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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD region 2. Mr Bongo Films.

SusanaThe second of Mr Bongo Films’ new Luis Bunuel releases (the other being The Brute), this 1951 melodrama is a wonderfully lurid story of hypocrisy, showing how a civilised family can be brought to the point of collapse by the introduction of one pretty girl.

The girl in question is Susana (Rosita Quintana), who we see affecting the most unlikely of escapes from reform school in the opening scenes. On the run during a ferocious storm, she ends up at the ranch of Don Guadalupe, and is taken in by the unsuspecting family as a servant. But this sexy, provocative girl soons becomes the object of attention for Guadalupe, his son Alberto (Luis Lopez Somosa) and ranchhand Jesus (Victor Manuel Mendoza) as she plays each off against the other, slowly putting herself in a position of power to take over from Guadalupe’s wife Carmen (Matilde Palou).

SusanaAlso known as Devil in the Flesh, this is ripe stuff – from the overly dramatic soundtrack to the hilariously unconvincing bat we see hanging from the window of the incredibly dank cell that Susana escapes from, there is no room for subtlety here – except, perhaps, in the sly subtext that shows just how a God-fearing, respectable family can be brought down by their baser urges. It's something we've seen enough times in real life as moralising politicians and preachers are caught with their pants down.

Quintana is perfect as Susana – at once seductive and innocent, she uses her considerable female charms to seduce the men without even trying. I’d say she isn’t such a bad sort, really – just a girl looking to get on in the world (we don’t know why she’s in reform school, but you imagine it was for moral crimes of one sort or another rather than anything bad). The ‘happy’ ending seems forced (and probably was, due to the period the film was made in), and you rather suspect that Bunuel’s sympathies lie with his seductive sex kitten rather than the upright and often quite unpleasant characters she brings to ruin.

The DVD print is a little soft and has some damage on display, but I’m imagining that this is as good as you’ll ever get to see the film. And see it you should!





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