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Film at Lincoln Center and the Locarno Film Festival announce “Spectacle Every Day: Mexican Popular Cinema,” a sweeping retrospective of Mexican cinema from the 1940s through the 1960s, to be presented at FLC from July 26 through August 8. With new restorations of many works rarely screened or some never before seen theatrically in the United States, and standout performances from the biggest screen stars of their day, this series offers New York audiences the rare opportunity to experience the breadth of this unique period of Mexican film history on the big screen.

Tickets on sale now!

The 1940s through the 1960s was a period of exceptional creativity in Mexico that ushered in a monumentally prolific era of major filmmakers (among them, Roberto Gavaldón, Emilio Fernández, Julio Bracho, Alejandro Galindo, and Chano Urueta) and screen titans (María Félix, Fernando Soler, Cantinflas, Tin Tan, Ninón Sevilla, El Santo, Pedro Infante, Rebeca Iturbide, David Silva, and more). This series goes well below the surface of the era’s most well-known works to show its vast wealth of innovative filmmaking, and spotlights the rich, at times undersung, but always fascinating period and the exceptionally diverse body of films that enthralled generations of moviegoers and artists alike. From pitch-black noir, delightful comedy, and lurid melodrama—sometimes all in one film—to a 3-D swashbuckler, luchador-vampire horror, and a superhero film, these exquisite tales interpreted and radically influenced popular culture through sweeping productions that take us to grandiose wrestling rings, frenetic cabarets and nightclubs, exquisite haciendas, restless cities, and everywhere in between. 

Highlights include seminal works from the era’s most esteemed directors such as Julio Bracho’s Take Me in Your Arms (1954), newly restored in 4K, and Emilio Fernández’s magisterial Pueblerina (1949)—both exquisitely lensed by Gabriel Figueroa—as well as multiple features by Alejandro Galindo (Corner Stop! [1948], Wetbacks [1955], The Mind and the Crime [1961]) and Roberto Gavaldón (The Night Falls [1952], Autumn Days [1963]); the sex work melodrama Streetwalker (1951) from Matilde Landeta, one of the country’s first female directors; and the first 3-D film produced in Mexico, The Sword of Granada (1953).

The series also spotlights the many genres and unforgettable screen stars popular across these three decades: beloved comedies starring cultural icons Cantinflas and Tin Tan (The Unknown Policeman [1941]), The King of the Neighborhood [1949]), as well as the comedia ranchera The Three Garcías (1947), the first major work from director Ismael Rodríguez and star Pedro Infante; espionage melodrama (May God Forgive Me [1948], starring Maria Félix) and musical-inflected noir (El Suavecito [1951]); the bloody pueblo-western The River and Death (1954) from Luis Buñuel; atmospheric gothic horror (The Witch’s Mirror [1962]) and macabre comedies (The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales [1960]), luche libre superhero films (Santo vs. the Vampire Women [1962] and The Batwoman [1968], screening in a new 4K restoration), and so much more.

“Spectacle Every Day: Mexican Popular Cinema” is sponsored by MUBI, the global streaming service, production company and film distributor dedicated to elevating great cinema.

This series is made possible by the generous support of Almudena and Pablo Legorreta. 

Organized by Tyler Wilson and Cecilia Barrionuevo in partnership with the Locarno Film Festival and with support from Cinema Tropical. This program was selected from the retrospective curated by Olaf Möller and Roberto Turigliatto at the 2023 Locarno Film Festival. 

Acknowledgements:
Alameda Films; Asociación Cultural Matilde Landeta; Carlos Gutiérrez; Carlos Vasallo; Claro Video; Ernesto Marcelo Sánchez Fernández; La Cineteca Nacional; Filmoteca UNAM; Fundación Televisa; Janus Films; Marcela Fernández Violante; Nuevo Cinema Latino; Lucio Ortigosa, Athos Overseas Limited Corp; Permanencia Voluntaria and Cinema Preservation Alliance; Robert Furmanek, 3-D Film Archive; S. Rodriguez; TV Azteca; Sofia Bordenave; Sony Pictures Entertainment. Translations by Samuel Didonato and Natalia Hernández Moreno, Cinema Tropical. 

