June is Guest Blogger Month!

I'm excited to declare June 2009 as the second annual guest blogger month for this blog! I already have a few guest posts in the works and I hope to get a lot more. If you are interested in writing a guest blog for me, please send me your idea and/or post to QuelleLove at Gmail dot com.

I only ask a few things:

1) That the post be classic film related (1920s to 1960s)
2) That it not be too long.
3) That it have a personal perspective or personal twist
4) That you include at least one image or allow me to add one

I hope to see lots of you participate and am looking forward to adding some variety to my blog with the perspective of lots of intelligent and enthusiastic classic film fans.

Out of the Past, Tildes and a Parking Lot


Senor Tommy Salami over at the excellent Pluck You Too! saw this sign, snapped a picture and sent it over to me. I immediately loved it! Not only does it have the name of my blog, it even has my signature tildes and everything! Woot!

Latino Images in Film Schedule for 5/28

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1983)

Lonestar (1996)

Popi (1969) - read Tommy Salami's take on this here.

My Family (1995) - superb contemporary Latino family drama

Terror in a Texas Town (1958)

While I'm not writing a proper review about this, I would like to post a little something about this Western being shown on TCM tonight. It's a very interesting little movie about Swedish and Mexican immigrants in a small Western town being run by corrupt and dangerous men. Sterling Hadyen stars as a George Hansen, a Swede, who comes to visit his father's farm only to find out that his father has been killed. A wealthy tycoon had hired a professional hitman/gunfighter to kill anyone who refused to give up their land, which it has been discovered to be oil-rich. His father's best friend, Jose Mirada (Victor Millan), a Mexican, witnessed the murder but is reluctant to give George information about the hitman who was hired to kill him. Hayden's character is determined to avenge his father and the corrupt men in the town, especially the gunfighter/hitman Johnny Crale (Ned Young), is worried that George knows too much and that his freedom as a gun wielding murderer is at stake.

I like the bond between the Swedes and the Mexicans. I think this has to do with me being a Latina and having formed a really great friendship with Jonas from All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!, who happens to be a Swede. If you get a chance to watch this/DVR it tonight, please do! Otherwise, it's available on DVD as well.

Latino Images in Film Schedule for 5/26 & Winners of Giveaway

And the winners of the fabulous giveaway (as chosen by Random.org) are...

Frank ~ Guest Blogger
Jonas ~ All Talking! All Singing! All Dancing!
Mercurie ~ A Shroud of Thoughts
Tommy Salami ~ Pluck You Too!
Casey ~ Noir Girl


I will be e-mailing the winners today. Thank you to everyone who participated. If you missed out, there is still time to enter the sweepstakes at TCM's Latino Images in Film website.



Here is tonight's schedule for TCM:


Stand and Deliver (1988)
Walk Proud (1979)
Boulevard Nights (1979)
Badge 373 (1973)
Strangers in the City (1962)

Queen Norma Shearer ~ Smilin' Through (1932)

If you didn't catch the Norma Shearer movie Smilin' Through (1932) on TCM recently, then you missed out on something truly special. In the 5 or 6 years I've been haunting the TCM website looking for Norma Shearer movies to be scheduled, this is the first time I've seen this film listed. So chances are they haven't shown it in that time, or I missed the one time they did! In other words, it's a pretty rare film to see. Right now it's #7 on TCM's Not-On-Home Video Ranking system with 4,231 votes, a lot of votes may have generated after the last showing. Let's hope this is a signal to Warner Bros. Archive to release this on DVD soon!



