Saturday, November 25, 2017

El (1953). Reviews. IMDb. Retrieved from

  29 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
  The Discreet Charm of the Jealousy.
  Author: rudronriver from Spain
  24 March 2005

  As his most technically accomplished Mexican-period movie, and almost a mainstream one, this film can be an enjoyable first introduction into Buñuel’s obsessions: the same ones that ruled the surrealistic movement. The underground psychological streams in the mind are finely expressed in this story of a pathological jealous and his victim. In his Mexican exile, Buñuel was forced to make “nourishing movies”, that were the most conventional ones in his filmography, but he managed to smuggle his surrealistic ideals into all of them (even he could make the absolutely surrealistic “The Exterminating Angel”).
  Based on an autobiographic novel by Spanish fellow countrywoman Mercedes Pinto, this film is the vehicle for displaying many marvelous surreal moments. It can also be viewed as a brilliant clinical recreation of paranoid distress, but Buñuel recognized that the protagonist, Francisco Galván, although insane, had many of his own obsessions: his view of love as an absolute imperative, the violent impulses, the fetishism for female feet… The story shifts from one point of view to another, which is the only way to understand the “two stories” in psychotic disorders.
  Part of the story and many of the ideas were used later by Hitchcock for his masterpiece “Vertigo (From among the dead)”. It is difficult to say plagiarism when talking about cinema, but this would be one occasion for it. It is not coincidence that both directors share a taste for the expressive properties of objects (not only as Macguffin); as two reluctantly catholic directors, objects usually act as “sacraments” for their narrative. In “El” the church and its symbols are the background for the repression and the blooming of instincts; other Buñuel’s stories may be more connected with religion than this one, but “El” shows a life absolutely permeated by the relationship of primary impulses (“eros” and “thanatos”) with spiritual transcend ency. With churches as the setting of the key moments of the story (desire, love encounter, the urge for murder, disappointment), church is at the beginning and the ending of this story narrated by the man who said “Thank God, I’m an atheist”.
  Although was filmed in three weeks, in the midst of the limitations of Mexican film industry, the movie is close to perfection in formal terms. In contrast with his previous movies, in which a still camera was predominant, in this one the camera movements are constant. The performances and the choice of cast is the most accurate of the Buñuel’s Mexican-period.
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  15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
  The green monster rears its ugly head
  Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
  11 February 2002
  *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  El is similar in style to other productions made by Bunuel in Mexico. It reminded me of both Los Olvidados and Nazarin. Unlike in the early or late films, the style is more realistic and more akin to melodrama. In fact, all three of these films each contain a single surrealist scene. Los Olvidados has the dream, Nazarin has the fantasy where the wife bites off her husband’s lower lip, and El has, well, El’s surrealist moment comes near the end and is too good to give away. If you’ve seen the film, I’m sure you know to what I refer.
  El can be divided up into three easily identifiable sections, each about a half-hour each. The first is told from the point of view of an aristocrat who catches sight of a beautiful woman in church. It’s love at first sight, but he soon finds out that she is the wife of a friend of his. At this point, I was fully expecting a cheapy adulterous romance picture, a soap opera. That was the genre that was dominating Mexican cinemas at the time. Luckily, the film doesn’t follow a predictable route. There is at this point an elipsis of time, as that first man runs into the woman. He innocently offers her a ride home. Grudgingly, she accepts. On the ride home, she tells him of how her husband’s jealously is destroying her. He’s an extremely paranoid man, and he has actually threatened to murder her on two separate occasions. She finds opposition everywhere as she is looking for help. The third section of the film is told from the point of view of the husband. His jealousy is starting to lead him off a cliff. The title of the film actually refers to him. “El” is the masculine, singular, definite article in Spanish.
  Bunuel had a gift for endings. El’s is as good as that of Nazarin or Viridiana. By the way, a bit of trivia about that final image: the actor in the cloak at the end of the film, walking down the path, is not the same one who played Francisco in the rest of the film. It’s Bunuel. 9/10.