Tickets will go on sale on Tuesday, July 2 at 2pm, with an early access period for FLC Members starting Tuesday, July 2 at noon. Tickets are $17; $14 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $12 for FLC Members. See more and save with a 3+ Film Package ($15 for GP; $12 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $10 for FLC Members).

FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
All films will screen at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th Street). 

The Unknown Policeman / El gedarme desconocido
Miguel Melitón Delgado, 1941, Mexico, 108m
Spanish with English subtitles

The Unknown Policeman. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

“Despite the fact that I have directed more than 102 films in which Cantinflas does not appear, people still identify me as his director; all the films I made with him were made with direct sound, because due to his peculiar way of speaking, it was practically impossible for Mario Moreno to do dubbing.” –Miguel M. Delgado 
The classic “grotesque farce” that launched a widely adored 33-film collaboration between the legendary Cantinflas (Mario Moreno) and director Miguel Melitón Delgado, The Unknown Policeman is a marvelously joke-a-minute comedy about mistaken identity. It stars the iconic comic as Chato, a poor chap who, desperate for his wife and mother-in-law’s approval, gets into a scuffle with a gang of thieves and emerges as the heroic Agent 777—a master of disguise and the actor’s most beloved, oft-revisited creation. Hailed by Chaplin himself as the world’s greatest comedian, Cantinflas—with his own ragamuffin tiny mustache, grubby vest, and a rope for a belt—was something like the Tramp by way of Abbott & Costello… and something else entirely new: a virtuosic subversive who used his physicality, acerbic wit, and hilarious gift of gab to satirize everyone from the police to politicians to social elites. 
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection.
Saturday, July 27 at 3:30pm
Thursday, August 8 at 8:30pm

Amok
Antonio Momplet, 1944, Mexico, 106m
Spanish with English subtitles

Amok. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

Amok? I think it’s about… a kind of drunkenness among the Malays. It is more than a drunkenness… it is a madness, a kind of human rage… an attack of homicidal, senseless monomania, which cannot be compared to any alcoholic intoxication…” –Stefan Zweig
Directed by Antonio Momplet and starring Julián Soler and the ever-stunning Maria Félix (pulling double duty as a blonde and a brunette, by turns sensual and powerful), Amok is a feat of production design and a pictorially ravishing literary adaptation of love, madness, and death during World War II. It follows an alcoholic doctor (Soler) who flees to India after losing his fortune pleasing his insatiable lover. While abroad, he catches sight of another woman, who looks disturbingly similar to his old flame. The Spanish-born Momplet (who escaped the Civil War and fled to Argentina before settling in Mexico) brought Stefan Zweig’s eponymous novella to the big screen on a scale hitherto unseen in Mexican cinema, which involved tediously recreating a transatlantic ship, a Monte Carlo casino, palaces, and tropical jungles. 
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection. Televisa, S. de R.L. de C.V. All Rights Reserved. We appreciate the support of Fundación Televisa.
Tuesday, July 30 at 8:15pm
Sunday, August 4 at 3:30pm

The Three Garcías / Los tres García
Ismael Rodríguez, 1947, Mexico, 118m
Spanish with English subtitles

The Three Garcias. Courtesy of Claro Video

A seminal masterpiece of the comedia ranchera—a cowboy comedy distinctive for its musical sequences and ranch setting—The Three Garcías follows Luis Antonio (iconic singer Pedro Infante), José Luis (Abel Salazar), and Luis Manuel (Víctor Manuel Mendoza) as a trio of quarrelsome cousins who have grown up under the care of their strict Doña Luisa García (Sara García, aka “Mexico’s Grandmother”). Chaos mounts with the arrival of their fourth cousin, the beautiful American Lupita Smith (Marga López), who provokes an insane and crazy competition among the three men. Director Ismael Rodríguez, who lived in Los Angeles acting in experimental films before returning to Mexico in 1942, crafted one of the country’s most beloved works with this effortless depiction of the values and fears of Mexico’s rural side. The film was such a box-office success that the cast reprised their roles for the sequel, The Return of García, made that same year.
Courtesy of UNAM Film Archive Collection.  
Saturday, July 27 at 1:00pm
Friday, August 2 at 3:45pm