Norma Shearer stars in a dual role as both the virginal angelic Moonyean and the lively spirited Kathleen. (Shearer was not a stranger to dual roles. Check out the silent movie A Lady of the Night (1925).) The setting is WWI England and we are introduced to John Carteret (Leslie Howard), a sorrowful man who holds on to the memory of his long-lost love Moonyean. The ghost of Moonyean beckons to him but he can't sense her presence as he is drowning in his own self-pity and anger. John adopts Moonyean's orphaned niece Kathleen, raising her as his own child. She blossoms into a beautiful young woman; the spitting image of the ethereal Moonyean. Their relationship is just perfect until Kathleen falls in love with Kenneth Wayne (Frederich March), an American soldier whose major flaw is being the son of Jeremy Wayne (also Frederic March). Jeremy was violently in love with Moonyean, yet his love was unrequited as she was to marry her love John. On their wedding day, Jeremy tries to murder John but kills Moonyean instead. John keeps the terrible event a secret from Kathleen and only sees fit to tell her when he finds out Kenneth is the son of Jeremy. John forces Kathleen to promise not to see Kenneth but their love is too strong and they steal moments together until Kenneth goes off to war. Kathleen is torn between her love for her Uncle and her love for Kenneth. Will John be able to move on from the past and allow Kathleen to be happy? Or will it be too late?




This film feels very ethereal with Moonyean's ghost, the soft focus of the camera, the soft English countryside and the almost vacant town. There is an emptiness in the surroundings and this void is filled with heightened states of emotion. The slow, leisurely pace of life contrasts with the bombings of the war going on just some miles away. What I love about Victorian/Edwardian stories like this is that all emotions and reactions are so grandly exaggerated. The characters have so much time on their hands that they are left with their own thoughts and lot of time for thinking and brooding can make the heart heavy. This film is romantic and theatrical and the cast is simply wonderful. It's a veritable treat and I hope you all get a chance to see it, because it would be an utter shame if you didn't.

An Ode to my Father


I know so little about my father even though I lived with both my parents for 25 years and I don't go without seeing my father for more than 2 weeks at a time. He is a mystery to me and I find that I'm constantly trying to understand him. My father was born on January 1st, 1928 in a tiny seaside town in Portgual. He lived in Portugal until 1959 when he was contracted to work on ships transporting petroleum. He was a seafaring man for 3 years, traveling the world and sometimes spending only a few hours at a time on land. In 1962, he moved to Long Island New York and began contract work in the construction business. He moved quickly up the ranks as he has a strong work ethic, is a fast learner and is a natural born leader. He got the traveling bug again in 1967 and roamed around the world for a few more years, picking up odd jobs along the way. During my father's years of wanderlust, he visited a total of 52 countries. He settled down in Massachusetts in the late 1970s. He met my mother through a subscription dating service (the 1970s equivalent of Match.com) and they met in her home country of the Dominican Republic. They married in 1979 and I was born the following year.

My father's story is a lot more complex than what I just presented. If I really knew more of the details of his life, I would probably find a different person from the one I know now. However, my dad keeps many secrets to himself and I often joke that I probably have more half-siblings than I think I do. In his advanced years, my father is becoming more open to revealing details of his life's journey and I take these opportunities to ask him lots of questions although there are ones I know I cannot ask because they would rouse his macho Portuguese ire.

I find that my interest in classic films stems mostly from my constant need to understand my father. The decades from the 1920s to the 1960s intrigue me the most because these are the years my dad lived through but also the decades of his life that I know little about. Watching these films and getting a taste of what those decades were like, I feel like I can better connect with him. Growing up in the 1930s and 1940s in Portugal, my father and his friends would often go to the local cinema and watch American movies. He's told me that he loved watching Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Laurel & Hardy, the Marx Bros., etc on the big screen. I mention a classic film star to him and with a smile that lights up his face, he instantly knows who I'm talking about. If anything, immersing myself in classic films has brung me closer to my dad and for that I'm very appreciative.

The picture you see above is of my father in Milan, Italy circa 1971. I love this photograph of because it shows him as elegant and well-traveled. His look is ultra-confident as though he knows that the camera is getting him at his best angle. He is not even phazed by the pigeons pecking at his hand. I look at this picture and I think to myself "my father is cool".

-----

Make sure you check out John's "Dad's Photos" series on the blog Robert Frost's Banjo! I was very inspired by his series to do this post.

