Saturday, November 25, 2006

La Epoca de Oro

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m driving back to Phoenix from California, where we spent the holiday with my in-laws. I wanted to share a few thoughts and memories about some videos I recently found on You Tube.

The Million Dollar Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles.

I grew up watching movies from the golden age of Mexican cinema (La Epoca de Oro), peppered with a few Spanish and Argentinian films. Even though my family wasn’t rich, my parents were big movie fans and we went to the cinema on a regular basis. They knew the theatre schedules for noches de dos por uno (two for one night) and we made the rounds between the Million Dollar, the Alameda, the Monterrey, the California and the Unique (my parents pronounced it “eunuch”). My mother and I would go as one pair and my father would stand outside the theatre until he found another solo moviegoer, then he would offer to split the cost of a ticket to save as much as possible. Once inside, it seemed that my mother’s purse would transform into Felix The Cat’s bottomless bag of tricks as she would produce cans of soda, refried bean sandwiches and/or burritos, Fritos and chewy, by-the-pound bin candy. Occasionally, we would splurge on the variedades movie show at the Million Dollar where, for the price of admission you would get two movies, a cartoon plus a variety show between movies which might feature jugglers, magicians, comedians, dancers, puppeteers…I guess you would call it vaudeville. Vendors would come up and down the aisles, selling ice cream and candy.

Pedro Armendariz and Dolores del Rio in Las Abandonadas.

When the house lights went down, I was in the company of the likes of Pedro Infante, Libertad Lamarque, Jorge Negrete, Silvia Pinal, Sarita Montiel, Pedro Armendariz, to name just a few of the greats of Spanish language cinema. I realize now that I’m much more familiar with the great actors and actresses of the Mexican/Spanish cinema than I am with American cinema. I didn’t become familiar with Spencer Tracy or Katherine Hepburn until I was an adult, so I have enjoyed catching up on my film history with Turner Classic Network.

Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of telling you that I found some videos on You Tube which took me back to my childhood. If you don’t speak Spanish, you’ll be missing part of the fun of these clips but they’re worth checking out anyway. Not all of these clips are from the Golden Age and most of the movies from that age were not musicals, but I've chosen clips with songs because music is a universal language. You’ll notice some are a little more modern, but they are also from my childhood and among my favorites, so I’ve included them.

Love from the Flying J!

If you can't see the flash object below, please click on this link to check out "Mis Favoritas."


Jenny Lens said...

Love the new look of your blog. Oh Pedro Armendariz but Arturo De Cordova and Gilbert Roland in Hollywood flicks . . . yummy! I know Spencer Tracy and my all-time fave, Anthony Quinn -- now that was a MAN . . . gimme Latin lovers any days. Oh la la!

Will never outgrow my passion for men south of the border . . . if I only studied Spanish instead of two years of French in high school . . . what I've missed!

My mother got her hair done on Reseda near Sherman Way where students did the hair. She'd drop my brother and I off at Reseda Theatre. Oh those were the days of fun afternoons! Ohmygawd, my heart is racing just thinking about these gorgeous Lationo hunks of mankind . . . sigh . . . reminds me of my punk nights, after the shows and my Mexican male neighbors knocked upon my door . . .

Anonymous said...

Hey Alice,

Thanks for these great clips of the spanish/mexican cinema!..Great,makes me want to see some of the fun length features..are you familiar with "the Thin Man" series? ,..If not,I highly recommend those..they are fun!

Happy Holidays


jenny lens said...

Darn it, I made spelling/grammar errors, the worse being LATINO not Lationo . . . doing too many things too quickly these days.

I think it's funny Ricardo Cortez was the movie name for a Jewish New Yorker in the early days of Warner Brothers talkies. His brother, an early cinematographer, adopted the same surname and became Stanley Cortez.

It was OK to have a Latin name -- the most famous early silent movie heart-throb was Italian-born Rudolph(o) Valentino and followed by Mexican-born Ramon Novarro (whose accent hurt him in talkies, but not Gilbert Roland's). They opened the door for Latin Lovers. "Ricardo Cortez" was acceptable but not a Jewish surname for a star til Dustin Hoffman, and of course he was never a sex symbol.

As for the "Thin Man" series (their first is the best), almost ANY William Powell or Myrna Loy film is a treat! I love "Jewel Robbery" with Powell and Kay Francis, one of my fave actresses. For a tear-jerket with comedic touches, catch Kay and Powell in "One Way Passage."

Another delightfully ADULT film w/Kay, Miriam Hopkins and Herbert Marshall, directed by the incomparable Ernst Lubitsch is "Trouble in Paradise."

Those movies are sophisticated comedies that slid under the censors' eyes and just as enjoyable today as when made more than 70 years ago.

Great art and entertainment is timeless.

Don't get me started on old Hollywood stars . . . that's what led me to take photos. I love watching old films and studied old movie stills for years (have read a ton of movie history books too). I never looked at rock mags nor photos, just old movies.

These movies and more are on Turner Classic Movies, the BEST TV station in the world!!

Anonymous said...

What A treat! Where can one rent these movies? I'd love to see a list of must-see movies from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Not sure where you can rent them, you'd probably have to go to a Spanish language video store. But some of the classics are available on DVD with subtitles. Ignore the little stereotype mouse character...this is not my page!
eBay My World: mexicanmovies

posterazzi said...

CATALOG---130 LISTS & 5,000 JPGS: