“It also does a good job in showing the path by which Moreno learned his craft and perfected his Cantinflas character–all things that fans of these films should appreciate and enjoy.”
by Martin Hafer
Unless you are familiar with the Mexican phenomenon known as Cantinflas, before you watch this new bio-pic, you might just want to see a few of these films first so that you can appreciate their wonderful style and charm. They also might help you to understand why Charlie Chaplin raved about the man who created this character and referred to him as ‘the world’s greatest comedian’ as well as why they’ve chosen to make a film about his life.
Coincidentally, I recently wrote about some of my favorite international comedians of the 1940s and 50s–and one was the Mexican star, dubbed ‘Cantinflas’. Imagine my surprise when soon after I raved about the man that I learned that a new bio-pic has just been released about his life! Naturally, I had to see it and review it, as I really would love to see the man get his due outside his native land.
Unfortunately, Cantinflas is NOT the perfect film about Mario Moreno’s life and career in films. It seems to spend too much energy focusing on his performance in the Hollywood film Around the World in 80 Days and not nearly enough on his Mexican movies–which are clearly his best. While his role in Around the World did help to bring him to the attention of the American public, his career in Hollywood films would later turn out to be a flop–something that the film not only fails to mention but it strongly implies that his efforts in
American cinema were very successful. Likewise, the film tends to whitewash Moreno’s personal life at times and fails to show just how beloved the man was in his native land. Despite these flaws, the movie is still well worth seeing. Óscar Jaenada does a lovely job impersonating the late actor and the film is technically very well made. It also does a good job in showing the path by which Moreno learned his craft and perfected his Cantinflas character–all things that fans of these films should appreciate and enjoy. It also leaves you wanting to see more–something I’d strongly recommend. You might want to try a few of his later films, such as The Little Priest, El Bolero de Raquel, The Illiterate One or Su Exelencia, as they are excellent and, more importantly, are widely available on DVD since they were released by Columbia Pictures, unlike his earlier films.
Incidentally, Cantinflas is the official submission for Mexico for the Best Foreign Language Oscar. We’ll soon see if it’s among the few selected nominees for this award