Latino Images in Film ~ Greenwich Village (1944)

Greenwich Village (1944) is a Technicolor musical featuring the iconic talent Carmen Miranda. Don Ameche plays Kenneth Harvey, a composer who has got "sucker" written all over him. He visits New York in hopes of interesting composer Kavosy in his concerto. Instead, he gets sidetracked by the cast of characters that inhabits a Greenwich Village speakeasy. First there is owner Danny O'Hare (played by the wonderful William Bendix) who sees Kenneth's money and talent as a major draw. Then there is dancer/singer/entertainer Princess Querida (Carmen Miranda) who is tickled pink by "Kennys". Finally there is Bonnie (Vivian Blaine), the speakeasy singer who is the only person not trying to pull one over on Kenneth. Kenneth and Bonnie begin to fall in love but things get complicated when Kenneth is swindled out of money and his concerto. What's a good-looking, talented and in love man to do?



I hadn't realized that Carmen Miranda was born in Portugal and raised in Brazil until I researched her after watching the film. Confession: I don't consider Portuguese or Brazilian people to be Latino/Hispanic. Second Confession: While I am 1/2 Dominican, I'm also 1/2 Portuguese. So while some would consider me 100% Latina, I only consider myself technically 50% (but at heart I'm that full 100%). For me, Latino culture is intrisincally tied in with the Spanish language.



With that said Carmen Miranda is simply charming in this film as the Portuguese Princess Querida whose wiggle hypnotizes, whose personality dazzles and whose misuse of the English language absolutely charms. This is a quaint film. The storyline is pretty basic musical fare. It's fairly predictable and the only surprises seem to come out of the blue with almost no prior warning. I do however recommend this film highly to anyone who has been interested in watching a Miranda film but didn't know where to start. I was going to talk about the TCM clip in which Rita Moreno talk about Carmen Miranda's career. She calls Miranda "sad lady" and that she had much more potential but this was the hand she was dealt. Casey over at Noir Girl did such an excellent post, which spurred discussion among her readers including myself, that I direct you over to her site to read it. This was my first Carmen Miranda film and I saw her vibrant and electric and not sad or pathetic. I will definitely see more Miranda films in the future.



TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Thursday May 21st

Greenwich Village (1940)
West Side Story (1961)
La Bamba (1987)
The Mambo Kings (1992)
Cuba (1979)

Latino Images in Film ~ The Young Savages (1961)

The Young Savages (1961) stars Burt Lancaster as Hank Bell an assistant D.A. put on the case of three teenage Wops (Italians) that stabbed a blind teenage 'Spic (Puerto Rican) to death. At first the case seems really clear, this innocent blind kid out of nowhere gets brutally murdered by rageful strangers. However, the story unfolds and things are more complicated than they seemed. District Attorney is lusting after the governor's position and wants Bell to get the death penalty. Bell, who grew up in the slums with his fellow Wops, at first wants the same but starts to sympathize with old fiancee Mary DiPace (Shelley Winters) whose son was one of the three boys involved in the crime. Bell gets caught between two violent gangs Thunderbirds (Italians) and the Horsemen (Puerto Ricans), blood thirsty newspapermen, incapable cops, the loves of his life, and the list goes on and on. The film ends with riveting court scenes as the three Italian boys face their sentencing.


This is director John Frankenheimer second film and first with legendary actor Burt Lancaster. The cinematography is gorgeous. Many shots are layered and the mise-en-scene is dramatic with objects and faces frozen in the foreground and action happening in the background. The film deals with social issues in a way that only a '60s movie can do. The decade really opened filmmakers up to explore human nature more freely and with less restriction as the Code's reign was nearing it's demise. I place The Young Savages at the upper-echelon of superb dramatic movies! (Please read the excellent article on TCM's website about the film. Lots of great trivia and facts to be found there!)