  13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
  A treat from Bunuel’s Mexican period
  Author: craigjclark from Haddonfield, NJ
  20 November 2005
  Made in 1952, between “Robinson Crusoe” and “Wuthering Heights,” this may not be one of Bunuel’s major films, but it contains several of his key themes and recurring images, starting with the ceremonial washing and kissing of feet. The film also goes into the politics of submission and domination, the effects of long-term sexual repression, and -- of course -- sewing.
  Bunuel understood obsession and was able to convey it on screen like no other director. As irrational as his characters can get (and Francisco gets plenty irrational in this film), Bunuel knows that we all have our hangups which seem normal to us, no matter how grotesque they may look to an outside viewer. (There’s a reason why the alternate title for this film is “This Strange Passion.”)
  15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
  The masterpiece of Bunuel’s Mexican period
  Author: matthew wilder ( from los angeles
  19 August 2001
  This tale of a pathologically jealous husband, whose delusions of cuckoldry teeter over the edge into madness, ranks with BELLE DE JOUR and the early surrealist films as the first rank of the Bunuel canon. The ending, which has audiences screaming out loud in a mixture of gruesome delight and horror, would probably drive Brian DePalma to death by alcohol if he saw it. Brian, don’t watch, okay?
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  13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
  EL (1952)/THE CRIMINAL LIFE OF ARCHIBALDO DE LA CRUZ (1955) - Films Sans Frontieres DVD Review
  Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
  13 June 2004

  Following your advice, I recently ‘relented’ to buying from Alapage the two Luis Bunuel Double-Feature discs released in France by Film Sans Frontieres. After watching them in their entirety, I cannot believe that I, who consider Bunuel my all-time favorite director and one of the true masters of the medium, have waited this long to acquire these DVDs. Actually while Alapage listed these DVDs at EUR25.73 on their site, they only cost me EUR21.51 each (excluding EUR12 shipping charges). So, if there is still anybody who has not purchased them yet, now may be the time to do so!
  Since I had never watched EL (1952) before, it was the first one to go through my DVD player. It was a chilling parable of an insanely jealous middle-aged man played with acute intensity by Arturo De Cordova. It afforded Bunuel ample opportunity to make practical use of overt Freudian symbolism without lending the film a heavy-handed air of pretentiousness. While there are some critics who consider it as merely ‘an engaging, minor work’, I regard it as being among Bunuel’s finest; arguably, with this film, Bunuel reached the culmination of his work in Mexico, but it also looks forward to similar sequences and themes he would tackle later on in his career, especially TRISTANA (1970) and, his last film, THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE (1977).
  EL was beautifully abetted by another of his low-budget Mexican films, the great black comedy THE CRIMINAL LIFE OF ARCHIBALDO DE LA CRUZ (1955). Again, critical reception was a bit muted in some circles, dismissing it as ‘just a throwaway oddity’ typical of Bunuel’s films of the period. However, it is much more than that: it is certainly very funny if you can accept its macabre sense of humor. It allowed Bunuel to create some of the most memorable images in all of his films, especially the celebrated dummy incineration scene, which could have been “inspired” by a similar scene in Michael Curtiz’s marvelous MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM (1933) which Bunuel must have seen while working at Warner Bros. in the Thirties. A similar instance of this eclectic approach on Bunuel’s part can be found in the “walking hand” sequence in his THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL (1962) - one of my favorite Bunuels - which harks back to an identical premise in Robert Florey’s THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS (1946), another Warner Bros. horror melodrama. For me, one of the enduring assets of THE CRIMINAL LIFE OF ARCHIBALDO DE LA CRUZ is the charm and great beauty that was Miroslava Stern (who played the part of Lavinia and was the model for the ill-fated dummy). Tragically, she would take her own life a mere two weeks after the film’s release with her body, ironically enough, ending up cremated!
  Both the print utilized and the transfer for both films were adequate enough, and perfectly acceptable under the circumstances. However, EL’s overall visual and aural qualities where distinctly superior to those of ARCHIBALDO which suffered from excessive specks and slight audio dropouts at times, but were never so alarming as to dispel from one’s viewing pleasure of the film.
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  9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
El (1953) ***
Author: JoeKarlosi from U.S.A.
29 August 2006
This was the first film I decided to watch from director Luis Bunuel and I had no idea what to expect from EL going into it, but it really intrigued me in different ways -- not only with the general story, but also in the visual style with which it was realized. There were surprises at every turn, and the acting by the leading man Arturo de Cordova was superb. What began as a pretty standard-looking (though nicely photographed) soap opera wound up transforming into a striking melodrama with some oddly disturbing moments. I don’t know how indicative this one movie is of Luis Bunuel’s general approach, but if the others are anywhere near as interesting, I look forward to trying them out. He seems ahead of his time, judging by this film.