Corner Stop! / ¡Esquina, bajan…!
Alejandro Galindo, 1948, Mexico, 115m
Spanish with English subtitles

Corner Stop! Courtesy of Claro Video

This musical-inflected pro-labor union comedy from Alejandro Galindo—a pioneering chronicler of the travails of workaday Mexicans—charts the chaos that erupts when a bus driver (David Silva, Wetbacks) and his ticket-ripping coworker (Fernando Soto “Mantequilla,” one of the era’s most recognizable supporting comic actors) are suspended after deviating from their route for the lovely Cholita (Olga Jiménez) and subsequently caught in the crossfire of two rival transportation companies. Corner Stop! is as much a finely detailed, lovingly drawn snapshot of a rapidly growing Mexico City and the broad-toned jargon of its new urban proletariat as it is an incendiary critique of urban sprawl, workers’ rights, and the universal pains of customer service. Look out for an appearance by Marco Antonio Campos “Viruta” in his first film credit. 
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection.
Tuesday, July 30 at 3:45pm
Saturday, August 3 at 3:30pm  

May God Forgive Me / Que Dios me perdone
Tito Davison, 1948, Mexico, 97m
Spanish with English subtitles

May God Forgive Me. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

An actor’s director who excelled in melodramatic terrain, Chilean-born filmmaker Tito Davison made more than 60 films, many of them in Mexico, and was known in Hollywood for the anti–counter culture cult movie The Big Cube. Based on a story by the poet Xavier Villaurrutia and infused with the spirit of Casablanca and Notorious, his second feature—meant to rehabilitate the iconic María Félix’s career—is this moody World War II-era espionage-thriller that unfolds in a Mexico City teeming with con artists, double agents, and European expats with a secret or two. Félix (who can also be seen in Amok) stars as Lena, a beautiful and mysteriously sinister refugee haunted by her past and chased into the arms of a rich, unsuspecting industrialist (Fernando Soler)… not for love, but for information. May God Forgive Me transforms its woman-in-trouble mystery of double-crossings, love triangles, and murder into a disillusioned reflection on the sweeping consequences of war and dictatorships, marked by a rare degree of sympathy for its femme fatale protagonist. 
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection. Special thanks to Mr. Carlos Vasallo.
Sunday, July 28 at 6:00pm
Thursday, August 8 at 4:00pm

The King of the Neighborhood / El rey del barrio
Gilberto Martínez Solares, 1949, Mexico, 100m
Spanish with English subtitles

The King of the Neighborhood. Courtesy of Cineteca Nacional

Tin Tan (Germán Valdés) and Gilberto Martínez Solares were a renowned cinematic duo, and The King of the Neighborhood is among their most celebrated collaborations: a delightfully charming comedy, as Martínez Solares himself described it, “about a good man who wants to be bad.” Something like Robin Hood filtered through The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Tin Tan is as much a railroad engineer who single-handedly cares for his son as he is a con artist who specializes in robbing rich ladies and redistributing their wealth to his like-minded swindler friends and protected neighbors, one of whom is Carmelita (Silvia Pinal, star of Viridiana, The Exterminating Angel, and Simon of the Desert). But his grift turns complicated when an outlandish bachelorette (fellow iconic comedian Vitola) wants to marry him. An icon of Mexican-American border culture, typified by his heavy usage of Spanglish and bad-mannered pachuco style, Tin Tan melded the picaresque with his inimitable physical humor to become one of the most beloved comedians of his time. 
Restored by the Laboratorio de Restauración Digital de la Cineteca Nacional.
Friday, July 26 at 8:30pm
Monday, August 5 at 6:00pm

