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Foreign Comedy - Mexico - The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales Another Review


The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales
El Esqueleto de la senora Morales
Arturo de Cordova, Amparo Rivelles
Directed by Rogelia A Gonzalez
Black and white
Spanish with English subtitles
Mexico 1959
Facets 2006

When Mexican filmmakers have chosen to treat the problems of their people through serious melodrama or tragedy, results have been - except for some rare exceptions - rather poor; but things turn out very different when they take the other road, as  in The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales / El Esqueleto de la Senora Morales -where great talents come together to represent their culture with a responsibly comic vision leaving pseudo moral restraints behind.  That's why in The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales / El Esqueleto de la Senora Morales we have a masterpiece DVD whose value increases with the years.

With The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales (1959)  writer Luis Alcoriza de la Vega - disciple of Luis Buñuel and Emilio Fernández - worried as usual in projecting his search for eroticism and sexuality through sarcasm, found in Arthur Machen's The Islington Mystery the framework for the subversive movie he created with director Rogelio González Villarreal and actor from Yucatán Arturo de Córdova (Arturo García Rodríguez) - emblematic leading man of Mexican movies in the 50s and 60s-as Pablo Morales, a taxidermist.

At first glance, the story is about a perfect crime even though, as the director told me in a personal interview at the beginning of the 70s, Iram García Borja, the censor at the time, forced González and Alcoriza to adjust the script. However, in spite of the interference by the reactionary elements of Mexican society, the film's subversiveness survived because the repressors were not able to see that the criticism of the national culture went deeper.

Fortunately, the man responsible to authorize the public presentation of The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales / El Esqueleto de la Senora Morales also did not see the unmasking of the fundamentalism of the Catholic Church - excellently represented by  characters such as Antonio Bravo's father Artemio Familiar and his followers: Miss Castro (Elda Peralta), Lourditas Mendiolea (Mercedes Pascual) and historian (Roberto Meyer)-- nor Mexican machismo defending the status quo through actor Luis Aragón nor saw in Gloria (Amparo Rivelles) the prototype of the castrated Mexican woman who has been taught that all pleasures are sins and that the salvation of her soul can only be found in the search of her and everybody else's earthly unhappiness, starting by her husband's Pablo Morales, played by Arturo de Córdova.

Thanks to the ignorance provoked blindness of those who were responsible for taking care of Mexican society's morals, we can still rejoice in an excellent source of urban Mexican culture and through one of the 20 best pictures ever made in this country, The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales / El Esqueleto de la Senora Morales.

Dr Mario Humberto Zamora Del Cueto PhD.

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