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Saturday, October 17, 2009

UNA MUJER SIN AMOR / A WOMAN WITHOUT LOVE (1950)


A fascinating ‘What If’ film. Though Luis Buñuel is much honored for his early avant garde work and for his later bourgeoisie-busting art-house cinema, he actually spent a number of years toiling for Paramount & Warner Bros., first in Europe and then in the States, before he got a second chance in Mexico and grabbed grande seigneur status back in Europe. This melodramatic pot-boiler shows what he might have made of a Hollywood assignment. It’s like a Douglas Sirk pic, inexpensively made, but plenty slick by Mexican standards, about a young, unhappy wife who’s all set to run off with her new love when her domineering older husband has a heart attack. Years later, her lover has died alone in a foreign country, and left a large inheritance to their out-of-wedlock son. What will happen as the old lies begin to leak out and change the family dynamic? It’s easy to imagine Joan Crawford (@ Warners in the ‘40s) or Jane Wyman (@ Universal in the ‘50s) in this one, though without the brutal character tics Buñuel applies to his cast. It’s always fun to see if such a distinctive talent could flourish in a different milieu. He could, he could. Be warned: the current DVD has a pretty good image, but teeny, tiny subtitles.

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