Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Ninón Sevilla, Tito Junco, Andrea Palma, Rubén Rojo, Miguel Inclán
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Laguna Productions Inc Release Date: 11/11/2003 Run time: 101 minutes
The Whole Enchilada
Michael M. Wilk | Howard Beach, NY | 06/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think it was back in 1996 when I had read an enthusiastic review of Alberto Gout's 'rediscovered masterpiece' "Aventurera", which was playing in "art houses" throughout the US. My late friend Rosalind (to whom I'm dedicating this review) read the review with me, and said that it sounded like something we had to see. Well, it didn't happen until now. My dear friend "Sun" saw the film recently, and told me that I had to see it. And am I glad I finally did! "Aventurera" is an extremely entertaining, wildly melodramatic, over-the-top tour de force of Mexican cinema. Starring the popular, Cuban-born dancer Ninon Sevilla (she's still working, by the way, in Mexican Television), "Aventurera" delivers the goods. Ninon plays sexy but "good girl" Elena Tejero, whose father shoots himself after he learns that his wife has left him for another man (Elena caught them in a passionate embrace). Elena leaves Chihuahua for Juarez, where her ardent "friend" Lucio (an oily, pimpish Tito Junco) gets her drunk and drugged, then sells her into white slavery under the iron fist of brothel madam Rosaura de Cervero (Andrea Palma, who was a big star of Mexican cinema in the 30s and 40s) Elena becomes the "star attraction" of Rosaura's lush nightclub, manages to escape, and then hooks up with well-to-do attorney Mario de Cerverio (Ruben Rojo), who happens to be Rosaura's son! It is then that Elena plans her revenge against all who have done her dirt...The film is absolutely hypnotic in its baroque storyline, lavish musical numbers (you have to see them to believe it), seemingly endless parade of glamorous outfits, and, of course, the performances (no such thing as 'underplaying' in this film). Ninon was a dancer, and her numbers are lively and campy to boot. Her acting is a combination of Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Susan Hayward, Betty Hutton, and yes, Carmen Miranda. Her enthusiasm and vitality are quite evident!The film is "more Hollywood than Hollywood", and it does remind me somewhat of Columbia's "Gilda" (Rita Hayworth's signature role) and "Ladies of the Chorus" (a ludicrous "rich boy loves burlesque star" opus starring an up-and-coming Marilyn Monroe), as well as numerous films noirs. The cinematography is a gorgeous black and white, and the music is a joy, featuring such classic latin standards as "Frenesi" and "Adios". There isnt much in the way of extras on the DVD, (just an audio introduction to the film) but I'm not complaining. For lovers of good old-fashioned melodrama and a larger-than-life style of storytelling, then "Aventurera" is the film for you!
This review is dedicated to my dear friend Rosalind Scott, who would have loved this film!"
Ranked #4 Mexican Film Ever by Somos Magazine
Curtis Allan | Seattle, WA | 07/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Just released today on DVD by Facets Video so I ran straight down to rent it. Unabashedly campy, Aventurera pays definite homage to the Hays-Code American film noir style of the 1940s, while still maintaining the very Mexican form of the cabaretera drama. According to the DVD special feature introduction, Aventurera was re-released in 1996 to critical acclaim in LA and NY. This release (as opposed to a slightly earlier one by New Form Video) is thus aimed at the upscale North American art house crowd. It has white English subtitles, somewhat annoyingly burnt onto the original images (no switching on or off, and no other languages). The image quality isn't quite Jeanne d'Arc, but the black and white is sufficiently crisp and clear. I haven't seen the cheaper release, or the VHS, and so can't comment on those. For some reason with these Mexican titles Amazon almost never provides links to different editions as they do on all other films.Back to the movie, it begins extremely campy and continues on in that fashion for some time, but the quick ending has more subtle and delightful noirish turns of fate than any film I can remember. I wouldn't dare spoil it for you. The story is well developed, the acting is above average, and the scenes are produced professionally. The (melo-) dramatic segments are framed by lovely little urban shots of Chihuahua, Juarez, and M?xico cities, as well as some jazzy Latin dance numbers, giving the viewer nice breaks. Personally my favorite number was the Samba one, performed in Portuguese. If it was in color it would have been as spectacular as those from Singin' in the Rain. Cuban immigrant Nin?n Sevilla stars. Unlike most of her fellow cubano immigrants to Mexico, and despite her platinum hairdo, Sevilla's ancestry definitely seems to tend towards the Afro-Cuban variety. She gives a wonderful performance and brings a buxom star-powered presence to the film. Mexican film aficionados will note that the villainess is played by none other than Andrea Palma, who starred in the 1934 film La Mujer del Puerto. Mexican super-regular Miguel Incl?n (Dona Barbara, Mar?a Candelaria, Enamorada, Fort Apache, Los Olvidados, etc etc etc) gives a subtle but satisfying performance as the reluctant verdugo/enforcer Rengo. Certainly this film is a bit overrated and overhyped, but it grows on you. While some of it seems clich?, so does the Godfather, because it was so often copied. Expectations mean so much when watching a film. Keep them within reason and you might be pleasantly surprised by Aventurera before it's over. It reminds me just a bit of Gilda (1946), and obviously came right on the heels of Emilio Fernandez's Salon Mexico (1949). The sleazy border scenes also seemed to remind me of Touch of Evil. I think it certainly compares favorably with other films of the era like Key Largo, All About Eve, or Nights of Cabiria. Definitely worth checking out."