*** out of ****
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  5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
  Probably best watched after Archibaldo....
  Author: christopher-underwood from United Kingdom
  23 August 2008

  Although slightly more melodramatic, I feel this does have the edge over the later, ‘Criminal Life of Archibaldo de La Cruz’, which covers similar territory with more humour. A gripping and frightening tale of obsession that has a surprisingly large amount of echoes of Hitchcock’s later, ‘Vertigo’ and seemingly that director took the bell tower sequence in its entirety. Still, who cares, great films remain great films, even when their inspiration may be revealed. The ending is low key but we are left in little doubt as to the state of mind of our hero/villain. Great performances help what might have seemed a preposterous tale, ring only too true. Probably best watched after Archibaldo, then the impact will be all the more great.
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  7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
  Sick Jealousy and Paranoia
  Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  21 April 2010
  In Mexico, the wealthy, religious and leery middle-aged Francisco Galván (Arturo de Córdova) is battling in the justice to retrieve the possession of real-estates that belonged to his ancestors in the beginning of the Twentieth Century. When he sees the young Gloria Milalta (Delia Garcés) in the church, he becomes obsessed by the woman, unsuccessfully courting and stalking her. He follows her and sees Gloria with her fiancé and his acquaintance, the engineer Raul Conde, having lunch in a restaurant. Francisco schedules a ball in his mansion and invites Raul and along the night, he seduces Gloria. They get married and in the honeymoon, Gloria discovers that Francisco is virgin and has a sick jealousy for her. Along the years, the emotionally unbalanced Francisco oscillates between a passionate husband and a disturbed paranoid until the day Gloria leaves him and he has a mental breakdown.
  “El” is a very simple and melodramatic film of Luis Buñuel about sick jealousy and paranoia. The plot shows the usual trademark of this great director, with religious element and the surrealistic paranoia of the lead character in the church, but is not original like most of his features. Arturo de Córdova and Delia Garcés have stunning performances, giving credibility to their characters. My vote is eight.
  Title (Brazil): “O Alucinado” (“The Hallucinated One”)
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  3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
  Luis Buñuel: “A paranoiac, like a poet, is born, not made”,
  Author: Galina from Virginia, USA
  26 October 2007
  *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  “El” (1953) aka “This Strange Passion/Torments” is more disturbing than funny portrait of an aristocrat, Francisco Galvan de Montemayor (Arturo de Cordova), attractive, rich, religious middle-aged man who goes from courteous and reasonable to possessive, suspicious, and finally to completely insane because of his pathological jealousy. What he decided to do to his young wife Gloria (Delia Garcés) to punish her for and prevent himself from the acts of infidelity that she had committed strictly in his mind, is very scary. Of course, it is Bunuel and the film has as much drama as his typical irony and dark humor but the film is very dark and unsettling. This is nothing light about obsessions - jealousy is an incurable and insatiable “monster with green eyes”
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  2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
  classic Bunuel
  Author: Armand from Romania
  17 February 2013
  cold, strange, cruel. like majority of Bunuel films. a window to darkness. and too realistic to be only shadow of fiction. it is a good film. and, in many senses, picture of our time. the ball of paranoia and love as scary, the need to control and menace, the desire and the series of masks, the fragility and the madness as form of control, all is, piece by piece, ingredient of our society. this is the secret for who the movie remains impressive. and for who the genius of its director is basis for an inspired art circle. it is a definition of happiness search. and proof of a splendid science of details. a story. and result of an entomologist observations. is it enough ? sure. in measure to be one of the characters.

  2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
  El (1953)
  Author: Martin Teller from Portland OR
  4 January 2012