The Great Champion / El gran campeón
Chano Urueta, 1949, Mexico, 103m
Spanish with English subtitles

The Great Champion. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

One of the most prolific and venturesome directors in Mexican cinema (and occasional Sam Peckinpah actor), Chano Urueta (The Witch’s Mirror) worked in nearly every genre across a body of work spanning 115 films, and this 1949 feature is among his most singular. Part biographical documentary, part pulpy boxing film, The Great Champion marvels at the life and unparalleled stamina of Luis Villanueva “Kid Azteca” (also known as Kid D.F., Kid México, or Kid Moctezuma), played by the longstanding welterweight champion himself. Exulting in on-location footage of Mexico City’s Tepito neighborhood and in-the-ring boxing matches, shaded with a dark noir undercurrent for extra audience appeal, Urueta delivers a grandly entertaining genre picture around Villanueva’s rise to the world championship. The boxer dedicated the film to “his dear mother Luisa Páramo and the great Mexican audience,” considering the many who would never be able to afford a ticket to one of his matches in person. 
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection. Special thanks to Mr. Carlos Vasallo.
Wednesday, July 31 at 4:00pm
Tuesday, August 6 at 6:00pm

Pueblerina
Emilio Fernández, 1949, Mexico, 105m
Spanish with English subtitles

Pueblerina. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

Pueblerina, a key film from Emilio “el Indio” Fernández, is among his most eloquent variations on the rural melodrama, underpinned by themes of injustice, revenge, and redemption. Gloriously shot on location by Gabriel Figueroa (Take Me in Your Arms, The Unknown Policeman), whose superbly composed frames lend an unassuming grandeur to its landscapes and characters, the film follows Aurelio Rodríguez (Roberto Cañedo), who returns to his town after serving a prison sentence, only to find his fiancée Paloma (the singer and artist Columba Domínguez, and Fernández’s favorite actress) living on the edge of town and pregnant. A forlorn masterpiece of understatement and visual splendor, Pueblerina was a massive success in Mexico and abroad at the time of its release. Fernández would remake it 30 years later as his penultimate work, México Norte.
Restored by the Laboratorio de Restauración Digital de La Cineteca Nacional. Televisa, S. de R.L. de C.V. All Rights Reserved. We appreciate the support of Fundación Televisa.
Saturday, July 27 at 6:00pm
Thursday, August 8 at 6:00pm

The Suave One / El Suavecito
Fernando Méndez, 1951, Mexico, 89m
Spanish with English subtitles

The Suave One. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

¡Wereme!” Fernando Méndez’s wildly entertaining gangster melodrama captured the magnetic on-screen presence of Víctor Parra (Wetbacks) alongside the hip gestures and jargon of an entire generation. Reaching Cagney levels of style, Parra stars as the titular Spanglish-speaking pachuco who loves zoot suits and his mother but gets in a little over his head after using the local mob to destroy a taxi driver’s life. By its final act, The Suave One feels closer to an RKO horror film—unsurprisingly, Méndez would make some of his most influential films in the genre—and remains a memorable look at the pitfalls of angsty youth and their flirtations with the criminal underworld, highlighted by Manuel Gómez Urquiza’s ink-black cinematography and featuring songs by Elpidio Ramírez and Dámaso Pérez Prado. The film’s release was postponed for nearly a year because some officials felt its violence harmed the carefully constructed image of Mexico City. 
Restored thanks to Guillermo del Toro, Filmoteca UNAM, Cineteca Nacional, FICG, UDG, and Fundación Televisa. Restoration material courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection. Televisa, S. de R.L. de C.V. All Rights Reserved. We appreciate the support of Fundación Televisa.
Sunday, July 28 at 4:00pm
Wednesday, August 7 at 6:00pm

Sensuality / Sensualidad
Alberto Gout, 1951, Mexico, 96m
Spanish with English subtitles

