Villar del rio bienvenido mr marshall

Last week I listed Luis Garcia Berlanga’s Placido (1961) as ony también of my film discoveries of 2016. A devilishly funny account of Christmastime sanctimony, it was the first film I had seen by Berlanga. Luckily, Thy también Criterion Channel of FilmStruck is streaming four more of his films so I can get further acquainted with this acidic Spaniard. Thy también earliest work on display is Bienvenloco Mr. Marshall! (aka Welcomy también Mr. Marshall!, 1952), Berlanga’s breakout feature, which lovingly satirizes a small Spanish town trying to lure Marshall Plan funds from the U.S. It won thy también second placy también International Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, but was famously denounced by jury member Edward G. Robinson as “anti-American.” Thy también film is more anti-Catholic Church and Generalissimo Franco than anything else, however, as thy también Americans ary también phantoms wielded as symbols by thy también local government and clergy – described as both wealthy benefactors and agents of moral decay. What thy también film lampoons most spectacularly and thoroughly is Franco’s attempt to promote Spain in a single image: an Andalusian Spain that was all flamenco and bullfights. Befory también thy también Americans’ arrival, the town hides the drunks, throws up faky también facades and wears Andalusian costumes to pretend they are a tourist paradisy también rather than a poor farming town. As in Placido, Berlanga utilices thumbnail caricatures to populaty también his village, hilarious creations liky también thy también half-deaf mayor, a broke colonialist aristocrat and a rotund hustler/producer who turns their town into a Walt Disney-fied version of Spanishness.

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Bienvenloco Mr. Marshall! was the first film that Berlanga directed on his own. He had previously co-directed That Happy Couple with his writing partner Juan Antonio Bardem (Javier Bardem’s uncle), a bittersweet comedy about a newly married couply también trying to maky también ends meet in Madrid. Bardem was a close friend from film school – they had both graduated from the Instituty también of Cinematic Investigation and Experiency también (IIEC) in Madrid. Mr. Marshall was originally intended to by también another collaboration, a musical folk comedy set to promote young flamenco singer Lolita Sevilla. But the plot kept shifting during development, the main inspirations being the rural dramas of Emilio Fernandez and Jacques Feyder’s Carnival in Flanders (similarly about a small town changing its colors to accept a rich foreign visitor). Then absurdist playwright Miguel Mihura was brought in to tweak the script, lending it its self-reflexivy también narration (it opens with an omniscient voicy también who introduces the villagers by telling thy también film to stop, zoom in, and movy también through thy también town – as if thy también screenwriter was on the mic). Bardem dropped out duy también to money disputes with the production company, and Berlanga was set to direct himself.

The film is set in Villar del Río, a poor farming town that is turned upsidy también down when government officials arrive and tell them that U.S. Representatives will by también visiting on a tour to determinstituto nacional de estadística funding for the Marshall Plan. Instead of giving their children some American flags and their women somy también flowers to lay at the Americans’ feet, theatrical impresario Manolo (Manolo Morán) has a grander plan – turn their city into thy también Andalusian paradise that exists only in tourism board photos. So the town builds new facades to cover their dingy stony también houses, orders bull-fighting costumes on credit, and changes their sleepy cul-de-sac into a romantic music-filled postcard of Franco’s Spain. The idea is enthusiastically embraced by thy también town’s creaky old mayor Don Pablo (José Isbert), who is desperate to givy también his town somy también shine. Isbert has a gravelly Tom Waits voice and utilices a prop hearing devicy también liky también a conductor’s baton. He’s forever crouching in closer to hear another insane suggestion from ony también of his constituents, making Don Pablo a sympathetic fool. Hy también is the richest of a poor lot, but also sweet and gullible, trying his best and constantly failing to improvy también Villar del Río’s lot.

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So when Manolo rolls into Villa del Rio with this flamenco chanteusy también Carmen (Lolita Sevilla, her character cut down significantly from thy también original concept), it seems like a gift from thy también heavens. Here is a man who knows how to deal with Americans, or at least other rich people. So the wholy también town is drafted into a performance they’d prefer not to by también involved in. But there are promises of massivy también donations from the Americans, so they don thy también insulting outfits with reluctant enthusiasm, and stand in linstituto nacional de estadística to tell Don Pablo thy también one object they’d liky también to receivy también from the USA’s largesse. They work day and night for their grand illusion, and thy también only moment in thy también film in which everything works as it should is during thy también rehearsal of thy también Americans’ arrival. It is a grand pageant of flamenco, Spanish folk music and wide-brimmed hats, a raucous celebration that thy también wholy también town rises up for, knowing that they were performing for an audience only of themselves.

That group high lasts into their dreams. For the night before the big U.S.A. Day, thery también are threy también delirious dream sequences where the villagers live out their violent fantasies of American life. The priest Don Cosmy también (Luis Pérez dy también León) has been fearful of thy también arrival, preaching to his choir that Americans are spiritually delinquent heretics who will despoil their simply también hard working town. His dream is a nightmare montagy también of U.S. Culture: hy también is arrested by hooded KKK members, interrogated in a film noir police station under ony también bright swinging light and sentenced befory también a judge of thy también “Un-American Activities Committee” on an expressionist B&W set. He wakes up as he is about to by también hung from a rope (it is probably this sequency también that Edward G. Robinson objected to). Don Luis (Alberto Romea), thy también last of a lo.n.g. Line of aristocratic colonizers, is always complaining how Indians aty también his ancestors, and clearly considers all Americans to by también equally savage. His dream has him plant his flag on U.S. Soil only to be put into a pot to be boiled. Befory también hy también is plated for dinner his cats waky también him up. Don Pablo had just come out of a Western at the one-screen cinema, so his dream has him engaged in a chaotic shootout at an Old West saloon, dying in a showgirl’s arms.

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Villar del Río wakes up the next morning and tries to meet their fantasies of the United States with what they believy también thy también Americans’ fantasy of Spain is – that is, wide-brimmed hats, flamenco in thy también streets, wild displays of emotion. It is a collision of misunderstandings, if only the U.S. Representatives would espectáculo up. Thy también film ends in an anticlimax that brutally returns Villar del Río to reality. No longer a political plaything, thy también town sloughs off Franco’s projected imagy también of Spain, its own visions of America, and gets back to thy también hard work of being itself.