Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Beauty Break: Cinco De Mayo

Are you celebrating Mexico today?

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

I'm eating tacos for dinner because it's the least I can do. And I'm also perusing amazing photos of Mexican film stars of yore like the deliriously sexy Lupe Vélez and one star of the right now... Señor Bernal of course. Also deliriously sexy. Especially in closeups.

So I thought we'd drool on six of the earliest crossover sensations tonight with a few films of note (for one reason or another) for each of their careers. If you'd like to investigate further, click on the links. Enjoy!

Lupe Vélez The Gaucho, 1927 | Hot Pepper, 1933 | The Girl From Mexico, 1939
Ramon Novarro Scaramouche 1923 | Ben-Hur 1925 | The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, 1927
These silent stars had volatile lives and careers, both ending with tragic deaths. Vélez career was a series of ups and downs and some say she was bipolar. She had several movie star affairs (some say her relationship with Gary Cooper drove him to a nervous breakdown) and committed suicide in the 1940s while pregnant with a younger actor's child. Novarro's career was a more typical rise and fall but began to lose its heat after the success of Mata Hari (1931). He was killed by two brothers who had been invited to his home for sexual purposes but decided to rob him.

Gilbert Roland Camille, 1927 | The Sea Hawk, 1940 | The Gay Cavalier, 1946
Dolores del Rio
Ramona, 1928 | Bird of Paradise, 1932 | Maria Candellaria, 1943
Del Rio was Hollywood's first superstar Mexican actress, world reknowned for her beauty and though her career declined with the talkies, she became involved with Orson Welles and stayed a prominent Hollywood figure. Gilbert Roland was a romantic leading man and he was one of the rare silent stars who transferred with ease to talkies. The great voice helped. He was steadily employed as a screen actor from 1923 through 1982!!! That's quite a run.

Katy Jurado Nosotros Los Pobres, 1948 | High Noon, 1952 | Broken Lance, 1954
Anthony Quinn Viva Zapata, 1952 | La Strada, 1954 | Zorba The Greek, 1964

These last two were both "first!" in terms of Oscar recognition. Quinn is the only Mexican-born actor ever nominated (still) but he achieved that four times, even winning twice.

<--- Katy and Brando... a 1950s Hollywood moment

Katy was the first Mexican actress recognized by the Academy (for the western Broken Lance) trailblazing the way for Salma Hayek (Frida) and Adriana Barazza (Babel) in our time.

Do you have a favorite Mexican actor and film? I mean other than GGB and Y Tu Mama Tambien? That goes without saying!


Robert Hamer said...

Not allowed to name Gael García Bernal as our favorite Mexican actor?!? Fine, I'll just name-drop his Y tu mamá también BFF Diego Luna.

As for my favorite Mexican film...hmm, does The Exterminating Angel count?

Anonymous said...

I love Silvia Pinal in all her contributions with Luis Buñuel.


Agustin said...

i'm celebrating my bday!!!
but been all day shooting
and not even a real film..
just another ad...

moror said...

Well Maria Felix is considered Mexico's greatest actress and legends. I highly recommend reading about her.

She was such an interesting character. It is said Cecil B. DeMille was going to have her as a small character in one of his epics, but she "wasn't born to carry baskets."

The Dude said...

Just as a fun fact, Cinco de Mayo is actually not one of the biggest Mexican holidays. It's..."memorable" (for lack of a better word) but not exactly that many people celebrate it.

Marsha Mason said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marsha Mason said...

Ricardo Montalbán!!!!

"I will chase him 'round the moons of Nibia, and 'round the Antares maelstrom, and 'round Perdition's flames!!!"

So ridiculously over-the-top in just the right way, in a film with scenery just waiting to be chewed up. How many Star Trek actors don't quite get that! It has to be my personal fave (no excuses really) sci-fi performance of all time!!!!

Walter L. Hollmann said...

I had a thing for Lupita Tovar when I was a kid. She was most famous for doing Spanish-language version of Universal films, but she's also the grandmother of the Weitz Brothers!

Eddcort said...

Silvia Pinal in Viridiana

adam k. said...

"...especially in closeups."

Nat, is that some kind of backhanded swipe at his height? ; )

And Marsha Mason, I love Khan, but have you not seen Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner? Or Sigourney Weaver in Aliens? Or any of the leads on BSG, for that matter?

Favorite Star Trek movie performance, though? Yes. Without a doubt (though I do enjoy Alice Krige a lot in First Contact). Bonus points for how Montalban brings Shatner right up there over the top with him.

I have to say, though, my favorite Mexican film/performance is definitely GGB in YTMT.

Fernando Moss said...

Jason & Eddcort:


in everything... but yes especially in Buñuel's films.

are you familiar with her Nat?

