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One of the most popular Mexican films ever made, the cult sensation Aventurera is a famous example of a cabareteras, a curious film noir and musical hybrid wildly popular in Mexico in the '40s and '50s. Starring the immortal Ninon Sevilla, who Variety called "a cross between Rita Hayworth and Carmen Miranda," the film follows the melodramatic rise and fall of a popular nightclub star with a dark past. Newly remastered. In Spanish Alberto Gout---Mexico---1950---101 mins.
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Top Customer Reviews
Back to the movie, it begins extremely campy and continues on in that fashion for some time, but the quick ending has more subtle and delightful noirish turns of fate than any film I can remember. I wouldn't dare spoil it for you. The story is well developed, the acting is above average, and the scenes are produced professionally. The (melo-) dramatic segments are framed by lovely little urban shots of Chihuahua, Juarez, and México cities, as well as some jazzy Latin dance numbers, giving the viewer nice breaks. Personally my favorite number was the Samba one, performed in Portuguese. If it was in color it would have been as spectacular as those from Singin' in the Rain.
Cuban immigrant Ninón Sevilla stars.Read more ›
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This review is dedicated to my dear friend Rosalind Scott, who would have loved this film!
Back to the movie, it begins extremely campy and continues on in that fashion for some time, but the quick ending has more subtle and delightful noirish turns of fate than any film I can remember. I wouldn't dare spoil it for you. The story is well developed, the acting is above average, and the scenes are produced professionally. The (melo-) dramatic segments are framed by lovely little urban shots of Chihuahua, Juarez, and M?xico cities, as well as some jazzy Latin dance numbers, giving the viewer nice breaks. Personally my favorite number was the Samba one, performed in Portuguese. If it was in color it would have been as spectacular as those from Singin' in the Rain.
Cuban immigrant Nin?n Sevilla stars. Unlike most of her fellow cubano immigrants to Mexico, and despite her platinum hairdo, Sevilla's ancestry definitely seems to tend towards the Afro-Cuban variety. She gives a wonderful performance and brings a buxom star-powered presence to the film. Mexican film aficionados will note that the villainess is played by none other than Andrea Palma, who starred in the 1934 film La Mujer del Puerto. Mexican super-regular Miguel Incl?n (Dona Barbara, Mar?a Candelaria, Enamorada, Fort Apache, Los Olvidados, etc etc etc) gives a subtle but satisfying performance as the reluctant verdugo/enforcer Rengo.
Certainly this film is a bit overrated and overhyped, but it grows on you. While some of it seems clich?, so does the Godfather, because it was so often copied. Expectations mean so much when watching a film. Keep them within reason and you might be pleasantly surprised by Aventurera before it's over. It reminds me just a bit of Gilda (1946), and obviously came right on the heels of Emilio Fernandez's Salon Mexico (1949). The sleazy border scenes also seemed to remind me of Touch of Evil. I think it certainly compares favorably with other films of the era like Key Largo, All About Eve, or Nights of Cabiria. Definitely worth checking out.
several movies interwoven in one. The only thing you need concentrate
on is the incandescent presence of Ninon Sevilla in the title role as
Elena Tejero, first an obedient middle class daughter wearing horrid
plaid dresses and retarded hairdos that suddenly falls into hard times
and her work/career runs the gamut quickly from secretary/waitress to
This is a film you will never forget if only
because the intense gesturing and posturing (there is no acting here)
of Ninon Sevilla is too delicious for words, it needs to be seen, and
several times, to be appreciated. I will summarize by stating that her
first cabaret appearance is directly related to the "ritual oriental
dance" that was a sleazy feature of adventure/film noir and even horror
movies since the days of Pola Negri in "The Eyes of the Mummy", which I
believe is the first one.
The Oriental dance here is set in never-never
Arabia, with polyester harem pants, for the girls, false beards for the
lascivious men in the marketplace that tug at Ninon's curvaceous forms.