I'm a bit torn about how the Puerto Ricans are represented in this film and find myself more ambivalent than offended. At first, the blind Puerto Rican boy is the epitome of innocence. His family, friends and neighbors all seem angelic in their mourning. However, as the story progresses the separation balance of evil on both sides changes with the Italians looking better and the Puerto Ricans looking worse and worse. We initially hate those three Italian boys but then we pity them. I'm not sure if this story would have worked in reverse with three Puerto Rican teens killing a blind Italian boy or if Bell would have been Puerto Rican, and in that case we wouldn't have had the wonderful Burt Lancaster in the starring role. This is such a great film than I really don't want to think to think ill of it but really in the end the representation of Latinos in this film can be considered poor at best. If you have any thoughts on these, please share!



Level of Brown Face ~ 0 out of 5 shades. 100% real Hispanic actors. Woot!

TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Tuesday May 19th

The Lawless (1950)
Trial (1955)
Cry Tough (1959)
The Young Savages (1961)
Blackboard Jungle (1955)


Looking towards the future in Eights

I wasn't going to do this meme if I was tagged and for a while there I wasn't. Then Ginger Ingenue/Olivia/MacPherson/OnMars over at Asleep in New York tagged me and I thought "why not?". I've had a lot of heady posts on here lately especially with my Latino Images in Film blogathon so I thought I'd do something light for a change.

Since I don't like meme rules, I'm changing things up a bit. Don't like it? I don't care.

Eight things I'm working on in my life right now:
1) training for a 5k race
2) changing my diet and exercise regimens (lost 10lbs so far!)
3) waking up earlier in the mornings to squeeze in movie watching
4) watch more movies! I've been slacking.
5) start another blog
6) re-envision my social life
7) work on my self-esteem and confidence
8) be more spontaneous!

Eight classic film related things I look forward to:
1) More Warner Bros. Archive movies
2) Jack Lemmon boxed set!
3) Convincing myself to purchase Fox, Borzage & Murnau boxed set
4) Watching more of the Fox Movie Channel
5) TCM's Summer Under the Stars
6) Watching films Professor Jonas has sent me
7) Connecting with more classic film fans
8) Watching more classic films at the Brattle and Harvard Film Archive

Eight things I want to do for this blog:
1) Bring up my followers to 100 and my RSS subscribers to 200.
2) Do more contests & Quel Interpretations!
3) Write a review for every single Norma Shearer film I have access too!
4) Start my next blogathon (shhh it's a secret)
5) Communicate more with other bloggers
6) Finish my Pamela Tiffin series and start another similar one.
7) Do more Match.com style posts
8) Have more guest bloggers (contact me if you are interested)

Eight movies I'm going to watch next:
1) Smilin' Through (1932)
2) The Sign of the Ram (1948)
3) 8 Women (2002)
4) Strange Interlude (1932) Thank you Jonas
5) No, My Darling Daughter (1961) - Thank you Casey
6) The Last of Mrs. Cheney (1929) - Thank you Jonas
7) The Pleasure Seekers (1964) - post coming soon
8) all the Latino Images in Film movies that I had to tape or rent.

Instead of tagging people I want to take this opportunity to point out to people some interesting tweeters on Twitter. Here is a start up list:@tommysalami @mercurie80 @1416andcounting @talkieking @moviecollector @TCManiacs @MoviesonTCM @impossiblecat @fleurdeguerre. Look at who I follow on my Twitter page to find some other great tweeters.

Although Ginger disses Twitter, I think if you use it in the right way it revolutionizes the way you blog and the way you access information on the internet, as long as you follow the right people and tweet intersting things.

Reminder: TCM Latino Images in Film Giveaway

You know you want to win this. Enter the giveaway here.


Ignorance is Bliss vs. Knowledge is Power

Over at Noir Girl, Casey's post about Carmen Miranda got me thinking about how classic film fans watch movies. There are the times we watch films for substance, looking for stories that speak to our own personal experiences or enrich their lives by exploring the human condition in ways they hadn't done before. Other times we watch for enjoyment, for an escape from our everyday world and into another existence. Some of us lean towards the substance, others lean towards the enjoyment yet we all find our own comfortable balance between the two. We approach films different types of knowledge or lack thereof. We come armed with an arsenal of information either about the film, its stars, the director or the genre or we come completely pure and naive ready to experience something new and different. Again, a lot of us lean towards one or the other side but we find balance between the two.

