SLM Cutura Article – Cantiflas

Cantinflas is the untold story of Mexico’s greatest and most beloved comedy film star of all time!

I witnessed one of the most anticipated Hispanic films of the summer “CANTINFLAS”. Directed by Sebastián del Amostaring, staring Oscar Jaenada as “Cantiflas”, Michael Imperioli, Ilse Salas. A pleasant feeling of Mexican pride swelled in the movie theater. Cantinflas is the untold story of Mexico’s greatest and most beloved comedy film star of all time. From his humble origins on the small stage to the bright lights of Hollywood, Cantinflas became famous around the world – one joke at a time.

The movie starts, and parallels, with 2 great stories! The first is the rags to riches history of Cantinflas. The second is the escalating pressure making the popular USA movie “Around the world in 80 days”. As Cantinflas struggles in his early days, the American movie also experiences obstacles signing on the world’s best actors, for free. Its brash and confident director thinks Cantinflas will do the same. The struggling Cantinflas finds work cleaning in traveling tents, a popular way of entertainment for the before 1930’s era. His curiosity finds him on stage doing various acts, but gets booed. The breakthrough arrives as he is ‘heckled’ by an audience member because of Cantinflas’ poor performance, and ragged-torn clothing. Cantinflas nervously fires back with insulting, but very funny jokes. The audience loves it and calls him “Cantina Fly” (bar fly) or Cantinflas, his era begins. The portrayal of Cantinflas by Spanish actor Oscar Jaenada is almost dead on perfect. He portrays his comedic maneurisms brilliantly. The unique Mexican accent, rapid-fire linguisms, and Cantinflas’ body movements were imitated so well, it’s eerie. I also love the film’s effort for authenticity. The film is shot in Spanish, and shown with English subtitles. In addition, perfect period-clothing, city settings and its characters add a beautiful layer to the film.

Here’s some things to know about Cantiflas. He started acting in traveling tents, but failed as a boxer in Mexico City. He married a Russian woman and made 34 films. He starred in the popular American movie “Around the world in 80 days”. Mario Morelos won best actor in that film, beating Marlon Brandon and other stars. He was known as the world’s best comedian; Charlie Chaplin even acknowledged him. He fought old-time corrpution in the actor’s union. By representing the voice of the actors, he forged a new side. Mario Fortino Alfonso Moreno Reyes, known more casually as simply Mario Moreno, and known professionally as Cantinflas (August 12, 1911 – April 20, 1993), was a Mexican comic film actor, producer, and screenwriter. He often portrayed impoverished campesinos or a peasant of pelado origin. The character came to be associated with the national identity of Mexico, and allowed Cantinflas to establish a long, successful film career that included a foray into Hollywood Charlie Chaplin once commented that he was the best comedian alive, and Moreno has been referred to as the “Charlie Chaplin of Mexico”. To audiences in the United States, he is best remembered as co-starring with David Niven in a Golden Globe Award-winning role in the 1956 film “Around The World In 80 Days”. As a pioneer of the Cinema of Mexico, Moreno helped usher in its golden era. In addition to being a business leader, he also became involved in Mexico’s tangled and often dangerous labor politics. Although he was a political conservative, his reputation as a spokesperson for the downtrodden gave his actions authenticity and became important in the early struggle against charrismo, the one party government’s practice of co-opting and controlling Unions.

Text: Pauly Cardenas

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