Combustible Celluloid
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With: Marga López, Miguel Inclán, Rodolfo Acosta, Roberto Cañedo, Mimí Derba, Carlos Múzquiz, Fanny Schiller, Estela Matute, Silvia Derbez
Written by: Emilio Fernández, Mauricio Magdaleno
Directed by: Emilio Fernández
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Spanish, with English subtitles
Running Time: 95
Date: 02/25/1949

Salón México (1949)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Night and Day

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The great cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa shot this terrific black-and-white Mexican film noir, capturing a kind of hopeless nocturnal existence, crossed with its very opposite, hopeful daylight existence. As the story progresses, the two begin to bleed into each other's spaces. A woman, Mercedes (Marga López), dances in a nightclub, desperately trying to raise money to put her younger sister Beatriz (Silvia Derbez) through a prestigious boarding school. A sleazy nightfly catches on to what she's doing, but a kindly security guard takes a shine to her. Meanwhile, at the school, Beatriz falls in love with the director's handsome war hero son. Director Emilio Fernández (Maria Candelaria, La Perla) tells his soapy story with true dedication to the characters and the places they inhabit; it's filled with respect and real feeling. Figueroa shot several films for Fernández, but also famously worked with Luis Bunuel, John Ford, and John Huston; Fernández, on the other hand, is probably best known today for playing the role of Mapache in The Wild Bunch.

Note: I viewed Salón México as part of Elliot Lavine's impressive 2015 "International Film Noir" series at the Roxie Cinema.

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