Sensuality. Courtesy of Claro Video

The Rumberas film was a popular and uniquely Mexican Golden Age genre that drew from Hollywood film noir and injected it with a dose of social criticism, and its protagonists were Afro-Caribbean dancers-cum-femmes fatales who unapologetically subverted social mores. Alberto Gout, synonymous with the Rumberas film, reached the genre’s apex of depravity with Sensuality, a deliriously kitsch-smitten melodrama of sexual subjugation and perverse pleasures. The rumbera here is the compassionless Aurora (an incandescent Ninón Sevilla, Take Me in Your Arms), who wreaks vengeance on the judge who put her and her pimp in jail. Sevilla, who dedicated her life to cinema and died at the age of 94, was described by François Truffaut as a challenge to bourgeois patterns—the eroticized world of the rumberas, the melodramatic halo of her characters, and singular musicality were attractive to a stereotypical European gaze.
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection.
Thursday, August 1 at 6:00pm
Tuesday, August 6 at 8:15pm

Streetwalker / Trotacalles
Matilde Landeta, 1951, Mexico, 98m
Spanish with English subtitles

Streetwalker. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

One of the first women to helm a feature in Mexico, Matilde Landeta stood out in an industry dominated by men by self-financing her earliest productions. In her third and last feature as a director, based on an idea by the journalist Luis Spota, she crafted a strikingly nuanced portrayal of sex work that was truly ahead of its time. It follows two sisters with radically different lives: Maria (Elda Peralta, The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales), who—along with her supportive group of fellow sex workers—must deal with unscrupulous, abusive clients and her exploitative pimp, Rudy (Ernesto Alonso); and Elena (Miroslava Stern, Stranger on Horseback), a society woman trapped in a marriage of convenience, who falls prey to Rudy’s fortune-seeking seduction. In spite of its melodramatic structure, which the film’s producers applied as a way to remold its timely, social-realist subject matter, the film slyly sidesteps generic formulas and flies in the face of feminine heroine archetypes. Matilde, who founded the Sala Tlalpan in Mexico City, and continues to inspire women filmmakers throughout Latin America, described Streetwalker as such: “Instead of making a history of selfless women, I wanted to create a history of women who had done something in life. I wanted to make my films about women I know and feel are true.”
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection.
Sunday, July 28 at 8:00pm
Monday, August 5 at 3:45pm 

The Night Falls / La noche avanza
Roberto Gavaldón, 1952, Mexico, 85m
Spanish with English subtitles

The Night Falls. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

Marcos, a pelota (or jai alai) player keeps a constellation of adoring women in close orbit: the worldly-wise cabaret singer Lucrecia; Sara, rich and slightly older; and Rebeca, a young woman from a good family who discovers she’s pregnant. Buried under gambling debts, Armando, Rebeca’s brother, blackmails Marcos into throwing some important matches, but the plan fails, making Marcos a target of the mob. Robert Gavaldón had an instinctual feel for the surrealistic heart beating below the surface of film noir; the action and subplots pile on so fast and thick that what remains most vivid is an overwhelming sense of corruption that seems to be the rule rather than the exception in daily life. The screenplay was adapted (by Gavaldón, José Revueltas, and Jesús Cárdenas) from stories by Luis Spota, a journalist known for trawling the back alleys and dark passages of Mexican society. 
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection. Televisa, S. de R.L. de C.V. All Rights Reserved. We appreciate the support of Fundación Televisa.
Saturday, July 27 at 8:30pm
Friday, August 2 at 6:15pm

The Sword of Granada – in 3-D / El corazón y la espada
Edward Dein, Carlos Véjar Jr., 1953, Mexico, 87m
Spanish with English subtitles

