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Aventurera Movie Review

sevilla elena palma ninon

For a film buff, discovering a movie like Aventurera is better than finding buried treasure. Before I saw it, I'd never heard of its star, Ninon Sevilla, and now I can't wait to see some of her other movies (like 1949's Senora Tentacion and 1956's Yambao) even without subtitles and cut up with commercials on Spanish-language television channels. The pace of this 1949 Mexican film noir is breathtaking. In the first few minutes of the movie, we meet Sevilla as an innocent young girl named Elena whose mother runs off with another man. After her broken-hearted father commits suicide, Elena must find work, but every job she takes results in unwanted pawing. Finally, an old acquaintance named Lucio takes her to a nightclub, plies her with champagne, and promises to help her become a well-paid secretary. Instead, Elena finds herself working for the ruthless Rosaura, owner of a Juarez brothel. Elena not only has to sing and dance for the nightclub patrons, but share her bed with them as well! As the plot thickens, we learn that Rosaura is leading a double life in Guadalajara, that Elena is a fast learner of most of life's bitter truths, and that even a knife-wielding hunchbacked thug named El Rengo is not all that he seems to be. The eight production numbers are on the same level as those in a low-budget Columbia musical of the ‘40s, but Sevilla's over-the-top sensuality makes them sparkle. And when she isn't singing and dancing, her skill at projecting rage and resentment helps the 101-minute running time whiz by. Many of Sevilla's best scenes are with Andrea Palma, who plays Rosaura. Both women have a million reasons to hate each other, and Sevilla and Palma give their convoluted characters a surprising degree of dramatic realism in their highly charged sequences together. None of the male actors (except for Miguel Incian as El Rengo) are in the same league as Sevilla or Palma, but at least none of them looks or sounds like Glenn Ford, the bane of bargain-basement California noir. How many more gems like Aventurera are shelved in the vaults of other countries, waiting to be brought to life again on the movie screens of today? For starters, at least give us more Ninon Sevilla films, especially those with tantalizing titles like Victims of Sin and Sensuality. San Francisco's legendary Castro Movie Palace deserves credit for bringing Aventurera to contemporary audiences—I had no idea what a cinematic treat I'd been missing all these years.

1949 101m/B MX Ninon Sevilla, Andrea Palma, Miguel Incian, Tito Junco, Ruben Rojo; D: Alberto Gout; W: Agustin Lara; C: Alex Phillips Jr.

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