  One of Bunuel’s best films, and certainly the finest of his lesser-known work. An intense, gripping study of a man who goes from merely asshole to outright insane, perhaps driven just a bit by his fondness for feet (the film’s alternate title is “This Strange Passion”). In a powerhouse performance by Arturo de Cordova, Francisco is jealous, irrational, impulsive, self-centered, paranoid, delusional, megalomaniacal, misanthropic and sadistic. Bunuel leaves it up to the viewer to imagine what he’s doing to Julia as we hear her tormented screams echo through the mansion... or what he has in mind when he sneaks into her room with a rope, a razor blade and a pair of scissors. Bunuel isn’t known for flashy cinematography, but he always knows exactly where to place the camera, and the film’s visual style gets more and more noir-ish as Francisco descends deeper into his obsessive madness. There’s a subversive quality and almost a black comedy to it, like a Wyler melodrama with a perverted twist. The film begins and ends in a church, a symbol of sexual repression and false ideals, and the brilliant final shot suggests how much it feeds into Francisco’s psychosis.
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  1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
  story of jealousy
  Author: Kirpianuscus from Romania
  24 May 2016
  a story of jealousy. the context, the acting, the script does it credible. Bunuel does it fantastic. because, like each of his films, El is a trip in the heart of reality. the humor and tension and plot are tools of entomologist. the irony becomes cold instrument for define the fall of a man for who desire and love are pillars of personal hell. a film who gives portrait of society more than a case from many. and that does El seductive. because it is, in many moments, the story of the viewer. crumbs from ordinary events, gestures who seems be ordinaries. the fear who change entire life. and the solution who could be too realistic for ignore it. a film about love. in its darkness’ sides.
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  1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
  Jealousy, obsession and madness.
  Author: psagray from Spain
  17 April 2013
  This is one of the best films of Buñuel. It’s a tremendous story for its theme advanced by the time it was filmed. A beautiful woman “Gloria Milalta” knows “Francisco Galvan de Montemayor” just before marriage and falls for him. Break the previous commitment to marry his new love is a handsome, educated and good living. So far everything would be perfect, if not for one small detail: “Francisco” is not what seemed to be. Jealousy transforms him into a being obsessive and paranoid, which only sees the murder and mutilation as a solution to his madness.
  It’s fantastic Buñuel film. He’s a director who is characterized by the symbolism of his films, but though paradoxically he often denied some of those interpretations. “El” is a relatively simple story about how crazy jealousy to a man because of his religious fervor and his way to suppress their feelings. The criticism of religion, and the church at times (with the ridiculous character of the priest), is again present, but better here than in “Viridiana” (1961).
  “El” is a very visual story, in which style prevails Buñuel’s surreal and hallucinatory, this time more discreet. That style is seen in the way in which the images of the film seem more subjective and more deformed as the protagonist is losing his mind. This is clearly seen in the first scene where “Francisco” suspected infidelity of his wife, when a lateral plane passed them kissing one’s subjective “Francisco”, with a more blurred and unreal lighting, showing distorted perception reality.
  Film perfectly filmed, with Arturo de Cordova sensational, and not far behind that sweet actress Delia Garcés.
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  2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
  Good picture about love and jealousy, compellingly realized by the Spanish maestro , Luis Buñuel
  Author: ma-cortes
  15 March 2013

  “This Strange Passion” or “El” deals with Francisco (Arturo De Cordoba) is a rich man , rather strict on rules , and still a bachelor . After meeting Gloria Milata (Delia Garces), he thinks her the adequate woman and he is determined to marry her, and succeeds in winning her away from her fiancée, Raul Conde (Beristain). The honeymoon and the following months have an unnerving effect on Gloria along with Francisco’s rigid principles. She learns her husband results to be an irrationally jealous man. Francisco is a dedicated husband, but step by step his passion shows to exhibit paranoia and disturbing traits.
  Another film masterpiece by the director of the prize-winning “The Young and the Damned” , being shot in three weeks by the great Luis Buñuel who even makes a cameo appearance as one of the monks. This rare movie is largely considered a Luis Buñuel’s masterpiece . It is packed with thought-provoking drama, surreal moments , jealousy , criticism , paranoia and religious elements about Catholic Church ; furthermore Buñuel satirizies and outright attacks bourgeois lifestyles . Good acting by Arturo De Cordoba as the wealthy, religious and leery middle-aged Francisco Galván as well as Delia Garces as suffering spouse . This splendid Buñuel film was nominated Grand Prize in Cannes Film Festival (1953). Good and atmospheric cinematography by excellent Mexican cameraman Gabriel Figueroa , though being necessary a perfect remastering .
  The motion picture was stunningly directed by the genius Luis Buñuel who was voted the 14th Greatest Director of all time. Moving to Mexico in the late 1940s, he teamed up with producer Óscar Dancigers and after a couple of unmemorable efforts shot back to international attention with the lacerating study of Mexican street urchins in “Los Olvidados” (1950), winning him the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival. He subsequently produced ¨Don Quintin Amargado¨ , ¨El Bruto¨, El¨, ¨Abismos De Pasion¨ , ¨Robinson Crusoe¨ , among others . But despite this new-found acclaim, Buñuel spent much of the next decade working on a variety of ultra-low-budget films, few of which made much impact outside Spanish-speaking countries , though many of them are well worth seeking out . After returning his native country, Spain, by making ‘Viridiana’ but this film was prohibited on the grounds of blasphemy, then Buñuel with his screenwriter Julio Alejandro go back Mexico where realizes in low budget ‘Simon of the desert’ and produced by Gustavo Alatriste . Buñuel went on directing in France where filmed other masterpieces such as ¨Belle De Jour¨, “The Milky Way” , “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” , “The Phantom of Liberty” , his last picture was “That Obscure Object of Desire” shot in Spain .
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  2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
  Cupid’s poison arrow
  Author: Michael Neumann from United States
  15 November 2010