In one of Casey's comments she says "the films are the ice cream, the lives of the stars are just the sprinkles on the top. That's the way it should stay." I've read a few posts by other classic film bloggers and they pretty much align with Casey's viewpoint which is that certain knowledge about the lives of stars stains the purity of enjoyment when watching the films. I don't really agree with this concept but I can understand it. Reading about Loretta Young in two separate biographies about other stars made me not like her so much and thus I have avoided her films. However, I didn't like her much to begin with so the knowledge just enhanced that. On the flip side, I've read sordid details about the lives of Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Robert Mitchum, Norma Shearer, etc. and it hasn't affected how I watch their films. I still enjoy them immensely on screen. I can see where that might not work for everyone. Joan Crawford is forever tainted by that one famous line about wire hangers.

I am far too nosy and inquisitive to not learn about the lives of classic film stars yet is it right for me to dig up the dirt? Should I honor their legendary careers by avoiding their personal lives? If so, why should I? If they did bad things, why should I overlook them? What about those stars who were genuinely good people? Should we avoid them too? Jimmy Stewart was raised in my estimation after reading Marc Eliot's biography of him. Stewart gets the bad rap of being a womanizer (total myth) and dirt-digging Eliot couldn't even find much to tarnish Stewart.

Now I ask you dear readers, would you rather know or not know and why? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Latino Images in Film ~ Giant (1956)

Giant (1956) is a superb film which is often overshadowed by the fact that it was the iconic James Dean's 3rd and final picture. While Dean's performance is nothing short of amazing, I feel that this film has many other merits which are often overlooked. The family saga follows the story of the Benedicts and their Texas ranch Reata. Jordan Benedict (Rock Hudson) runs the ranch with the same old-fashioned sentiment that was handed down to him by his ancestors. He marries fiery and compassionate Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor) who balances him out and also butts heads with him in the best way a wife can. Together they raise three children and we see how the family, ranch and the world evolves over the years. The family's story parallels the story of Jett Rink (James Dean) Jordan's arch-nemesis and the oil tycoon with a trouble soul.

I believe that Giant (1956) may be one of the best films ever made, and that is no hyperbole on my part. The first time I watched it I broke down in tears as I was so moved by the story. This epic is one of the best treatments on the social issue of racism and prejudice against Mexican-Americans or even Latinos in general. It exposes the prejudice while at the same time humanizing Mexican immigrants in a way that very few films have done. Jordan Benedict (Rock Hudson) has a clear idea about the separation between white Texans and Mexican "wetbacks". They work the same land but their lives are kept separate and social interaction is discouraged. When Leslie moves to Reata, she brings a compassion to her fellow human beings that disturbs Jordan. Many years later, when Jordan's son, Jordy (Dennis Hopper) marries Mexican nurse Juana, Jordan has to come to terms with his irrational prejudices.


Spoiler Alert - My favorite scene comes towards the end when Jordan Benedict takes Leslie, Luz and Juana to a restaurant. The owner of the restaurant makes a big fuss about serving Mexicans like Juana and her young son. When a Mexican family tries to eat there, the owner kicks them out. This angers Jordan who now sees all Mexicans as part of his family and Jordan and the owner get into a fistfight which results in the whole family being kicked out. This is quite a momentous scene as we see Jordan come full-circle.



For how wonderful this film is, it is big on "brownface". Sal Mineo is one of the worst cases. He is almost irrecognizable with his heavy brown pancake makeup. Even the Hispanic actors such as Elsa Cardenas (Juana) were given extra foundation for some ethnic enhancement. This film goes a bit overboard with almost everyone's make-up and I think that it in part has to do with it being shot in Technicolor. Several characters get specialized makeup to show the advancement of years and with the brownface, I feel like this film was in part an experiment on the use of makeup in film to enhance the visual elements. The merits of the story as a whole I believe outdo the offense of the brownface. It's lucky that the Best Make-Up Oscar was still a few decades away, as this film may have been a contender for that time!




