Yesterday, I watched 5 full length feature films–my eyes came out as special effects, but it was well worth the time. Day Two of Film Noir 12 started with three films which featured the culture of Mexico as the background of the stories that were being told. The first film was an American view of Mexico, the second & third films were produced in Mexico, showing how Mexico sees it’s own reflection while peering in the cultural mirror as reflected & told in 1951.
The first film starred Ricardo Montalban–in English the film was released as BORDER INCIDENT, in Spanish, INCIDENT de FRONTIERE. Many aspects of this film are still very much a part of both cultures, that of the United States & of Mexico. In a general sense, those of us who live North of the Mexican border depend upon those who are born South of the Mexican border to do the work we don’t want to do–harvesting the crops that make the food for menus in fancy restaurants or food courts possible. Generally speaking, children born North don’t work, children born South, know nothing else but work. Can one imagine a child attending Beverly Hills High School having to work the fields on weekends? The film focuses on the illegal trafficking of human beings who end up working for menial wages. It’s a form of slavery, indentured servitude, that has thrived since the World War II era. Before that, California agribusiness was supplied with people who fled the droughts in Oklahoma. Now the Grapes of Wrath that are celebrated with artful wine labels with grapes grown in Napa Valley, and other areas, are harvested by mostly by agricultural workers from Mexico. The dynamics of the work force for this industry have not changed much since 1949, when this film was released. Time has only provided more complex levels of technology to aid and abet in the crime of human slavery & border enforcement against the illegalities ends up sort of like the war against drugs, a counter-productive effort that was designed only to allow the rich to win. It’s a lose-lose if you are brown & are born South of the fabled border.
YOU TUBE OF METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER’S VIEW OF MEXICO-1949
BORDER INCIDENT-Starring Ricardo Montalban & George Murphy.
Film Number Two dealt with a fraudulent fortune-teller. That’s sort of like having a fake Titian, and telling house guests that you got it from the Gallery down the street. Little matter how one may personally feel about the subject, seems like every small town North of the Border has at least one, ready, willing,and able to tell the unfortunate who have a need to know when their unemployment checks will end (and part of those checks go to support that need!). It seems they must thrive South too. One of my impoverished Grandmother’s managed to find money to pay one, just wonder if he told her that she’d end up poor & that her children would inherit the wind? In this film, the slime bag in question redeems himself in the end by giving some of his ill-gotten money to an illiterate woman whose son was killed in the Korean War. I had to go home & look up the role of Mexico in the Korean war–and you can read about this by searching–(http://www.historyrocket.com/American-History/timeline/1950-1999/korean-war/Roles-Of-Mexican-Americans-In-Korean-War.html). So, there was a history lesson there for us that was never taught in our North high schools. The main lesson this film has to offer is chicanery pays, but only in the short-term. The palm reader had beautiful hands–amazingly beautiful hands & I suppose that was appropriate. Maybe someday, I will make it to the Tenderloin, and pretend to want to know what the future has in store for me—“My child, you will be instrumental in the Restoration of the Greek Monarchy & go on to become a famous film star & Hollywood Royalty.”
YOU TUBE OF En la palma de tu mano (In The Palm Of Your Hand)-1951
The third film of the Mexican Trilogy was as hard-core & real as it gets. This one dealt with women whose work was not in the fields, but in the bed. The world’s oldest profession was explored without any hint of wink & nod, but with complete & unblinking candour that told of a slavery that was based upon women who had only one option to survive in a man’s world, and that was to sell their bodies as directed. Here we call their managers pimps–but the general idea is the same. The abuse & shame that went with this territory was not glossed over. The women had their night club dance acts as fronts, while the real money was made after the applause was over. They kept doctors in business with clap of a different meaning. The mistake of having a child, and the choice of keeping the child versus having a “career” was @ the core of this film’s plot. It was a vivid exploration of what happens after the Night Club closes. In the programme notes a quotation is recalled by André Breton, “In Europe we talk about surrealism, in Mexico they live it every day.”
YOU TUBE OF VICTIMS OF SIN/Víctimas del Pecado-1951
Surrealism from Mexcio