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Hecho por México: The Films of Gabriel Figueroa

Wednesday, August 6, 2008
6:30 p.m. Victims of Sin
Emilio Fernández (Mexico, 1950)

PFA Collection Print


(Victimas del pecado). Classic Mexican melodrama shows us that the excesses of Luis Buñuel and Arturo Ripstein did not come out of nowhere. Victims of Sin is a tour de force for Ninón Sevilla, rumba dancer and, incidentally, an over-the-top actress. She portrays a cabaret dancer trying to raise an abandoned kid and forced into prostitution. “Victims of the Social Structure” doesn’t make a very good title, but that’s what it’s all about, albeit exploited to the point of high camp, in the entertaining film musicals known as rumberas. Rodolfo Acosta is Sevilla’s zoot-suited artistic director/pimp (a jerk, but what a dancer!), while Tito Junco as her enigmatic would-be savior walks the streets with his sorrows and ever-present mariachi sounds in tow. With all this, plus the rhythms of Perez Prado and urban chanteuse Rita Montaner, Figueroa’s fabulous framing and lighting in a film noir vein are like the icing on the little brat’s cake.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Mauricio Magdaleno, Fernández. Photographed by Gabriel Figueroa. With Rodolfo Acosta, Ninón Sevilla, Tito Junco, Rita Montaner. (81 mins, In Spanish with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, PFA Collection)