LA MUJER DEL PUERTO (WOMAN OF THE PORT)
Directed by Arcady Boytler
76 minutes, 35mm, Black and White
STARRING: Andrea Palma (Rosario), Domingo Soler (Alberto Venegas), Fabio Acevedo (Don Antonio), Antonio Polo (Don Basilio), Francisco Zárraga (fiancè of Rosario)
Thursday, October 4th,
seating starts at 7:30PM, film starts at 8:00PMMexican-American Cultural Center
600 River Street, Austin, TX 78701-4218
Free admission. Mature audiences.
Some seating will be available. Feel free to bring your favorite camping chair or blanket.
Click here to watch the trailer.
REVIEWS AND COMMENTARY
“The first national movie which truly deserves the qualification of excellent” Luz Alba, Actress
“Captivating and sensitive atmosphere” Georges Sadoul, Film Journalist
“In 1933 Mexican Film Production was at the forefront of Spanish-language moviemaking with 21 feature films, including LA MUJER DEL PUERTO.” - Carl J. Mora, MEXICAN CINEMA Reflections of a Society 1896-1980
ABOUT THE FILM
The extravagant melodrama program closes Thursday, October 4th with LA MUJER DEL PUERTO (1934) a film that keeps the tragic plot twists coming through to the very end. In our first film of the series, AVENTURERA, our heroine is tricked into life as a prostitute and goes to spectacular lengths to seek revenge. Then, in VICTIMAS DEL PECADO, introducing an abandoned child into our heroine’s life at the brothel/cabaret heightens the melodrama. How can LA MUJER DEL PUERTO top the sensationalism of the previous films?
Andrea Palma, who played the Madame who helped lure Ninon Sevilla’s character into a life of sin in AVENTURERA, takes her turn as our heroine playing the ill-fated young Rosario in LA MUJER DEL PUERTO.
LA MUJER DEL PUERTO is the story of Rosario, a young woman who lives with her father, a humble carpenter for the local mortuary. After her father dies and she discovers her lover's indiscretions, Rosario, played by the exquisite Andrea Palma, is shunned by her neighbors and left to fend for herself.
Rosario leaves her town for Veracruz, takes residence above a cabaret and resorts to prostitution "to please the men who come from the sea." Director Arcady Boytler employs Soviet montage techniques that help illustrate a certain amount of time passing and we see Rosario becoming resigned to life in the red light district. Rosario becomes well known as “La mujer del puerto” in the port of Veracruz.
Then one night sailor Alberto Venegas (Domingo Soler) saves Rosario from an attack on the docks. She takes Alberto home for an erotic encounter and love blossoms. Just when we think Rosario has a chance at happiness with a true soul mate a terrible secret from the past suddenly comes to light.
Palma’s performance as Rosario has been called “mythic and iconic.” We see Rosario at her happiest and then, too, as she experiences betrayal, grief, humiliation and extreme loneliness. Rosario is a standout at the cabaret. Striking yet aloof, she haunts the port with her ghostly gait. Like the heroines in the preceding films in this program Rosario is not just a victim - for better or worse she is the decider of her ultimate path.
LA MUJER DEL PUERTO was loosely adapted from Guy de Maupassant’s short story “Le Port” and Leo Tolstoy’s “Resurrection.” It has the eternal appeal of Classic Greek or Shakespearean tragedies. Screenwriters Antonio Guzmán Aguilera and Raphael J. Sevilla (also assistant director,) are credited with infusing Mexican flavor by setting the story in the port of Veracruz during carnival time.
Boytler exhibits in LA MUJER DEL PUERTO a strong influence from the German Expressionist school, which originally made its mark in the European film industry in the 1920s and 1930s. The scenery, light and shadows were carefully crafted to enhance the mood of the film, characteristics that typify Expressionism. The Expressionist school of filmmaking made its way to the U.S. during WWII when many German filmmakers fleeing the war immigrated to Hollywood. Their techniques had a profound effect on filmmaking around the world. One of the genres most influenced by Expressionism was Film Noir. Although the term Film Noir was first used by a French critic to categorize a style that emerged out of U.S. cinema in the mid 1940s, because of the influence of Expressionism in LA MUJER DEL PUERTO one can arguably categorize this film as a Film Noir in retrospect.
Alex Phillips' dark and atmospheric cinematography captivates. The beautiful contrasts of light and shadows perfectly frames Rosario's tragic story. As Rosario’s becomes more lonely and unhappy, the picture becomes darker. The emphasis is on the shadows as Rosario’s life turns to dark - her black dress, dark nights, and dark sea. The atmospheric quality of the film intensifies until the end when Rosario ultimately frees her self from further misfortune.