Level of Brown Face ~ 5 out of 5 Shades.

TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Thursday May 14th

Mexican Spitfire (1940)
My Man and I (1952)
Giant (1956)
The Texican (1966)

Latino Images in Film ~ The Garment Jungle (1957)

The Garment Jungle (1957) is an industry-specific film noir focuses on the shady dealings in NYC's garment business circa mid-1950s. Walter Mitchell (Lee J. Cobb) of Roxton Fashions has a major dispute with his business partner over the formation of a union to protect the company's workers, many of whom are Latinos. Shortly thereafter the business partner dies in a freak elevator "accident". Mitchell has been paying gangsters to help protect his business from the union but is too busy to realize that they have killed his partner and best friend. Mitchell's son Alan (Kerwin Matthews) becomes part of his father's business right at the moment when the tension between the union and the workers, the executives and the thugs is about to get out of control. Alan meets worker Tulio, a frustrated union leader desperate for change even if it means neglecting his wife Theresa (Gia Scala) and child. When Tulio is killed by the gangsters, Alan is determined to make his deluded father see what's really going on and to cut the company's ties with the gangsters for good.

The screenplay was inspired by an expose written by Lester Velie and published in the July 1955 issue of Readers Digest called "Gangsters in the Dress Business". The Hispanic workers at the garment factory and represented in the film are overworked, underpaid and fed up with it. When they try to fight back, they are oppressed with extreme violence. In real life, a union worker was killed by gangsters and the footage of the funeral is used in the film. The exploitation of Hispanic workers is still an ongoing problem today so this film could definitely open up the opportunity to have some round table discussions.

This is a film in which the execution is poor yet the cultural concept is interesting enough it makes it worth viewing. The acting is so-so and the story is weighed down by poorly written dialogue and weak romantic sub-plots. I was a bit disturbed by the widow Theresa being passed off to a new man before the first husband was even dead. It's not something that happens in the story per-say but as the audience member you know that it's coming. I also found the inclusion of racism a little forced. It's as though someone said "hey we need some derrogatory terms thrown at these Latino characters, let's say ''spic bum' a few times, that should do it!" Otherwise, culturally this film is representative of a volatile time in American history and serves well as a vehicle of looking at the present through the past.

Level of Brown Face: 1 out of 5 shades. Italian is Hispanic enough in this film...

TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Tuesday May 12th

Tortilla Flat (1942)
... And Now Miguel (1943)
The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
Salt of the Earth (1954)
The Garment Jungle (1957)

Vote for the Dairy Barn!

American Express-Partners in Preservation program is giving grants to historical Massachusetts landmarks that need funding for the preservation of these sites. Out of 700 applicants, they chose 25 and they are asking that you the public vote for which you think most deserves funding. The winner will be guaranteed a grant. Others will be reviewed by committees to decide whether they should get some of the funding.

So why am I writing about this? Because my high school's Dairy Barn is one of the 25 contenders. I attended Norfolk County Agricultural High School from 1994-1998. I was an Environmental Science major but had a special place in my heart for the Dairy cows and the Dairy Barn. The barn was built in 1919 and has been instrumental in teaching students about farm management. However, due to detoriation the barn no longer houses dairy cows and students are not allowed in. This gorgeous barn is now used only for the storage of hay.

I spent many many hours in this Dairy barn. I got to see a cow give birth, I got to feed the cows, milk them and even bond with them. In my Junior year, I selected a special Guernsey cow named Gemma to be my cow for the Spring show. I would go to the school on Saturday mornings to train with her and groom her. I clipped her, bathed her, cleaned her ears and nose, scrubbed her, shined her hooves and got her all gussied up for the show. Together we won 3 ribbons! I have so many special memories of her and they all tie together with that barn.