  Few other directors found as much humor in the perversity of human nature than Luis Buñuel, whose sharp eye and subtle wit could transform a routine romantic potboiler into a black comedy of psychosexual obsession. True love, in a Buñuel film, is not far removed from madness, and when Cupid’s poisoned arrow strikes a wealthy bachelor in this too frugal quickie production (made during the director’s long Mexican exile) it leaves him in a violent, irrational temper. Everyone knows him as a pious, well-mannered aristocrat, but after the love struck blueblood woos and wins the girl of his dreams he becomes, slowly but surely, a jealous monster. The transformation would be pathetic if it wasn’t so extreme: his fits of paranoia are funny because they’re so typical, but frightening because they’re so accurate. Buñuel charts his mounting insanity in an assured, deceptively straightforward style, pausing as always to deliver a few well-aimed punches at the Catholic Church and other sacred institutions.
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  2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
  Author: jotix100 from New York
  26 November 2009
  *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  We are taken to the Holy Thursday rite in which Roman Catholic priests wash the feet of a few young men to show humility. In the case of Father Velasco, a Mexican prelate, his interaction with the young men has more of a sexual feeling than anything else. Looking to the rite is Francisco, a rich man who watches the scene, but keeps glancing until he meets the beautiful Gloria in a pew with her mother. There is also a clear feeling of class values as the shoes of the people around the washing ritual have shining, if not new, shoes, in contrast with the humble young men’s bare feet.
  Francisco is a complex man suffering from paranoia. After he wins Gloria, who had been engaged to a wealthy man, he marries her. For all practical purposes, it’s a marriage made in heaven. Things begin to deteriorate between the newlyweds as they take the train that will bring them to Guanajuato, for their honeymoon. Francisco begins accusing Gloria of flirting with some of the men she meets, something that is absurd.
  The story follows Francisco’s descent into a madness caused by his own inability to cope with the facts. His marriage is ruined because Gloria can’t put up with his irrational accusations. In a change of pace, a miracle happens at the end in which we meet Francisco again in a strange land under a new persona. Finally, it seems, he has found peace within himself, not without destroying what he loved the most.
  Luis Bunuel’s Mexican years produced a string of movies that are now classics because of his vision. The director had a deep resentment of the Catholic Church, as he saw it. In his pictures Mr. Bunuel made clear, as he did here, to show how the institution was hypocritical in the way Father Velasco almost looks as though he is playing a sexual act with the young men he is supposed to be washing their feet. Yet, in the end, Mr. Bunuel switches gears in presenting a serene setting in which a repenting Francisco is seen.
  There is one amazing sequence when Francisco takes Gloria to the bell tower of a church. The deafening sound of the bells drive Gloria to the point of insanity. She realizes Francisco is mad. One wonders if Alfred Hitchcock might have found inspiration for a variation of his own take for the famous scene in “Vertigo”.
  Arturo De Cordoba gave an impressive performance as Francisco, the man driven by his jealousy and madness because of his paranoia. Delia Garces, the exquisite Argentine actress is impressive as Gloria. The director got, in general good acting from his ensemble cast. Some of the Mexican films of that period dealt with sentimental melodramas, none of which is found here.
  The film is worth a look because of the work of Mexico’s best cameraman, Gabriel Figueroa. The city of Guanajuato, which is key to the story, is shown in all its splendor. This was a triumph for Mr. Bunuel, one of the most original directors from all times.
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  7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
  “Talent borrows, genius steals”
  Author: vostf ( from Paris, Fr
  27 August 2002

