Saturday, March 03, 2012

Emilio Fernández: Víctimas del Pecado

Emilio Fernández, Víctimas del Pecado (1951): a movie that's got the depth, variety and fast pace of an action novella. Most of the story takes place in and around two diverse, integrated Cuban-themed nightclubs in Mexico City, the CHANGOO -- i.e. Changó, Yorùbá/Santería storm god -- home of gangsters and "higher class" clientele, and a more working class cabaret somewhere across the smoke-filled railroad tracks, La Máquina Loca/The Crazy Machine.

Within this crime and entertainment milieu, dandified gangster-pimp Rodolfo (Rodolfo Acosta) forces one of his workers to ditch her newborn child (probably his son), who is then taken in by another co-worker, Cuban dancer Violeta (Ninón Sevilla), causing all sorts of chaos. Eventually, Violeta and the baby are adopted by a kindlier pimp, Santiago (Tito Junco), who runs La Máquina Loca. There is a class difference from the CHANGOO: Santiago tells her not to address him as "Don Santiago," as "we are all the same here." Santiago will suffice.

Direct conflict between the two pimps drives some of the plot, but we are also regaled by syncopated musical numbers, a barroom brawl, gunplay, a prison sequence and, throughout much of it, Rodolfo's comical and volatile ego. "Leave my suit alone," he tells his baby mama early on. He also likes to say, "No pain, no gain," and in trying to coerce Violeta directly into his service, "Women are worth the men they are with." Another Rodolfo quip: "The only place you never leave is your grave." 

In a brief interlude early on, Pedro Vargas sings:
A sea dampened with sighs
Blood and laughter
Together in your eyes

We see a likeness of Emilio Fernández, the director of Víctimas del Pecado, every time the Academy Awards are shown: he was the physical model for the Academy Award of Merit -- the Oscar statuette.

Today's Rune: Partnership. 


pattinase (abbott) said...

Sorry I have nothing to contribute. Your depth in movie watching is astounding.

jodi said...

Erik, and so our mutual fascination with all things Cuba is assuaged for another day. Sounds very cool except for the way da wemman are valued!

Charles Gramlich said...

Hum, this sounds like something I would definitely like. Will have to have a look for it.