
A dizzying journey into Mexico City’s nightlife. The idealistic Octavio (Pedro Armendáriz) is sucked into a vortex of trouble. He flees a corrupt governor and finds refuge in a cinema. Once there, he is reunited with his former lover (Andrea Palma), who must choose passion over duty if she elects to save him.
A Woman in Love (Enamorada)
(Directed by Emilio Indio Fernández, Mexico, 1946, 99 min.)
Saturday, July 8, and Friday, August 18, at 2 p.m.
This film strives to portray an authentic Mexican identity, using the revolutionary context to pose questions about the class conflict that divided the country in the early 20th century. During the Mexican Revolution, General José Juan Reyes (Pedro Armendáriz) occupies the city of Cholula. The rebellious officer yearns to take revenge on the city’s high society, until he becomes enamored with the wealthiest aristocrat’s independent daughter.
The Kneeling Goddess
(La diosa arrodillada)
(Directed by Roberto Gavaldón, Mexico, 1947, 104, in Spanish with English subtitles)
Sunday, July 9, August 19, and Thursday, September 28, at 2 p.m.
In this film, director Gavaldón reinvents the classic Hollywood melodrama. The film tells a story of destructive passion, lush with erotic desire and replete with mystery. Millionaire Antonio Ituarte (Arturo de Córdova) presents his wife with the eponymous statue as an anniversary gift, unaware that his own mistress (María Félix) had posed nude for the sculptor. Alarm sets in when his wife dies in mysterious circumstances.
(Directed by Emilio Fernández, Mexico, 1948, 95 min.)
Friday, July 14, and Thursday, September 7, at 2 p.m.
In this captivating melodrama, Marga López stars as a taxi dancer in Mexico City’s famous Salón México cabaret, selling her services in order to support her sister’s expensive education. This selfless mission is thwarted when she gets caught up in a dangerous love triangle with her violent pimp (Rodolfo Acosta) and a sympathetic police officer (Miguel Inclán).
(Directed by Gilberto Martínez Solares, Mexico, 1948, 101 min.)
Saturday, July 15, and Sunday, August 20, at 2 p.m.
This Hollywood-style musical comedy features an exquisite performance by Mexican comedian and movie star Tin-Tan, one of Mexican cinema’s most brilliant improvisers. In this film, Tin-Tan impersonates a Hollywood bigwig, producing a grand musical in order to seduce all the beautiful actresses.
A Family Like Many Others
(Una familia de tantas)
(Directed by Alejandro Galindo, Mexico, 1948, 130 min.)
Thursday, July 20, and Friday, September 22, at 2 p.m., and *Saturday, August 12, at 7 p.m.
This intelligent melodrama, widely considered a masterpiece, finds Fernando Soler (Rodrigo Cataño) ruling his household with draconian authority. The Solers’ conservative, middle-class life is shaken by the appearance of a young salesman (David Silva), who attracts the attention of the family’s teenage daughter. Fifteen-year-old Maru (Martha Roth) decides to fight her parents’ will and marry for love.
(El rebozo de Soledad)
(Directed by Roberto Gavaldón, Mexico, 1952, 114 min.)
Friday, July 21, and Saturday, August 26, at 2 p.m.
Dr. Alberto Robles (Arturo de Córdova), an idealistic city doctor, lends his services to help a small Mexican village. Once there, he falls in love with an Indian girl (Estela Inda) who has been spoken for (Pedro Armendáriz), and the doctor becomes involved in a feudal war among farmers and landowners.
The Palm of Your Hand
(En la palma de tu mano)
(Directed by Roberto Gavaldón, Mexico, 1950, 100 min.)
Sunday, July 23, and Sunday, September 24, at 2 p.m., and *Saturday, August 26, at 7 p.m.
When devious fortuneteller and scam artist “Professor” Karin (Arturo de Córdova) learns about the suspicious death of a wealthy man, he tries to blackmail the man’s young, beautiful widow (Leticia Palma) by accusing her of adultery. Karin’s deceit eventually ends in a darkly ironic twist. In the Palm of Your Hand was awarded 8 Ariel Awards by the Mexican Film Academy in 1952, including Best Picture and Best Director.
The Other Woman (La otra)
(Directed by Roberto Gavaldón, Mexico, 1946, 98 min.)
Friday, July 28, and Thursday, August 31, at 2 p.m.
Magdalena kills her wealthy twin sister and assumes her identity, unaware that her sibling’s life had been far from irreproachable. Dolores del Rio stars in the film, portraying both sisters. Influenced by American film noir, this intense criminal drama was later remade as Hollywood as Dead Ringer (1964), featuring Bette Davis as both female characters.
The Night Falls
(La noche avanza)
(Directed by Roberto Gavaldón, Mexico, 1951, 85 min.)
Saturday, July 29, and Friday, September 8, at 2 p.m. La Noche Avanza is a faithful portrayal of Mexico City’s corrupt underworld. Influenced by Hollywood film noir, the story follows talented jai alai player Marcos (Pedro Armendáriz), as he becomes a target of the gambling mafia and is blackmailed into losing a match. The womanizing Marcos takes advantage of his lovers to obtain money, but little does he know that one of them will cause his downfall.
(Directed by Emilio Indio Fernández, Mexico, 1945, 87 min.)
Thursday, August 3, Sunday, September 10, and Friday, September 29, at 2 p.m.
Quino (Pedro Armendáriz) is an indigenous fisherman whose life changes forever when he discovers a pearl at the bottom of the sea. In a cruel twist of fate, the valuable find turns out to be more of a curse than a godsend. The pearl inspires only greed and forces Quino and his family to flee a dangerous merchant (Fernando Wagner). The Pearl won the International Award for Best Cinematography at the Venice Film Festival in 1947, and a Golden Globe award for Best Cinematography in 1949.
(Directed by Roberto Gavaldón, Mexico, 1950, 90 min.)
Friday, August 4, and Thursday, September 14, at 2 p.m.
Pedro Armendáriz stars as the title character, who rules his town with iron-fisted authority. He is suspected murder, but nobody in the community dares to denounce him. When a government agent (Arturo Martínez) arrives to investigate the crime and questions authority, another chain of violent vengeance ensues. Rosauro Castro is a rarity; its negative was lost in a fire that destroyed the Mexican film archive in the 1980s.
(Directed by Roberto Gavaldón, Mexico, 1959, 90 min.)
Sunday, August 6, and Saturday, September 30, at 2 p.m., and *Saturday, August 19, at 7 p.m.
Impoverished laborer Macario (Ignacio López Tarso) starves in order to provide for his family, and dreams about eating a whole turkey on his own. One day, his dream seems to be coming true as his wife steals a turkey and Macario is excited to eat it by himself. When hungry God and the Devil ask for a piece of meat, he refuses. Macario only shares his meal with Death. Saving the starving Grim Reaper will result in unexpected consequences. Macario earned the first Academy Award nomination for a Mexican film in the foreign language film category and is a celebrated classic of Mexican cinema.