  I had these words by Alex Epstein in mind when I left the theater. Before I went to watch Él I knew Hitchcock had taken a bit to draw Vertigo. Well, it’s not simply a bit.
  Buñuel’s style is both graceful and low-key. It’s a pity this made his work less obviously marvelous to masses. On the other hand if there is something lacking in Él this is a gripping suspense. Something Hitch mastered with his will to enthrall masses. Buñuel’s directing is more on the side of actors for us to hesitate between judging the characters and just waiting for more... which is exactly the theme.
  Bringing psychological torments to screen is definitely not easy a directing choice . It’s a challenge for the upper-crust and I remember Hitchcock’s Spellbound was not really convincing, neither was Fritz Lang’s Secret beyond the door. Yet each brought something to be chewed for others to experiment.
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  Bunuel’s succinct thriller
  Author: lasttimeisaw from China
  10 September 2015
  EL, in Spanish means “he”, in this Buñuel’s film, he is Francisco (de Córdova), an unmarried middle age bourgeois man, who is first seen as an assistant during a church ceremony in Mexico City, he is pouring water in the basin when Father Velasco (Baena) prepares to wash the feet of a young boy, and a close-up is zoomed in as Father kisses the foot he just washed, before another shot aiming a pair of female feet, the svelte legs then reveals they belong to a fine-looking woman Gloria (Garcés), whom Francisco falls for at first glance, lust stems from the sight of a pair of feet. So in hindsight, the tongue-in-cheek reference of feet fetish not just insinuates one of Francisco’s essential quality is his religious fervour, but also incriminates religion as a main cause in his paranoid psyche. Seeing that it is also in the church, Francisco finally discharges all his rage over the tipping point, towards whom? Father Velasco, his dearest friend.
  The plot is a fairly conceivable, Gloria is recently return from Argentina with her mother (Walker) and is engaged with an architect Raúl (Beristáin), who turns out to be Francisco’s acquaintance. Thus, by throwing a lavish dinner party in his immense villa, Francisco cunningly wins her over by his dedicated idea of true love should germinate from the very first sight (of course, his wealth and debonair flair also tip the scales). Then the time-line forwards a unspecified period of time, when a distraught Gloria seeks help from Raúl, the flashback unveils what is actually underneath the urbane facade of Francisco after they get married during that spell.
  Being an objectionable composite of wanton jealousy, paranoia, male chauvinism, self- centeredness, wanting confidence as a competent lover and overbearing self-respect “nothing I hate more than happy morons”, Francisco is played out as a complete obnoxious character far, far away beyond any redemption, while Gloria’s own safety slowly but surely slides down into an ominous menace, to a point we wonder why she is still willing to live with him (a lavish villa is difficult to jolt, one may say). This is Buñuel in the mid-stream of his career, applies a more discreet visual style to this unsophisticated narrative, the showiest parts strike when Francisco totally loses his sanity, the irregular shooting angles, two different worlds (surreal and real) alternately materialise in front of him, honed up to a thrilling tension with Luis Hernández Bretón’s arresting score.
  Arturo de Córdova’s performance is sterling despite of Francisco is the impossible sort to invite compassion, utterly compelling when he betrays his deep-rooted vulnerability, although he is deeply in love with Gloria, he is unable to love, cannot even pull off his evil attempt of murder, an out-and-out weakling, subverted by his bourgeois upbringings and religious influence, monastery is the fitting final settling place for him. Delia Garcés’s Gloria, adopts a comely appearance but hampered by her own indecision and subservience to a patriarchal supremacy, which society casts on women at that time, she is spellbound to watch when she finally opens up about all her suffering. Apart from an expert study on paranoia, the film is a telling lesson that every young woman should sensibly set a stint of observation period when a seemingly-perfect middled-aged bachelor proposes to you, and it is a safe bet that there is something iffy about him, personality-or-peculiarity-wise.
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  Arturo de Cordova’s psychological issues make life miserable for his wife, Delia Garces
  Author: msroz from United States
  5 November 2014
  *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  “El” (1953) is a psychological drama and suspense story, told very skillfully. Its focus is on the demented behavior of Arturo De Cordoba’s character. Under a cloak of normality, he is a man with characteristics that will progress to paranoid schizophrenia as the story progresses. This degree of madness is not evident when the story begins.
  The time structure of the story is such that after the opening his wife meets her former fiancée and recounts in a long flashback the unhappy course of her marriage to Cordoba. When that part comes up to the present, the rest of the story is told in the present. The story contains a good deal of suspense and surprise. In addition to exploring paranoia dramatically, Bunuel integrates other themes of interest such as the Church.
  Cordoba is passionately attracted to Delia Garces initially by her feet at a church ceremony. This fetish is the initial sign of a personality abnormality. He pursues her with unusual vigor, taking her away from her fiancée, the sympathetic Luis Beristain. The elaborate ways that he plots to follow her and get her to his mansion are further signs that not is all well with Cordoba’s behavior. The dwelling was designed by his father, and it is a very ornate and out of the ordinary design, and so was his father out of the ordinary. This is a biological sign. Another sign is Cordoba’s obsessed attempt to gain extensive property because of an ancient deed he holds. He gets very angry and abruptly dismisses a lawyer who says it cannot be done. After he hires a new lawyer, who likewise knows it is a steep uphill battle, Cordoba deceives himself into thinking that there are grounds for optimism. Later, when he is again disappointed, this contributes to his deterioration.
  Through the recounting of her married life with Cordoba by Garces, we experience a highly detailed view of both his and her character through any number of experiences they share. Cordoba begins with extreme jealousy on their wedding night and goes from there. Garces struggles to deal with Cordoba’s jealousies, seeking counsel from her mother and a priest. They are singularly ill-equipped to deal with it. Worse, they consider Cordoba perfectly respectable and think she hasn’t been understanding enough. Garces doesn’t really recognize that her husband is mentally ill, suffering from a jealousy delusion and disorder. When his behavior becomes even more extreme, she is realistically slow to grasp the full extent of his mental breakdown.
  To give just one illustration, in one scene at bedtime, Garces is in bed. Cordoba mounts the huge staircase but stops partway up. He paces back and forth on one step. He pulls a rod out from the stair and begins beating it against the step, over and over, awakening the upset Garces. This repetitive behavior of his and not going to sleep are realistic elements of a deteriorating mental condition. This is a mild instance of what Cordoba does and goes through. The movie is very well-written and directed to bring all of this kind of thing out.
  Bunuel wanted to show us real paranoia in the context of a movie and entertainment. It’s more extreme here than in a movie like “Undercurrent” (1946), which itself shows attempted murder. Subsequent films like “Psycho” and “The Tenant” are further examples of films that explore madness or the descent into madness. Bunuel’s portrait is powerful and memorable, standing up very well against these other examples, which also are strong films. Each of these films has its own individual strengths. The strength of Bunuel’s treatment is that it is detailed and very well integrated into a dramatic story. It is rich in visual support and dramatic incident. The cinematographer was the renowned Gabriel Figueroa.
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  Author: lreynaert from Belgium
  10 July 2013
  Rarely has a journey into madness so convincingly and so brilliantly been filmed. Luis Buñuel’s directing and the playing of the actors, Arturo de Córdova and Delia Garcés, are simply magnificent, as was his crew, with Gabriel Figueroa as primus inter pares.
  The obsessions (jealousy, suspicion, greed) of the main character of the movie burst into plain paranoia in one of the most hilarious/dramatic sequences ever shot in the history of the motion picture. The end comes as a shock when the main character appears in a most unexpected disguise. Luis Buñuel used shocks (an eminent trick of the surrealists) time and again in many of his movies in order to derange and provoke the spectators. Of course, the main intrigue of the movie is a variation on the age old male nightmare of raising unknowingly the offspring of other men. This bright movie is a must see for all movie buffs.
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  2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
  Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
  11 March 2008
  El (1953)

