Combustible Celluloid
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With: Miroslava, Ernesto Alonso, Rita Macedo, Ariadna Welter, Andrea Palma, Rodolfo Landa, J.M. Linares Rivas, Leonor Llausás, Eva Calvo, Enrique Indiano, Carlos Riquelme
Written by: Luis Buñuel, Eduardo Ugarte, based on a novel by Rodolfo Usigli
Directed by: Luis Buñuel
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Spanish, with English subtitles
Running Time: 89
Date: 11/27/1962

The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (1955)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Music Box Murders

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This black comedy comes from Luis Buñuel's middle period contains a satisfying number of his thematic touches, both from the early period and late period.

As it begins, a well-off young boy develops a most peculiar fetish. He receives a music box. His governess tells him that it has magic powers. She goes to the window and is killed by a revolutionary's bullet, just as the boy wishes for her death. She falls, dead, with her lovely legs and stockings exposed, igniting the boy's imagination.

He grows up to be Archibaldo de la Cruz (Ernesto Alonso), fascinated with murder and its erotic possibilities. Fortunately and unfortunately, his every attempt at murder -- and erotic satisfaction -- is thwarted. Alonso's obsession when, as an adult, he hears the music box at an antique shop borders on pure Pavlovian lust.

Working from a novel, Buñuel hadn't yet developed his most masterful dreamlike cinematic rhythms, but The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz, also known as Ensayo de un crimen, still uses its staginess for some terrific, dark jokes.

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