Novio a la vista (1954).

Let’s go to the beach and find a boyfriend! ¡Vamos a la playa para encontrarnos un novio!

This is the plot of the 1954 Spanish film Novio a la vista (Boyfriend in Sight), directed by Luis García Berlanga. Este es el argumento de la película española de 1954 Novio a la vista, dirigido por Luis García Berlanga. 

It’s Spain in 1918. Enrique (Jorge Vico) has no idea about history or geography. His family is making him prepare all summer long for the make-up exams in September. Loli (Josette Arno) is on holiday with her family. Her family has planned the holiday in Lindamar so she can find her a husband. Loli’s mother wants her to fall for the older engineer with money, but Loli, of course, meets Enrique and falls for him. Es España en el año 1918. Enrique (Jorge Vico) no tiene ni idea de historia ni geografía. Su familia está haciéndole preparar los examenes de recuperación en septiember durante todo el verano. Loli (Josette Arno) está de vacaciones con su familia. Su familia ha planificado las vacaciones en Lindamar para que pueda encontrar un marido. La madre de Loli quiere que se enamore del ingeniero mayor con dinero, pero desde luego, Loli conoce a Enrique y se enamora de él. 

While it is a commentary on Spanish norms, the film falls flat. It moves slowly, and I hate to admit that I was pretty bored by it. The actors seemed much older than 15 (though they were in their late teens), and I found it hard to enter their world. It isn’t one of Berlanga’s most well-known or received films, especially to come right after Bienvenido Mister MarshallAunque sea un comentario de los costumbres españoles del tiempo, la película no es una de las mejores de Berlanga. Es lenta, y me da vergüenza decirlo, pero me aburró bastante. Los actores parecían más mayores que 15 años (aunque eran en los últimos años de adolescencia. Me resultaba difícil entrar su mundo. No es una de las mejores conocidas de Berlanga, ni recibió buenas criticas, especialmente para venir después de Bienvenido Mister Marshall.

It was filmed at the Hotel Voramar in Benicàssim, Castellón (Comunitat Valenciana). It’s based on a story by Edgar Neville, who wrote the script with Berlanga, Juan Antonio Bardem and José Luis Colina. Fue rodada en el Hotel Voramar en Benicàssim, Castellón (Comunitat Valenciana). La base de la historia es de una idea de Edgar Neville, quien escribió en guión con Berlanga, Juan Antonio Bardem y José Luis Colina. 

Rating: C

Esa pareja feliz (1951).

Luis García Berlanga and J.A. Bardem started out their career with the 1951 film (but not released until 1953) That Happy Couple. While made in the 1950s, the critiques it makes about Spanish society could still be made today in 2018. Luis García Berlanga y J.A. Bardem empezó sus carreras con la película española de 1951 (pero no había estreno hasta 1953) Esa pareja feliz. Aunque hecha en los años 1950, las criticas que hace sobre la sociedad española todavía tienen importancia hoy en día en 2018.

Juan (Fernando Fernán Gómez) and Carmen (Elvira Quintillá) are a struggling couple in Madrid, renting a room in a flat where they’re lucky to have a right to the kitchen. Juan works as a handyman for film studios, and Carmen’s a desperate housewife. When she enters a contest sponsored by their favourite brand of soap the same day Juan gets fired, their world changes when they actually win. Now they’re the “Happy Couple” and are treated to 24 hours of luxury. How will it affect them? Juan (Fernando Fernán Gómez) y Carmen (Elvira Quintillá) son una pareja madrileña con muchos problemas y pocos recursos. Alquilan una habitación en un piso donde tienen suerte porque tienen derecho a la cocina. Juan trabaja como de mantenimiento para un estudio de películas, y Carmen es una ama de casa desesperada. Cuando entra un concurso de su marca de jabón preferida el mismo día que despiden a Juan, su mundo giro por completo cuando ganan. Ahora son la “Pareja Feliz” y tienen 24 horas de lujo. ¿Cómo les va a afectuar? 

The film is a satire of 1950s values, of having to keep up appearances and of consumerism. If only they could see the 1980s, eh? It was interesting to see what got past the 1950s censors. I think the co-directors and co-scriptwriters were a bit ahead of their times. La película es una satira de los valores de los años 1950, de tener que parecer perfecto y de consumismo. Y ni han visto los años 1980s. Era interesante ver lo que era apropado por la censura de los años 1950s. Creo que los directores y guionistas eran precoces de su época. 

The film shows a lot of promise, especially for such novice directors. They also have a satire of the film industry in general with hysterical scenes of Juan at work. La película promete mucho, especialmente como eran directores novatos. También hay una sátira de la industria de cine en general con escenas graciosas del trabajo de Juan. 

I’m just getting started with the project, so I’m sure future entries will be more detailed. I’m a bit rusty, and I feel bad that I don’t have more to say. It’s meta before meta was a thing. The film deserves a better restoration though. It’s worth seeing just to see how the more things change…..Estoy empezando con el proyecto, y seguro que las entradas que viene serán mejor. Estoy un poco rancio, y me sabe mal que no tengo más de decir en la primera entrada. La película fue “meta” antes de “meta” era popular. Creo que merece una mejor restauración. Vale la pena verla solo para ver que lo más las cosas cambian….

Rating: B+

 

Spanish Director Spotlight: Juan Antonio Bardem

The Spanish have a tendency to badmouth their own cinema, but they have so many stellar classics among their bad movies that they overlook. They only see the big budget action flicks and the Oscar movies from the States and are envious of the Hollywood films. They forget about the horrid movies that bomb every week from the US. Spanish Cinema may not be as famous as French or Italian cinema, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Quite the contrary.

Originally I was going to write about two classic Spanish films this week. Little did I know they had something in common: Juan Antonio Bardem. He was the screenwriter for Bienvenido Mister Marshall! (1953) and directed Calle Mayor (1956).

Juan Antonio Bardem (sometimes credited as J.A. Bardem) was born in Madrid in 1922 and died in 2002. The uncle of Javier Bardem was very critical of the Franco regime and was arrested while filming Calle Mayor in Palencia for his communist views and criticism of Franco. He was later released on the condition that he would not talk about his views during interviews. He also directed La Venganza (Vengeance) and Muerte de una ciclista (Death of a Cyclist), which I still have yet to see.

When finding out I come from the United States, many Spaniards mention Bienvenido Mister Marshall. The small village of Villar del Río is waiting for help from the United States Marshall Plan after the Spanish Civil War and World War II. The town goes out of their way to promote themselves as the best representative of Spain (also mocking how Spain was promoting the Andalusian stereotype of flamenco dancers and matadores as all of Spain at the time). They keep waiting…and waiting…for their rescue (a metaphor of Spain waiting for rescue from Franco’s regime?) . The film is a brilliant critique of Spain (that passed the censors!) and the United States at the same time without being offensive to either.

Calle Mayor is a bit different but still holds up as a classic of Spanish cinema. Two friends are in any pueblo (town/village) in the provinces of Spain (filmed in Palencia, Cuenca and Logroño) where the only thing to do is walk along the Calle Mayor (Main Street) in the evening. They come across Isabel, a “spinster” (at 35? Whatever! Times have changed) who doesn’t believe she’ll ever get married. They decide to play a trick on her and convince her that Juan is in love with her and wants to marry her. You bastard! The film is a social commentary and captures life in the small towns of Spain during the early Franco regime perfectly.

These two classic films offer a bit more insight into Spain’s past, and Juan Antonio Bardem deserves more credit. I’m excited to explore the world of his films…however, it’ll have to wait as I already have plans to delve into the world of another director first…