One of the best loved of all Spanish films, Welcome, Mr. Marshall! begins as the local governor arrives in the sleepy Castilian town of Villar del Rio to announce that the U.S. Marshall Plan Commission—which is trying to decide if Spain deserved the economic credits and assistance offered to much of Europe at World War II’s end—will soon be making a visit. Desperate to impress the foreigners, the townspeople, led by their redoubtable and deaf mayor, come up with a plan of their own: they re-create the town as a picture-perfect tourist fantasy of Spain, complete with women in shawls, clicking castanets, and bullfighters—covering up the dire conditions in which they really live. Denounced as un-American by no less than actor Edward G. Robinson when serving on the jury at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival, Welcome, Mr. Marshall! is a delightful, good-natured romp whose real target is a Spain trying to figure out its identity in a rapidly changing world. The dream sequences, in which the townspeople imagine what they’d really like from the Americans, are priceless.
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