Sunday, June 24, 2018

Víctimas del pecado / Victims of Sin

 Víctimas del pecado / Victims of Sin. Poster from the IMDb where there is also a good photo gallery of the film.

Víctimas del pecado / Victims of Sin. Ninón Sevilla (Violeta).

Synnin uhrit / Victims of Sin / Vittime del peccato.
    Director: Emilio Fernández. Year: 1951. Country: Messico.
    Scen.: Emilio Fernández, Mauricio Magdaleno. F.: Gabriel Figueroa. M.: Gloria Schoemann. Mus.: Antonio Díaz Conde. Int.: Ninón Sevilla (Violeta), Tito Junco (Santiago), Rodolfo Acosta (Rodolfo), Ismael Pérez Poncianito (Juanito), Rita Montaner (Rita), Margarita Ceballos (Rosa), Francisco Reiguera (don Gonzalo). Prod.: Pedro Calderón, Guillermo Calderón per Producciones Calderón S. A. DCP. D.: 90’. Bn.
    M: Antonio Díaz Conde; canciones: "Pecadora" de Agustín Lara, "La Cocaleca", "Changoo", "Ay José", "El trenecito", "La diana", guajira "Váyase al monte" interpretadas por la Orquesta de Dámaso Pérez Prado.
    DCP from Cineteca Nacional México.
    Spanish and French version with English subtitles.
    Introduce José Maria Prado, hosted by Ehsan Khoshbakht.
    Viewed at Cinema Jolly, Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato (Cinema Rumbero / Recovered & Restored 2018), Sunday 24 June 2018

Miguel Marías (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "Despite its moralizing title, Victims of Sin is a magnificent, canonical Mexican melodrama (with several Cuban imports) of the ‘cabaretera’ subgenre, a daring, realistic and even cruelly dramatic tear-jerker thumbing its way through a series of disasters and injustices to what appears to be a really welcome happy ending, only to go on with further catastrophes until arriving, years later, at a (muted) happy conclusion. It is certainly not the most prestigious of Emilio Fernández’ films, and never will be, precisely because it is an unashamed melodrama, but it is arguably among the very best in his quite remarkable career."

"A heroic and even saintly rhumba dancer at the Changoo, turned street prostitute for having adopted an abandoned (in the garbage can!) new-born child, the character of Violeta (Ninón Sevilla) is not a passive and powerless victim, but a real, outspoken, rebellious fighter, capable of furiously defending herself and hitting the despicable pimp-gangster mercilessly, played (with relish) by Rodolfo Acosta, deservedly sending him to jail and finally killing him. Which sends her to jail and separation from her adopted kid."

"In the standard ninety minutes of a feature film, Fernández presents a series of events which could fill several seasons of any current Tv series, with an economy which at the time seemed quite normal, but today seems to be an outstanding feat, even a miracle. And he manages to integrate, functionally, several fantastic dance numbers, a song by the great Pedro Vargas (sitting at a table with an arm in a sling), and some mambo music by Pérez Prado and orchestra."

"Neither cynical nor a simple commercial women’s picture, but a tale, like Mizoguchi’s work, the film has a sincere compassion and sympathy for the prostitutes, whom Fernández probably knew well and liked, as his other prostitution / brothel films suggest (from Las abandonadas, The Abandoned, 1945, to Zona Roja, 1975-1976)." Miguel Marías

AA: An electrifying Mexican melodrama, Emilio Fernández and his cast and crew at the top of their game.

A passionate musical, cabaretera, rumbera. There is true abandon in the singing and dancing numbers, a special fury and uninhibited joy in the performances. A soundtrack album would be worth listening to. At least I'd like to find a soundtrack listing. Miguel Marías in his program note singles out Pedro Vargas and Pérez Prado.

It is the survival story of Violeta the passionate rhumba dancer among cabaret keepers and gangsters. In this movie women are the dynamic characters. But they are also of the violence and neglect of men. Violeta finally kills the evil Rodolfo, but her main driving force is love, directed to the orphan baby Juanito whom she has rescued from a garbage can in the red light district of the city.

The cinematography of Gabriel Figueroa is stunning, especially in the sequence on the railway bridge where Violeta pauses for a long time to examine the desolate bar of the railway people called La Machina Loca ("The Crazy Engine"). It is a sequence worthy of Le Jour se lève.

Emilio Fernández is a master of the melodramatic mode. There is a fine sense of control in the abandon, the passion, and the violence. A film full of fire, and also a sense of humour (the "Ay! José" number).

The fine digital transfer by Cineteca Nacional México does justice to Gabriel Figueroa's cinematography.

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