So I'm asking you, please vote for my high school's barn. Register on the website and you can vote for it once a day until May 17th. The more votes it gets, the better chance it will receive some funding. Unlike the other sites, the barn is used for educational purposes and does not get any outside funding from admission fees. So it really really does need your votes!




That's me at 16 showing Gemma the Guernsey cow at the 1997 Spring Show.


Here is Gemma and I again and you can see the Dairy barn and silo in the background.


My friends Kevin and Lisa outside the dairy barn. 5/3/09



Here I am petting Crystal the Guernsey. She's Gemma's great-grandaughter! 5/3/09


and have a Happy Mother's Day!

TCM Latino Images in Film Giveaway

I'm very blessed to be able to do another TCM related giveaway, this time in conjunction with their Latino Images in Film festival. This festival is by far my favorite and very close to my heart since I am a Latina who loves classic films. I really hope that you'll take the time to watch some of the films in the festival and really think about the representation of Latinos in these movies.

I will be giving away some Latino Images in Film themed composition notebooks to the winners of this contest.

How to Enter:

1) Check out the TCM's Latino Images in Film line-up and the TCM Originals video clips.

2) Add a comment on this post about which film in the line-up you want to see and why or have seen and what you thought of it. Or tell me something interesting you learned watching the video clips.

3) Bloggers, add a link or write an entry on your blog about TCM Latino Images in Film festival. If you are on Twitter, tweet about it to your followers.

4) Entries must be in by midnight Sunday May 24th. You can also e-mail the entries to Quellelove at Gmail dot com.

Winners will be announced Tuesday May 26th. They will be chosen at random. This contest is open to everyone. If you chose not to participate, you can always enter TCM's contest on their website for the same prize. You do however have a better chance of winning a notebook here!

Latino Images in Film ~ Border Incident (1949)

Border Incident (1949) is a gripping noir about the illegal smuggling of braceros (Mexican workers) into the US. Ricardo Montalban stars as Pablo Rodriguez, a Mexican undercover agent who is posing as a paisano/bracero in order to infiltrate a band of devious smugglers. Pablo befriends bracero Juan Garcia (James Mitchell) and the two form a close bond. As Pablo and Juan get smuggled across the border, American agent Jack Bearnes (George Murphy) who is posing as a dealer in forged immigration papers. However, the network of bandits are violent and determined to get their way and things get to get complicated and ugly really quickly.

I have to say, this was a very uncomfortable film to watch. It's very violent, not in terms of gore but with torture and murder. Plus there is also a pit of death where the illegal braceros are thrown in to die once they are no longer needed (yikes!). Some folks don't think it's technically a noir but it's got all the elements of a noir just in an atypical setting. This films merits I think lie in the performances of Ricardo Montalban and James Mitchell. They are our heroes and we root for them all the way.

You mean, you can make a film about Latinos with Latino actors?! No!!! The Mexican characters in this film are mostly played by Latinos, which makes a welcome change from Caucasian actors with olive complexions (or extra make-up). The only exception is James Mitchell, who I don't think is actually Hispanic but I could be wrong. The theme of illegal immigration and the exploitation of Mexican workers makes this film incredibly relevant today. The situations in the story are disturbingly real and I think this is a good movie for sparking some political discussions.

Level of Brown Face: 1 out of 5 Shades.

TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Tuesday May 7th

Bordertown (1935)
Border Incident (1949)
Right Cross (1950)
Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)
Revenue Agent (1950)

Latino Images in Film ~ The Mark of Zorro (1920)

In The Mark of Zorro (1920), Douglas Fairbanks Sr. plays the title role of Zorro, a masked crusader out to defend and fight for the interests of the oppressed. In his world, this is everyone who is subject to the law (governor, soldiers, sargeants, etc) which is corrupt. By day, he is a soft, jaded rich boy with a delicate education from Spain, the motherland, but whenever the oppressed people of his community needs him, he transforms into the masked Zorro, a genuine hero full of masculine bravado and good intent. No one knows Zorro's true identity, not even his love interest Lolita who he is wooing as both versions of himself. Can he save his townspeople from oppresion and win the heart of Lolita? Zorro can do anything!