Ninon Sevilla's best film.
JPulid | Chicago, IL USA | 12/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film deals with the story about a yong woman who loses her parents at nearly the same time and is forced into a life of prostitution working in a seedy cabaret, for a madam who has a double life. It is one of the best films Mexico ever made and it is a very well written story, with a great cast and great settings,this film should be enjoyed by any one interested in great cinema."
In this cabaretera, Elena's curdled milk of human kindness w
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 02/12/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Elena Tejero (Ninon Sevilla) is a peppy young girl from a well-to-do family in Chihuahua, the kind who skips across the dining room to plant a happy kiss on her loving father's indulgent cheek. When her mother leaves home for another man and her father kills himself, a sad Elena decides to go to Juarez and find a new life as a secretary. It's not long before she learns men want more than dictation. Thanks to Pretty Boy Lucio, a pimp and gangster, the innocent Elena winds up drunk, drugged and assaulted in the brothel/cabaret owned by a woman known as Rosaura. This cruel queenpin of crime oscillates between Mother Gin Sling and, later, Joan Crawford on a fraught day. Elena's future is simple, Rosaura tells her. She'll entertain the customers on the nightclub floor and then entertain them again upstairs...or she'll feel the lame, mute Rengo's knife slice across her cheek. Elena does what she must, gains popularity as a dancer, never meets a man worth more than a used piece of wet chewing gum and gets out as soon as she can.
It's not long before Elena is a smash as a dancer and singer in Mexico City. She becomes engaged to a young lawyer of impeccable family...but there is a twist to the story about to happen that will shock and daze us. Elena by now has turned into a hard young woman who is determined to wreak vengeance on those who have ruined her life. She may be an ultimate victim but she's going to see that those who wronged her get theirs. Her curdled milk of human kindness would choke Mother Teresa. The twist, when it comes, is going to give Elena a lot of gimlet pleasure.
Aventurera is Elena's story. Hold on to your hats, your wallets and keep your zippers zipped. We're talking corruption and revenge; songs and production numbers; diaphanous costumes and pineapple hats; melodrama and death; sex and sin...lots of sin. The movie is a type of Mexican film called a cabaretera, a cabaret/crime/melodrama movie that was hugely popular in post-WWII Mexico. The girls are fallen doves. The cabarets and nightclubs are just a step above brothels. The owners, hustlers and crooks are cruel and corrupt. The customers are hypocrites. And the songs are great.
Ninon Sevilla may not have been a great actress but she had energy to burn. When she's strutting, stomping and shaking across the stage you'd swear she was channeling Rita Hayworth and Carmen Miranda. As a dancer, her hips do most of the work. They must have been double jointed. There are five songs and three full-blown dancing-singing productions. They're great fun. Her Chiquita Banana number is impressive...
"Chiquita Banana, girl of Martinique, dresses in banana leaves.
She doesn't wear dresses, she doesn't wear pants.
Winter, summer, she doesn't care. It's no difference what she wears,
And she rightly says she's ready if someone wins her heart."
Aventurera, for all the shameless melodrama, is also something of a statement about feminism. Elena might become a bitter, unforgiving heroine, but there's not a man in sight worth worrying about. They're all just macho weaklings, selfish drunks, groping bosses, sleazy crooks and horny adolescents. I could see Aventurera as an unusual American B-movie produced by Betty Friedan, Busby Berkeley and Edgar Ulmer.
With all the songs, dances, theatrics and...well, stuff, is Aventurera as campy as some say? Probably, I suppose, but no more than those Bollywood extravaganzas of passion, tears, dances and flashy costumes. It's most likely a movie you'll enjoy even if you say to yourself, "What next could possibly happen?" Just remember what that smooth singer early in the movie crooned to us with a Latin beat...
"Sell your love dearly, Aventurera.
May it pay the great cost of your painful past.
And he who awaits the sweet honey of your kiss
Must pay the price in diamonds for your sin.
Make him pay in diamonds for your sin."
The DVD transfer looks just fine. There is a video introduction to the movie by a man named Michael Donnelly who worked for years to have this Mexican movie better known in the United States. I recommend you hear what he has to say before watching Aventurera."