La Mujer del Puerto (“The Woman of the Port”) (1934)
Directed by Arcady Boytler and Raphael J. Sevilla
You just never know when you are going to find that special film! I had never heard of this one until I was gathering films for this exercise. Rosario (Andrea Palma) lives in poverty with her aging father and is in love with a neighbor who says he will marry her when he has more money. Her father dies and her lover proves unfaithful so Rosario becomes a prostitute on the docks in another town. One night she meets a client who defends her from a drunk and her fate takes an even more tragic turn. (I will not spoil the ending but I was shocked.)
The plot and acting in this are secondary to some exceptionally beautiful images. In terms of the story, the film is uneven with certain parts moving at a very leisurely pace and the final fifteen minutes unnaturally rushed. Some of the acting is a bit overdone. However, the composition of the shots and some of the editing are just masterful. There is a scene where Rosario is escorting her father’s coffin through a group of carnival revelers that is breathtaking. The whole movie is bathed in gorgeous expressionist lighting. Well, well worth seeing.
Director Arcady Boytler was born in Moscow and directed silent films in the USSR and Europe before arriving in Mexico and meeting Sergei Eisenstein at the time of the filming of Qué viva Mexico! (1932). He made several other films during Mexico’s Golden Age of cinema but it looks like this is the one that is most readily available on DVD.
Excerpts with song “Vendo Placer” (Pleasure I Sell) as background