Sword of Granada. Courtesy of the 3-D Film Archive

Cesar Romero is caught between Rebeca Iturbide (The Three Garcías, The Night Falls) and Katy Jurado (High Noon) in the first 3-D feature film ever produced in Mexico, a visually inventive and frequently funny swashbuckler set in the twilight years of Moorish Spain. Co-directed by Edward Dein, who co-wrote Jacques Tourneur’s The Leopard Man, and Disney animator-turned-director Carlos Véjar Jr., The Sword of Granada brings together the ever-valiant Don Pedro de Rivera (Romero) and his sidekicks Ponce de León (Tito Junco) and Lolita (Jurado) as they infiltrate a Moor-occupied Spanish castle to seek revenge, the elixir of life, and a gold-making formula concocted by the caliph’s alchemist. They might even rescue the caliph’s niece (Iturbide) from an arranged marriage, too. Throughout, Dein and Véjar Jr. pack every second of their rousing adventure with action and movement, taking full advantage of every trick of the stereoscopic image. 
Restored by the 3-D Film Archive from the original Left/Right 35mm camera negatives. 
Wednesday, July 31 at 6:15pm
Sunday, August 4 at 1:30pm

The River and Death / El río y la muerte
Luis Buñuel, 1954, Mexico, 92m
Spanish with English subtitles

The River and Death. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

Writing in his autobiography, My Last Sigh, Luis Buñuel recalled the basis of The River and Death, a bloody and scathingly contrarian pueblo-western made in the middle of his filmmaking career in Mexico (1947–65): “I’ve always been fascinated by the ease with which certain people can kill others, and this idea runs throughout the film in the form of a series of simple and apparently gratuitous murders.” Penned by his frequent scribe Luis Alcoriza (The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales, showing in this series), who adapted Miguel Álvarez Acosta’s 1952 novel White Wall on a Black Rock, the film concerns the final chapter of a generations-old blood feud between two families, and their remaining sons (Miguel Torruco and Joaquín Cordero) compelled to end the dispute once and for all. Buñuel examines, with supreme irony and in reaction to what he noted as a “dramatic aspect of Latin American culture,” an environment pressed between violence and deep-rooted traditions, and sharply deconstructs the images of other rural melodramas made during this period. With Columba Domínguez (Emilio Fernández’s Pueblerina). 
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection. Televisa, S. de R.L. de C.V. All Rights Reserved. We appreciate the support of Fundación Televisa.
Monday, July 29 at 6:15pm
Sunday, August 4 at 8:00pm

Take Me in Your Arms / Llévame en tus brazos
Julio Bracho, 1954, Mexico, 91m
Spanish with English subtitles

Take Me in Your Arms. Courtesy of Permanencia Voluntaria and Cinema Preservation Alliance/Janus Films

Class conflicts and erotic torments come to a head in Julio Bracho’s formally daring masterpiece, one of the most important melodramas of the decade. Take Me in Your Arms follows a fisherman’s daughter (the incomparable Ninón Sevilla, also serving as an uncredited producer with brothers Pedro and Guillermo Calderón) through a nightmare of exploitation and misery—along the way becoming a famous soubrette—in order to erase her father’s debts while she tries, again and again, to reunite with her true love (Armando Silvestre). Bracho and esteemed cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa (The Unknown Policeman, Pueblerina) bring exquisite atmospherics to each shot with carefully calibrated lighting and meticulous compositions—on location in Veracruz or via stunningly designed and choreographed musical sequences—but the film equally belongs to Sevilla, whose unforgettable performance elevates this rapturous portrait of agitated desire into something far more complicated and ahead of its time. A Janus Films release.
4K restoration by Permanencia Voluntaria and Cinema Preservation Alliance with the generous support of Academy Film Archive, Paso del Norte Community Foundation, FOCINE.
Friday, July 26 at 6:00pm
Thursday, August 1 at 4:00pm
Sunday, August 4 at 6:00pm

Wetbacks / Espaldas mojadas
Alejandro Galindo, 1955, Mexico, 115m
Spanish with English subtitles