Andre said...

A minor correction, Novarro's career zoomed up with the arrival of sound because of his fine singing voice. One of his biggest hits was "Mata Hari," with Greta Garbo (that was one of her biggest box-office hits as well).

But following that he was badly miscast in several films, and that pretty much did him in. And he wanted to be an opera singer, so it's hardly as if he was focused on his Hollywood career -- when he probably should have been.

As for Mexican actresses, what about the tragic Miroslava -- who wasn't *really* Mexican (born in Prague), but her film career sure was.

James T said...

That photo of Gilbert Roland was such a gift!

cal roth said...

I LOVE Silvia Pinal, not only in Buñuel's movies, but also in that delicious over-the-top and B 60's camp-noir extravaganza by Samuel Fuller, Shark!.

And yes, the best Mexican movies I know are Los Olvidados and The Exterminating Angel.

And you know that a Mexican actor was the guy who posed nude to Cedric Gibbons design the Oscar statuette? It's the great Emilio Fernandez, an actor-director American audiences should know as the villain in Sam Peckinpah's masterpiece Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

Volvagia said...

On the subject of "sci-fi acting", my personal winner is: DeNiro as Tuttle in Brazil. And, just to say, I've never understood why people think he's a great actor in Scorsese's films. If I was in charge of the Oscars, he'd definitely win 3 times ('74 Supporting Actor, '84 Lead Actor and '85 Supporting Actor.) And, understand, I work on a system where each consecutive Oscar is harder to win then the one before. So that he's secured for more than two is an absolute feat. (So, if I don't think Raging Bull was win worthy, what was? Probably O'Toole or Donald Sutherland on politics alone. Frankly, beyond the gimmick of weight gain, there wasn't much we hadn't seen before in Taxi Driver. O'Toole if nothing is fixed before 1980 and Sutherland if, say, previous history is changed and O'Toole gets it in '68. Cliff Robertson as the Best Actor of 1968? I think this choice reveals the Academy really wanted Keir Dullea to win, but the actors didn't think there was much acting in 2001 so more voted for this adaptation of Flowers for Algernon. And I do think good on the actors for acknowledging that acting isn't what makes 2001 great, but to acknowledge Charly over A Lion in Winter is absolutely bizarre, even on a wholly political level.)


Volvagia --- what is this system of which you speak?


and happy belated birthday agustin

Marsha Mason said...

Okay, I know my Marshness *shouldn't* say Montalban owns my fave sci-fi perf, when films like Aliens and Blade Runner are much better, but even the great performances in those films don't animate their films in the way that Khan owns his film.

Anonymous said...

I'm mexican, so I can think of a lot of actors and acresses that I like. Lets say Daniel Gimenez Cacho. He is the pedophile father in Bad education and the narrator in Y tu mama tambien. He has been great in everything that he does. He is the protagonist in the first film by Alfonso Cuaron, Solo con tu pareja. It's a comedy, and it's really great. There's this other film, El callejon de los milagros, where he plays Salma Hayeks pimp. Daniel is scary in that. In Arrancame la vida (Tear this heart out) He plays General Andres Ascencio. The best performance of the film.

Ángel Ramos said...

I'm Mexican. My favorite mexican film is the lovely "Maria Candelaria", I really love that film, also is one of my favorites films of all time.

Another great mexican films that i recomend:

Emilio "El Indio" Fernandez's La Perla
Isamel Rodriguez's Nosotors Los Pobres
Alejandro Galindo's Campeon sin Corona
and Jorge Fons's El Callejon de los Milagros (starring Salma Hayek and one of the greates films of the 90's, really)

Mirko said...

Arturo Ripstein is a mexican director I really admire...some of his movies (LA VIRGEN DE LA LUJURA, PRINCIPIO Y FIN, LA REINA DE LA NOCHE, PROFUNDO CARMESI) are really fine

and about mexican stars, I have had a thing for Salma Hayek who lasted for several years. I found her charming, sexy, brillant

she fought hard for making FRIDA and I was happy when she achieved her dream project, even if I wasn't a real fan of Julie Taymor's biopic. she also tried directing, winning a daytime emmy for THE MALDONADO MIRACLE (actually I've never watched it)

I know her roles haven't always been so interesting (the same problem with foreign thespians statesides) and her movies not so good, but I liked her quite a lot. I read she's got several projects on her pipeline...I hope we could find among them at least some new IN THE TIME OF BUTTERFLY instead some new WILD WILD WEST

Andrew R. said...

Maribel Verdu in Y Tu Mama Tambien. And even though it's from Spain, Pan's Labyrinth.

Anonymous said...

Maribel Verdu is a spaniard, sorry.