24 July 2010

International Film Festival, San Miguel

Pedro Armendáriz and John Wayne

There are reasons for the fitful appearance of blog entries here very recently, one of which is the onset of the International Film Festival in San Miguel.

Last evening, Pedro Armendáriz, Jr., made his appearance up town in anticipation of his acceptance of his lifetime achievement award, or whatever precisely it is.

I appreciate that you would have to be in the vicinity of my age in order to appreciate the significance of the name Pedro Armendáriz as well as the names Dolores del Rio and, yes, Cantinflas. These are all Mexican actors of yesteryear from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema that dwindled away in the 1960's. They were all hugely popular in this country and also had a very significant impact in films made in the United States by not acting to stereotype.**

Pedro Armendáriz, I am pretty sure.

Now we must be careful here. The Pedro Armendáriz did not walk into the main plaza last night. The father, who is the one of whom I have written in the previous paragraph, has been dead since the early sixties. He committed suicide rather than ride out his cancer. The guy who walked into the main plaza last night was Pedro Armendáriz, Jr., who is normally billed in films as simply Pedro Armendáriz without the “Jr.” He has himself appeared in many films made in the United States but has also contributed otherwise to the Mexican film industry.

Pedro Armendáriz, Jr., as he appeared to me last evening.

I am convinced, however, that in the Mexican mind this is a distinction without a difference. They are both the same man here for all intents and purposes. It is a similar popular cultural phenomenon to, say, Hank Williams and Hank Williams, Jr., in the United States, only more so.

Pedro Armendáriz . . . or maybe Pedro Armendáriz, Jr.? Or maybe both?

I must admit that this 70-year-old man carries himself with some real machismo--erect (by that I mean that he had excellent posture), a bit arrogant in manner, but possessed of a devastating smile. He walked into the plaza and did a promenade around it preceded by a band, accompanied by his entourage, flanked by the San Miguel mounted police—not motorcycles but horses, and followed by Mexicans in all kinds of costumes, some on stilts for some reason.

The upshot of this was that I had to chase La Mexicana around that plaza as she tried to get as close to him as possible as many times as possible along with an enormous number of other striking Mexican women with the same idea. You would have thought that Gael García Bernal or Diego Luna had walked into the place.

I give up.

**ADDENDUM: La Mexicana is expressing outrage as I type this that I did not include the most famous Mexican actress of all, María Félix, who you will be happy to learn was "not really a whore." She just put up some big numbers. I offer this addendum in the hope that it will placate La Mexicana.

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