These were the first starring film roles for both Andrea Palma and Domingo Soler. With a powerful presence both commanding and charming, Soler owns every shot he is in. Soler had roles in approximately 153 other films until a fatal heart attack claimed his life in 1961. His brothers Andres, Fernando and Julian were all prolific actors, directors, producers and/or screenwriters.
LA MUJER DEL PUERTO was one of the first movies with recorded sound in the Mexican film industry. It was remade four times, the most recent was in 1991 by director Arturo Ripstein.
ABOUT ANDREA PALMA
Andrea Palma was born Guadalupe Bracho Gavilán in Durango, Mexico in 1901. She was interested in theater and fashion and in the early 1920s opened a hat shop and called it Casa Andrea. She took the name Andrea (and Palma from one of her clients) as a stage name. After a big break in the theater she closed the shop and traveled to the U.S. with the theater company where she stayed until the early 1930s. She had small roles in the films of her cousins, fellow actors Dolores Del Rio and Ramon Novarro but eventually returned to Mexico where her film career would eventually flourish. Palma was 32 when she played her first leading film role as the young Rosario in LA MUJER DEL PUERTO. The film was a popular and critical success that made her suddenly famous. Palma was considered the great diva of Mexican Cinema until her cousin Dolores Del Rio claimed the title. Many remark on Palma’s resemblance to Marlene Dietrich. While she lived in Hollywood the two became friends after Palma was hired to style Dietrich’s make-up and hats when the German actress first arrived in Hollywood from Germany.
ABOUT ARCADY BOYTLER
Arcady Boytler was born in Moscow, Russia in 1890. He was influenced by authors Leo Tolstoy, Guy de Mauppassant, Bernard Shaw, playwright William Shakespeare and also by his teacher, legendary theater director Konstantin Stanislavsky. Before settling in Mexico Boytler worked in Germany, Chile and the U.S. Upon arriving in Mexico, Boytler met fellow Russian Sergei Eisenstein while Eisenstein was shooting QUE VIVA MEXICO! (1932.) Boytler employs Eisentein’s Soviet montage techniques in LA MUJER DEL PUERTO, which he learned by studying Eisenstein’s work. Boytler was nicknamed "the Russian Rooster" when he came to Mexico. Although LA MUJER DEL PUERTO is considered his most important work, other remarkable contributions include two of comedy icon Cantinflas’ debut films ¡Así es mi tierra! (1937) and Águila o sol (1938). Boytler died in the Mexican Federal District of heart disease in 1965.
- Jacqueline Rush Rivera, Director of Programming, Cine Las Americas.
DIRECTOR ARCADY BOYTLER’S SELECTED FILMOGRAPHY
Amor prohibido (1945)
Capitán aventurero, El (1939)
Águila o sol (1938)
¡Así es mi tierra! (1937)
Tesoro de Pancho Villa, El (1935)
Mujer del puerto, La (1934)
Revista musical (1934)
Piramides de la luna y el sol (1933)
Espectador impertinente, El (1932)
Mano a mano (1932)
Arcady Boytler - Director, Raphael J. Sevilla - Director / Writer, Antonio Guzmán Aguilera - Writer (also dialogue), Carlos de Nájera - Writer (dialogue), Leo Tolstoy - Writer (story "Resurrection"), Guy de Maupassant - Writer (story "Le Port"), Servando C. de la Garza - Producer, Alex Phillips - Cinematographer, Max Urban - Composer, José Marino Editor, Art Director - Fernando A. Rivero, Assistant Director - Ricardo Beltri, Sound -José B. Carles, Visual Effects - Salvador Pruneda, Technical Director - Raphael J. Sevilla, Production Company - Eurindia Films
Andrea Palma (Rosario), Domingo Soler (Alberto Venegas), Fabio Acevedo (Don Antonio), Antonio Polo (Don Basilio), Francisco Zárraga (fiancè of Rosario), Lina Boitler (woman that sings), Segarra Consolation (Doña Lupe, neighbor), Luisa Obregón (neighbor), Elisa Soler (neighbor), Gentile Conchita Arcs (neighboring), Julieta Palavicini (lover of the fiancè), Joaquin Busquets (drunk sailor), Arturo Manrique “Panseco” (Argentine sailor), Jorge Treviño “Panqué” (North American sailor), Roberto Cantú Robert (Cuban sailor)