Wetbacks. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

“In this land, dreams come at a very high price.” Alejandro Galindo’s high-strung melodrama-western about border crossing and undocumented immigrants is as timely and lacerating today as it was in 1955. Based on a story by Juan Rulfo, Wetbacks follows Rafael Améndola (David Silva), one of the many Mexican workers who make a perilous journey to the United States in search of the so-called American Dream. Instead he lives in constant anxiety and is alienated by Americans and Mexican-Americans alike (among them, a bleach-blonde and wicked Víctor Parra). It was the first film to seriously address the issues faced by Mexicans in the United States, and the Mexican government delayed its release for two years out of fear of incensing its northern neighbor. Galindo, who had been accused of “distorting reality,” beautifully and humanely expresses the insecurity and danger of illegal migration alongside the equally daunting obstacles faced in an unknown land: labor exploitation, discrimination, culture shock, loneliness, and isolation.
Restored by the Laboratorio de Restauración Digital de la Cineteca Nacional.
Sunday, July 28 at 1:30pm
Monday, August 5 at 8:15pm

The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales / El esqueleto de la señora Morales
Rogelio Antonio González, 1960, Mexico, 81m
Spanish with English subtitles

The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales. Courtesy of Claro Video

Leave it to frequent Buñuel scriptwriter Luis Alcoriza (The River and Death, The Exterminating Angel, Él) and comic maestro Rogelio Antonio González (co-writer of The Three Garcías) to craft one of the greatest macabre comedies of Mexican cinema. An uproarious Arturo de Córdova (The Kneeling Goddess) stars as Mr. Pablo Morales, an affable taxidermist who for 20 years has been psychologically tormented by his puritanical wife (Amparo Rivelles, delightfully hateable). She despises everything about him—his vocation, his amateur photography hobby, his friendship with the neighborhood kids—but nevertheless he still loves her. Every man has his limits, though, even a doting husband, and one day Pablo meticulously plans the perfect murder…. A freewheeling mixing of genres—horror, comedy, courtroom drama—and a personal favorite of Guillermo del Toro, The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales gleefully twists the knife into the hypocrisies of middle-class respectability, satirizing everything from crumbling marriages to the Catholic church to the justice system. 
Restored by the Laboratorio de Restauración Digital de La Cineteca Nacional.
Monday, July 29 at 8:15pm
Saturday, August 3 at 8:00pm

The Mind and the Crime / La mente y el crimen
Alejandro Galindo, 1961, Mexico, 96m
Spanish with English subtitles

The Mind and the Crime. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

Independently financed by Galindo (which required mortgaging his house) in response to the true crime radio craze of the 1950s, this ingenious, relentlessly narrated experimental “documentary” veers radically from horror-noir to forensic realism to abstract-surrealist collage to police propaganda and back again. Exploring a real homicide case in a singular fashion, which begins after a mutilated corpse is fished out of a Mexico City canal, Galindo presents an investigation into the (then) cutting-edge forensic technology police had at their disposal to solve crimes—in cold, methodical fashion—and examine the pathologies behind them. A boldly outlandish whatsit, The Mind and the Crime is a police procedural like you’ve never seen, organized according to the ineffable logic of a nightmare. 
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection.  
Monday, July 29 at 4:00pm
Wednesday, August 7 at 8:00pm

The Witch’s Mirror / El espejo de la bruja
Chano Urueta, 1962, Mexico, 75m
Spanish with English subtitles

The Witch’s Mirror. © Alameda Films

Based on a script by Carlos Enrique Taboada—later widely known for his own horror tetralogy, which culminated with the Ariel Award winner Poison for the Fairies (1984)—The Witch’s Mirror is an endlessly suggestive, cleverly film-literate supernatural chiller from pioneering director Chano Urueta (The Great Champion). A whiplash-inducing cross between Rebecca, Eyes Without a Face, and The Hands of Orlac, set inside a nondescript hacienda in Mexico, the film concerns a housekeeper/witch (Isabela Corona) who concocts a beyond-the-grave revenge scheme after her goddaughter is murdered by her philandering doctor husband… who experiments on corpses. Making the absolute most out of a modest budget, Urueta constructs an increasingly unsettling film with unhinged twists and profound ideas concerning fate and societal standards of beauty. 
Restoration courtesy of Alameda Films and Labo Digital. 
Friday, August 2 at 8:15pm
Wednesday, August 7 at 4:15pm

