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Translator, Emilio Cervantes

Writer of premature talent, José Agustín (1944-2024) led, following La tumba (1964) and De perfil (1966), that curious generation of the so-called “Literatura de la onda” [The Wave], a generation that spread its influence to the film industry by co-writing Cinco de chocolate y uno de fresa (1967) and Alguien nos quiere matar (1969), both films directed by Carlos Velo, and by Agustín's own directoral effort Ya sé quién eres (te he estado observando) (1970). A young and beautiful Angélica María, with whom Agustín lived a short yet intense love story, stars in the three films, produced by Angélica Ortiz, mother of the actress and singer. Ortiz, like Agustín, found herself at that moment at the peak of her career.

Born in Jalisco, “predilect son of Cuautla”, and Acapulqueño by choice, José Agustín Ramírez Gómez was, also, screenwriter, essayist, playwright and journalist. In 1965, he studied for a brief period of time at the newly CUEC (University Center of Film Studies), now known as ENAC, and was an intern at the Mexican Center of Writers (1966-1967), under the mentorship of Juan José Arreola. He also studied Letras Clásicas at the UNAM, and more. His way of storytelling and use of a pleasant, vivid, anti-solemn and modern language certainly transformed Mexican literature, having a permanent influence on the following generations with his vast and transcendental work.

Cinco de chocolate y uno de fresa (1967, dir. Carlos Velo)
Cinco de chocolate y uno de fresa (1967, dir. Carlos Velo)

After the appealing and beautiful title sequence for the explosive teen film Cinco de chocolate y uno de fresa, created by the painter, set designer and later filmmaker Toni Sbert, with the help of the engineer Gustavo Cota and his psychedelic projections, a sign appears on the door of the Churubusco convent that states: “Closed. Whoever trespasses this sacred property will be excommunicated”. After that, Angélica María shows up as the naive Esperanza, a novice who follows a group of old nuns, right before she steals and eats a chocolate and confesses to an old and sympathetic priest her constant sin of gluttony. Directly after that we see a mansion in Lomas de Chapultepec, where the same actress, Angélica María, shows up as Brenda, who, wearing an amazing mini dress and a pair of boots, and performing “Los filos del sol”, a beautiful music piece by José Ortega with lyrics by José Agustín himself, shocks the wealthy owners of the mansion and their guests and at the same time mesmerizes five college boys who talk to her.

Sbert's work in the credits and the story co-written by José Agustín were not only the reflection of the sentiment of a fresh and young era that was preparing for the Olympics (which would end with the events of Tlatelolco a year later), surrounded by "peace and love" and LSD, but it was also, overall, the vision the perspective of a dated society represented by double-standard parents and corrupt and pathetic institutions (including the Mexican film industry itself), like the Agencia Internacional de Vigilancia [International Surveillance Agency] from the film, led by actor Enrique Rambal; the Círculo de Banqueros [Bankers Circle], presided by actor Roberto Cañedo; or the union leader “Charro” Jiménez (Victor Alcocer) as a comparison of Joaquín Hernández Galicia "La Quina" of Pemex, who is made fun of in the street and forced to take off his jacket and pants and dance a zapateado veracruzano “just like in any good Mexican movie.”

Cinco de chocolate y uno de fresa (1967, dir. Carlos Velo)
Poster of Cinco de chocolate y uno de fresa

The irony and ruthless satire of our cinema and of the "great and outdated Mexican family" is evident in the dialogues and situations written by José Agustín in Cinco de chocolate y uno de fresa [Five of chocolate and one of strawberry], whose title refers to the ice creams Brenda and her unaware accomplices (Fernando Luján, Edmundo Mendoza, Juan Ferrara, Agustín Martínez Solares and Michel Strauss) order at gunpoint (it was a toy gun) at the soda fountain of the Sanborns on Reforma 233. At the party, Brenda says “I came here to disrupt the peace and tranquility of this decent home” while the theme song says "Decadent, sad and ephemeral" in relation to the society of that time. Mendoza states that they dedicate themselves to play with the wave, to free animals, to storm Radio Mil's facilities and kidnap the leader of the bankers. Brenda mentions that she lives in “a place near heaven,” like the Pedro Infante's movie, while stealing the motorcycle of a traffic agent of the so-called “Tamarinds”, like the character played by Pedro Infante in A toda máquina (Full speed ahead).

Esperanza and Brenda are the same person, young people labeled as communists. Even more strange is that the protagonist and a nun (Consuelo Monteagudo) get food poisoning from mushrooms brought to the convent by some Oaxacan indigenous men from the Sierra Mazateca, in a film that gradually becomes more and more self-parodic and chaotic with explosions, helicopters and a somewhat conventional ending that José Agustín surely did not agree with, but that was imposed mostly by the industry and the career of the actress herself. A story that addressed, at the same time and to a lesser degree, other themes related to the writer himself: youthful chaos or the fear of commitment, all of that featuring middle-class young people.

Cinco de chocolate y uno de fresa turns out to be a funny and [] young adults comedy that can be interpreted as well as a perverse erotic-synarchist allegory of the time, shot a few months before the outbreak of the Student Movement of 1968, with the unsettling presence of Angélica María–in her best film–and with a small collaboration from Dug Dugs. The film was a thriller that mixed songs, espionage and hallucinogenic mushrooms, in which the actress proved that she was capable of surpassing the sugary romantic comedies she made a few years earlier. José Agustín would later participate as a screenwriter or by the adaptation of his books in other bitter, sensual and violent stories (The Heist, Love Around the Corner) or in ironic, chaotic and pessimistic ones (City of the Blind, You're Killing Me Susana).