This silent classic was produced by Douglas Fairnbanks' production company and was the first feature film release of United Artists, which Fairbanks started with Chaplin and his wife Pickford among others. This was the first in a series of swashbuckling movies that Fairbanks did, which made him vastly popular. Fans of his son Douglas Fairbanks Jr. might remember him mocking his father's performance in the film Our Dancing Daughters. In the cast is also Noah Beery, brother of Wallace Beery and Walt Whitman, although no relation to the poet (darn!).

I thoroughly enjoyed this silent film. Fairbanks was quite acrobatic and his stunts were enjoyable to watch. The representation of Mexican/Spanish people in the film I thought was done very respectfully. What I found interesting is that although the main division is between the townspeople and the law, there is a cultural division between the light-skinned noble Spanish blood which is higher in ranking than the dark-skinned natives. As I am fascinated with early Dominican culture, these kind of cultural divisions always fascinate me.

Level of Brown Face: 2 out of 5 shades

Oh my! Those pants are rather tight, aren't they Mr. Fairbanks?


TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Tuesday May 5th

Ramona (1910)
The Mark of Zorro (1920)
Old San Francisco (1927)
Big Stakes (1922)
In Old Arizona (1929)
The Gay Desperado (1936)

People En Español ~ Latinos Channeling Classic Film Stars

What seems like absolute perfect timing for TCM's Latino Images in Film, People En Español magazine came out with their annual issue Los 50 Mas Bellos de 2009 (50 Most Beautiful of 2009). In the current issue, the feature a handful of Hispanic celebrities dressed as classic film stars in their iconic roles. This kind of reinvisioning the past with contemporary stars is not new, in fact Vanity Fair does this all of the time (see my previous post about last year's March-Hitchcock issue). However, I was surprised to see People En Español participate. Pleasantly surprised. They are loose interpretations by all means but I'm glad they at least exist! Please make sure you check out the website or pick up a copy of the magazine. However, just to warn you that it really is in en Español!




TCM's Latino Images in Film Festival

After successful runs with their Asian Images in Film, Screened Out: Gay Images in Film and African-American Images in Film, Turner Classic Movies is giving my people their due with Latino Images in Film festival for the month of May. I have been super excited about this festival since I heard about it a few months ago on the TCM message boards. On Tuesday and Thursdays, TCM will air 5 films that deal touch upon Latino culture and issues. They also have a snazzy new site devoted to the festival (check it out here).

Why am I excited about this? Because I'm a Latina. I'm first generation American and my mother is 100% full-blooded Hispanic from the Dominican Republic. I am fluent in Spanish, I eat my arroz con habichuelas and have the cadera to prove it. What does it mean to be a Latina? For me it means maintaining the culture, learning about my heritage and embracing that Latina fire and passion that runs through my veins.

Classic films are predominantly Caucasian but it has been surprising to find out over the years how many films either have Latino characters or showcase Latino actors. With TCM's list of films for their festival, I have discovered even more!

In honor of Latino Images in Film, I'll be doing a month long series on this blog. For the first three weeks I'll be posting a review of one film on Mondays and Wednesdays before it airs the next day and will also include the following day's full schedule. I'll be reviewing a total of 6 films and all of them happen to be available on DVD just in case you don't have TCM. I hope this will encourage you to watch the films or at least be aware of the films that are out there. For the last week, I tentatively have planned a Latino Images in Film contest.

Each review will contain a summary, background information and what I think about the representation of Latinos in the film. I'll also include a rating level of "Brown Face". Brown face is what I call the Hispanic equivalent to Black face. This is when they take Caucasian actors and put some dark make-up on them to make them look more ethnic. They also used Mediterannean and olive-skinned European actors to look Latino and I also consider this a form of Brown face. I'll point out along the way the level of brown face in each film.

Disclaimer - I'm doing this purely because I want to and not because I was asked to.

I hope you'll enjoy the series!

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