For our special Mexico Issue (Nox. 2009), we knew we had to do something special when it came to movies. After all, those of you who are true cineastes take it very seriously, as you should. So we asked some of our friends in the industry who really know their stuff— actress Adriana Barraza (Babel), producer Frida Torresblanco (Pan’s Labyrinth), cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Broken Embraces) and Mexican film scholar Sergio de la Mora of the University of California at Davis— to help us assemble a definitive list of the 25 must-see Mexican films.
Obviously, we couldn’t fit everything on that list, so here are some recently re-packaged, double-feature, black-and-white DVDs from Televisa Classics/Lionsgate. They date back to the 1940s, 50s, and 60s and cover all the bases (romance, drama, adventure, and comedy). It’s more than enough to get you and your movie club through the entire winter season.
Un Callejon sin Salida (Alley Without An Exit) and Campeon del Barrio (Champion of the Ghetto):
Un Callejon sin Salida The violent story of five lives linked to one fatal destiny. The five sink into an abyss of pleasures and vice, until they find themselves in a dead-end alley. This is an explosive story about tremendous conflict and the search for an impossible love. Directed by Rafael Baledon, the film features Javier Solis and Alberto Vazquez. (1964)
Campeon del Barrio A young man from the barrio takes up boxing to deal with persistent aggressions. When he finds a trainer in his fiancee's father, he sets his sights on the world championship and delays his marriage. Directed by Rafael Baledon, the film stars Javier Solis and Sonia Lopez. (1964)
El Castillo de los Monstruos (The Monsters Castle) and Conquistador de la Luna (Conqueror of the Moon):
El Castillo de los Monstruos A mad scientist and his crazy cast of monsters gather in a ghoulish castle, stirring up plenty of scares and laughter. This takes Monster Mansion to new heights. Directed by Julian Soler, the film features Antonio Espino "Clavillazo," and Evangelina Elizondo. (1958)
Conquistador de la Luna This science-fiction comedy follows a man and his fiancée who sneak onto a space ship and accidentally launch themselves to the moon. As if that's not enough, they run into extraterrestrials! Directed by Rogelio A. Gonzalez, the film stars Antonio Espino "Clavillazo" and Ana Luis Peluffo. (1960)
Cinco Rostros de Mujer (The Five Faces of Women) and Dos Caras Tiene el Destino (Destiny Has Two Faces):
Cinco Rostros de Mujer Roberto, a mature bachelor, gets a mysterious call that transports him back twenty years to when he was engaged to Beatriz...a call that drastically changes both of their lives. Directed by Gilberto Martinez Solares, the film features Arturo de Cordova and Miroslava. (1946)
Dos Caras Tiene el Destino A doctor, abandoned by his wife, falls into an alcoholic pit and then flees when one of his patients dies. When the dead patient is identified as the doctor himself, an opportunity opens for the doctor to claim a new identity. Directed by Agustin P. Delgado, the film stars Eduardo Noriega and Miroslava. (1951)
El Asesino Enmascarado (The Masked Assassin) and El Charro de las Calaveras (Riders of the Skulls):
El Asesino Enmascarado From the series "El Rey de la Pistola," lawlessness rules in this forsaken part of the world, where anybody can be the masked assassin. Directed by Manuel Munoz, the film features Joaquin Cordero and Miguel Aceves Mejia. (1962)
El Charro de las Calaveras A cowboy known as the "rider of the skulls" battles against evil forces in this horror movie featuring werewolves, vampires and zombies. Dagoberto Rodriguez and David Silva star in the film. (1965)