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Portraits of Engaged Girls during the 40's and 50's

Temas y géneros

Rafael Aviña

Translator, Andrea Cabrera

One of the most important themes in Mexican cinema of the twentieth century was the idealization of marriage. The submission to the laws of God and men in which thousands of women sacrificed their freedom for the sake of an idyllic wedding, economic and emotional stability, and a home of their own, even if it was just a room, in which there were children. All this sounded very beautiful in novels, comics, soap operas and especially in the plots that the big screen offered. In the interior of a country with so many social abysses and a greedy machismo, those sublime dreams were far from becoming reality. However, our cinema used to go for the portrait of the wedding, even with bittersweet and more realistic endings as happens in the final scene of Una familia de tantas (1948), by Alejandro Galindo. In that film, Maru (Martha Roth), the protagonist, leaves her home dressed as a bride for the altar without the company and consent of her parents. Or that happy ending, also in appearance, of Luis Buñuel's El gran calavera (1949), in which Charito Granados leaves her interested suitor (Luis Alcoriza) at the altar to follow his true love: Rubén Rojo.

Una familia de tantas (1948), de Alejandro Galindo
Una familia de tantas (1948, dir. Alejandro Galindo)

However, the fifties was the decade lavish in stories of women whose greatest aspiration was to get married as in that tourist film entitled Llamas contra el viento (dir. Emilio Gómez Muriel, 1955), filmed in Cuba, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico. The ending of its heroines was a stable wedding with handsome and formal men. Alicia (Ariadna Welter), her sister Claudia (Yolanda Varela) and their friend Laura (Annabelle Gutiérrez) are a trio of hostesses who decide to spend a vacation in Caracas since all three received marriage proposals from "three" Venezuelans who are actually one: the womanizing and mature Williams (Víctor Junco) who asks for marriage in order to occasionally hook up with a woman.

There, Alicia meets Eugenio (Raúl Ramírez); Laura, fond of poetry, meets Alfonso (Félix González), a waiter who actually studies engineering and pretends to be a poet; and Claudia, more ambitious, is interested in Williams himself who claims to have a lot of money. It turns out that Eugenio is married but his wife (Magda Guzmán) has a terminal illness and gives Alicia permission to marry Eugenio at the time of her death. Claudia ends up in love with a young sailor (Fernando Casanova). The weight of the landscape was resounding and even more the wedding aspirations of the protagonists. A highlight was the sensitive use of the beautiful musical theme Cumbia Sampuesana in a splendid sequence that takes place during a carnival in Colombia.

A year earlier, Gilberto Martínez Solares directed Hijas casaderas (1954) with Carlos López Moctezuma as a widower fired from his job without compensation. He has three daughters: Silvia Pinal, the formal, who studies piano and is a designer; Carmelita González and Alicia Rodríguez, the "frivolous", who respectively study Philosophy and Literature, and typing. He gets several jobs to suport them and suffers because he has promised to marry them off with good men, while on several occasions he has to save them from the moral ruin and "modernity" of the moment.

Gilberto Martínez Solares dirigía Hijas casaderas (1954)

On the other hand, Chicas casaderas (1959, dir. Alfredo B. Crevenna), shows during the sequence of credits the image of three plastic dolls; that is, the way men saw young marriagable women of good birth: fragile dolls for a sideboard and nothing more. All this, accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack by the master Antonio Díaz Conde. Marcela, an effective cartoonist who embodies Maricruz Olivier, is going to marry the mature Miguel (Roberto Cañedo), owner of the furniture store where she works to help her poor father (José Luis Jiménez).

In the business, Marcela assist her former schoolmates who are about to get married and who are looking for furniture for their home: Patricia and Margarita (Silvia Suárez and Martha Elena Cervantes), and their boyfriends Fernando and the jealous Paco (Héctor Gómez and Alfonso Mejía); while the young traffic officer Roberto (Héctor Godoy), in love with her, harasses her. After several situations that put the relationships at risk and the break up of Marcela with her boss, the young couples end up marrying happily in a "modern" country that raised the aspirations of an emerging middle class and girls of marriageable age in a dream country like Mexico was in the late fifties.

Finally, in that same context, a couple of rather proactive stories are inserted: Matrimonios juveniles (1958), with Kitty de Hoyos, Olivia Michel, Luz María Aguilar and Aída Araceli, and Las recién casadas (1960), with Luz María Aguilar, Olivia Michel and Mona Bell, both directed by José Díaz Morales, starring newlywed couples who face the expectations and problems imposed by the macho values of those years.