Santo vs. the Vampire Women / Santo vs. las mujeres vampiro
Alfonso Corona Blake, 1962, Mexico, 90m
Spanish with English subtitles

Santo vs. the Vampire Women. Courtesy of Claro Video

Wrestling culture was wildly popular in the 1950s. By the following decade, it was a full-fledged phenomenon that cinema capitalized on with lucha libre films, which mixed the sport’s intense fairground spectacle with the mystery enshrined by its satin-masked marquee names, who transformed into superheroes battling evil—human or supernatural—in films that embraced a wild combination of genres and cinematic influences. Perhaps no other figure epitomized this brand of Mexican wrestler cinema more than the ever-charismatic Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta, better known by his ring name El Santo. In this cult film classic, which inspired so many other productions in its wake with its sui generis combination of exciting fight sequences, clever special effects, and sense of humor, El Santo is tasked with thwarting a group of lady vampires from kidnapping a professor’s daughter and marrying her to the devil. 
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection.  
Thursday, August 1 at 8:15pm
Tuesday, August 6 at 4:00pm

Autumn Days / Días de otoño
Roberto Gavaldón, 1963, Mexico, 95m
Spanish with English subtitles

Autumn Days. © Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM

For their third B. Traven adaptation together, Roberto Gavaldón and lead Ignacio López Tarso recruited the frequent Luis Buñuel scenarist Julio Alejandro to craft this unsettling, surrealist-tinged melodrama with a certain Hitchcockian fondness for double lives. Pina Pellicer stars as Luisa, a young woman from the countryside, who travels to the capital and goes to work for Albino (Tarso), the widowed owner of a candy shop. Her new employer soon develops a fondness for Luisa, who insists—to everyone around her—that within weeks she’ll be marrying her boyfriend Carlos, a driver for a wealthy family. Yet something seems amiss: Carlos never shows up to spend Christmas Eve with Luisa, and furthermore forgets to give her a present. Her wedding day finally comes, and Luisa heads off to the church, and waits… and waits. Gavaldón here looks at the new, middle-class culture then spreading rapidly in urban Mexico, exposing how appearances too often replace any real substance in even the most intimate relations. 
Courtesy of Filmoteca UNAM’s collection. Televisa, S. de R.L. de C.V. All Rights Reserved. We appreciate the support of Fundación Televisa.
Tuesday, July 30 at 6:00pm
Saturday, August 3 at 6:00pm

The Batwoman / La mujer murciélago
René Cardona, 1968, Mexico, 81m
Spanish with English subtitles

The Batwoman. © ermanencia Voluntaria and Cinema Preservation Alliance.

Perhaps the pinnacle of Mexican camp, made the same year as the finale of the Adam West–starring American television series, The Batwoman is a zippy, action-packed, delightfully deranged comic book movie that draws on everything from Batmania and The Creature from the Black Lagoon to the world of lucha libre to Mexico’s tourism industry. After the bodies of several luchadores wash ashore on the scenic Acapulco coast, local police have no one to turn to but the legendary Batwoman (Italian actress Maura Monti), a masked, blue-bikini-wearing vigilante who uses her personal wealth to confront a deranged scientist hell-bent on creating a breed of underwater wrestlers. Ultra-prolific René Cardona, whose career spanned Mexico’s Golden Age and beyond, laces his direction with an uncategorizable tone that swings somewhere between ironic and dead serious—a charming subversion that keeps the film as fun today as it was in 1968. 
4K restoration by Permanencia Voluntaria and Cinema Preservation Alliance with the generous support of Academy Film Archive, Paso del Norte Community Foundation, and FOCINE.
Wednesday, July 31 at 8:15pm
Saturday, August 3 at 1:30pm