  *** 1/2 (out of 4)

  A wealthy, highly religious middle aged virgin (Arturo de Cordova) marries a woman (Delia Garces) he believes to be his true calling but things soon start to fall apart when the man becomes overdone with jealousy and obsession. This was my first Luis Bunuel film and while the story isn’t anything too original, the direction certainly puts it in a league of its own. The claustrophobic ending was very well handled and highly memorable as was the performance by de Cordova who really gets inside this characters head.
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  0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
  I’m just a jealous guy...look out!
  Author: mosoul_65 from United States
  6 May 2010

  A fine depiction of toxic bitterness that destroys a man and the woman he claims to love. Bunuel begins to express his familiar themes within the commercial framework of this film from his Mexican period. The protagonist is a narcissist paranoid that loses any sense of perspective as he pursues his agenda. Also a masterful use of music and clever commentary on the Catholic church in Mexico. I was lucky to see “El” on TCM Latin America in Spanish. It prefigures later Bunuel films with surrealist moments, yet these are well placed within the narrative. Interactions between the characters show insight into subtleties of Mexican and Spanish-speaking culture. This and “El Gran Calavera” are the only Mexican period Bunuel I’ve seen but I will seek more of them out.
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  0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
  Bunuel Screaming to Get Out
  Author: cstotlar-1 from United States
  2 May 2012