Her outfit is not to be missed: A square box hat-turban combination, a
necklace of many false karats and veils a plenty. Her orientalized
movements are hilarious and jerky, but her sensuality and raw animal
charisma comes through to save the day, and I am sure the appreciative
male audience back then rewarded this performance with far more
erections than laughter. But this is nothing compared to her "Tropical"
number which will follow later. We first see Ninon in her dressing room
nonchalantly supporting a headress that consists of two full pineapples
with branches and leaves on her head. Although she looks like a giant
insect that has sprouted antenna, she acts and moves so convincingly as
the "cabaretera" that we start to think this is normal, then she jumps
into her elaborate Brazillian number, heavily influenced by Carmen
Miranda and in the midst of a cloud of fog her headress is transformed
into a basket of bananas with foil accents that are just too divine for
You can imagine that this flaming volcano of a dancer would
naturally attract as a husband an ultra conservative, nerdish lawyer
(Ruben Rojo as Mario Cervera) from one of "the best families in
Guadalajara" which here in the States would have translated as a
Republican from a Texas oil clan. He also happens to be the son of a
the "evil" woman that owns the cabaret where Elena was transformed from
studious secretary into dancing harlot. This middle aged woman
character, Rosaura Cervera (played by Andrea Palma) is so outlandish,
yet believable when one thinks that she anticipated the Mayflower Madam
in Manhattan by almost half a century, that it deserves a study of its
own, not to mention a seminar for split personality experts. Her
demeanor and looks is that of a Latin Marlene Dietrich, cigarette
holder included, and she is obviously Elena's nemesis. Their double
entendre conversations from the moment they meet again as 'decent'
women are the blueprint of drag queen competition dialogues,
accompanied by a cavalcade of sudden tragic expressions, fits of
fluttering from multi-leveled eye-lashes, twisting of the mouths into
serpent-like lip acrobatics, all of which could turn plumbers into
female impersonators if adequately imitated with patient study, which
actually makes this film a true primer for drag studies.
There are many more twists and turn to the story which includes a film-noir jewelry
heist, the unbridled passion of an escaped criminal, a murderous,
deformed, yet loyal friend of Elena's, and so much more excitement than
this summary could possibly describe. An extraordinary creation of
kitsch that anticipates Latin soap operas by a generation, this is a
groundbreaking document of B cinema, film noir and gender studies.
What was there to enjoy about this film? Outside of the painful moments mentioned above, the characters were rich, the story was disturbingly dark, and the twists came from every angle, nearly a mile-a-minute. This was an action packed thriller that would have left little time for comfort had it not been for those songs. There were people we couldn't trust, people that we did - but betrayed us, there were scandals, there were loves, there were blackmails - everything was in place for a solid film. Even the subtitles were strong, giving us a strong plot and easily following structures, but those songs - ARG! I digress, Ninon Sevilla portrayed Elena as this no-nonsense girl who wasn't afraid to show her emotion and be the one to take the lead. Videohound's Independent Film Guide quotes, "Before we saw it ["Aventurera"], we'd never heard of its star, Ninon Sevilla, and now we can't wait to see some of her other movies...", and I couldn't agree further. She captured the audience through the screen. We followed her, willingly or unwillingly, we kept our eyes close on her every move, wondering when her next big move was being planned or what cog we were going to witness in her overall master plan. She made this film exciting. Sevilla could even sing and dance, and while it was a distraction from the film, she was graceful and elegant in the way that she did it. I cannot fault her, only the choice of the creators.
Speaking of the creators (awesome segway), compliments must also be awarded to the writer and director of this film. Sans the dancing and singing, this is a strong unknown entry into the world of foreign noir. The story was tight; the tension between the actors felt real, and the construction of the story seemed solid. There were elements that felt too lightly handled, but when it came to the big bang moments, the team behind this film had no problem showing us their goods. "Aventurera" shocked me, much like other films from the 40s, with its dark sexual undertones. From the beginning of our film, we are introduced to infidelity and prostitution, and the bus doesn't stop there. This pushed the boundaries for this film and demonstrated a darker side of noir that reminded me of an early American noir feature entitled "Detour". Just like Ulmer, the creators of "Aventurera" have no issues with showing us poverty, and how the corrupt value of money can spark even the slightest greed in any heroine. On a side note, I especially enjoyed the portrait of Rengo, this crippled sidekick that steps out of the shadows for his heart. "Aventurera" is a very suspenseful film, and was able to keep this audience right at the edge of my seat.
Overall, this isn't a perfect film. This is a noir film from the top to the bottom, but in the middle there is a muddled murkiness that doesn't seem to fit and was added just to appeal to a masculine audience. If I have said it before, I will say it again; the song and dance numbers were destructive to this feature. They felt like commercials, interrupting key moments with breaks, only to return with this viewer feeling less excited about the future. There is one song which Sevilla wears bananas while dancing which brought me into a frustrating sweat due to its similarities to a horrid pseudo-documentary entitled, "Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business". This was the only moment where "Aventurera" felt stale and cliché. Was this overplayed Spanish-speaking cliché used only because it wanted to assure American audiences that they were in Mexico? Again, I cannot sit here and say that I loved everything about this film, because it would be a lie. I loved the juxtaposition between Sevilla and her arch rival, Rosaura (played by Andrea Palma) - their scene shot sparks from my DVD player. The characters are worth viewing this film once, maybe twice, but the songs are fast-forward-able. I can suggest it. See how dark in the late 1940s were for those living in Guadalajara.
Grade: *** ½ out of *****
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