DVD region 2. Mr Bongo Films.
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
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
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!
IT NOW (UK)
IT NOW (USA)