  I’ve wanted to see this film for years but have missed it several times in the past. This time I picked it up on You Tube of all places so now I’ve seen all of Bunuel’s “Mexican” films.
  I suppose I was hoping for more. Some of the earliest Mexican films were pretty standard fare - not much to be detected from “L’Age d’Or” or anything like that. Bunuel had to cooperate with the standard melodramas of the day to get his films made in Mexico. Occasionally his special eccentricities would come out of the woodwork but not often enough for me. This film was released by Columbia Pictures which means Harry Cohn and Cohn was truly a monster for any director to work with. There are some pot shots at the church throughout and “l’amour fou” so close to the director but there was precious little humor in this one.
  I felt the film didn’t always know where to go. It describes obsession in detail and conveys it extremely well with talented performances. The “Vertigo” stretch was a bit much for me. Both films dealt with obsessive men and had scenes in bell towers but there couldn’t be any mistaking Bunuel for Hitchcock or the other way around, nor how the two directors treated it in such vastly different ways.

  Curtis Stotlar

  0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
  Jealous guy
  Author: dbdumonteil
  7 September 2011
  The first scene is pure Bunuel: the hero attends the high mass, on Good Friday but his soul is not in the right place: this is a festival of feet fetishism, male feet, female feet, which the priest kisses. Religion is omnipresent: the rather mature hero is still a virgin - the priests tells it so to his wife - when he gets married. And when the distraught lady tries to find comfort with the others, she obviously chooses the wrong ones: her mother - every woman must obey her husband, he may not be wrong -, the priest - every woman is Eve and anyway he knows his penitent as his own son- and the servant - in Mexico town where poverty (and shanty towns) awaits, your master must be right, and he urges him to get rid of the sinner.
  The wife suggest he go to see a doctor who could cure his incredible jealousy but it is too late: every fellow man is an enemy, every eye is a peeping tom’s and he’s got his needle (to gouge an imaginary voyeur’s eye out ) his razor and his rope. He thinks he is the victim of a huge conspiracy and that the human race is abominable: on the steeple, near the bell (a picture which would come back later in “Tristana”), he depicts the other human being as worms scrawling on the ground and he is not far from thinking he is God; in the church, his madness knows no more bounds, and he’s got hallucinations, thinking that the believers laugh at him, even the vicar. The picture of the man trying to strangle the priest looks like Bunuel’s settlement of scores with a religion the director loathes.
  Bunuel’s humor is present in the last scene in which the psychopath walks: see how he slowly zigzags along. And he seems to go towards a black hole!
  The movie is a constructed as a long flashback, a process which is rare in the director’s cannon: it’s necessary to defuse some scenes such as the shooting: Bunuel did not want to make a thriller, he wanted to make a Bunuel movie!
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  0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
  Author: kosmasp
  14 July 2008

  Bunuel, I have to admit that I wasn’t that aware of his movies prior to 2008. But gladly, the Berlin Film Festival did a retrospective on him. And I came to realize that he’s a genius (at least to me), so I watched as many of his movies as I could.
  Like this one, with is a psychological study of a man in love. Some might even say obsessed and is that really love, what the man feels? Those are points you have to decide/decipher for yourself. Another reviewer pointed out, that Hitchcock might have taken some points from this movie ... which could very easily be true. One thing is for sure: For a drama-thriller this is one to watch! Not really light-hearted though, mind you!
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  0 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
  Maybe artistic, but too sordid!...
  Author: Jeff Tiresias Jesmorh from Mexico
  27 November 2005

  This film was directed by the famous Luis Buñuel, recognized Spanish film maker that came to México and created a great bunch of surrealistic films (some too sordid for that decade). The truth is, that maybe this picture is good, but too negative for the people that like the great flirting romantic image of Arturo de Córdova: An icon for the following contemporary romantic gentlemen of the “Mexican Golden Age”.
  This film deals with the inner side of a man that let us see his jealous feelings and a sickness love between the central actor Arturo de Córdova and his co protagonist Delia Garces; taking them to a violent relationship that ended in a tragedy...
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