Where intense envy leads, 5 March 2016
"La Otra" (1946) is a film noir classic from Mexicoís Golden Age of Cinema. Many more such excellent films really deserve to be restored and released with good English subtitles to non-Spanish speaking audiences. However, can todayís audiences appreciate the beauty and mastery of an old cinematic melodrama without feeling superior, without snickering and without behaving like smart-alecks? "La Otra" is the furthest thing from "kitsch" as one review here labels it. Kitsch is something thought to be done in poor taste. The artistic elements in this movie are not akin to sleek, bland, colorless and tasteless modernisms. They are not concocted or manufactured for thrills or spectacle. Neither are they so exaggerated as to be baroque. What we see on the screen has been carefully created and edited to be at one with the story itself. The actors do not jump into bed. Sex is implied by the dropping of a fur stole from a couch, a fade-out, and then a fade-in to the stole being picked up. There is no cursing. No one mumbles lines. No gratuitous chase scene or scenes is inserted. Nobody looks like a bum or goes unshaven or looking like a ####. The movie focuses on the actions of its principals and their unforeseen consequences. (The censor acted up; the word was slu*, rhymes with nut, hut and but.)
The exceptionally beautiful Dolores del Rio plays a dual role of twins, one rich who has been left a widow, the other a manicurist. Del Rioís performance is first-rate in a film that itself has terrific noir visuals, sets and direction.
"Dead Ringer" (1964) is the same basic story, also a noir. Itís a good movie that Iíve always liked, but now having seen "La Otra", I have to say that it is as if it told a very different story because its emotional content is vastly different from that in "La Otra".