Cantinflas Columbia Pictures Collection (A volar
joven/El Circo (Circus)/El Gendarme Desconocido (Undercover
Policeman)/El Mago (The Magician)/El Senor Fotografo (Photographer)/Los Tres Mosqueteros (Three Musketeers)/Si yo fuera diputado/1941 – 1952/Sony DVDs)
Picture: C+ Sound: C Extras: D Films: C+
is best known for co-starring with David Niven in the 1956 Michael Todd hit
version of Around The World In 80 Days,
Mario Moreno Reyes was a successful actor, writer and comedian of such
importance that he was even recognized by Charlie Chaplin. Better known as Cantinflas, he reigned as an
international comedy success for 45 years and is one of those great comic
talents long overdue for rediscovery.
Sony has issued eleven of his classic film comedies and we have seven of
them we had the chance to look at.
A volar joven (1947) is a military comedy that
arrived not long after WWII ended and is very amusing. El
Circo (Circus, 1943) is an even
funnier comedy set under the big top that has some fun moments I did not
expect. El Gendarme Desconocido (Undercover
Policeman, 1941) goes undercover to find bank robbers in this comedy in the
shadow of WWII, but it is not too haunted by it.
El Mago (The Magician, 1949) is one of the best here as a streetwise hustler
(Cantinflas) starts passing himself off as a magician and gets himself in
trouble and finds himself in the Middle East.
Yes, these films can be very politically incorrect as much as a Columbia
Three Stooges film and this is one of the wildest of all in that respect. El
Senor Fotografo (The Photographer,
1953) is almost the same film, with our would-be cameraman getting mixed up
with gangsters instead of royal dictators.
Los Tres Mosqueteros (Three Musketeers, 1942) is a very comic take on the classic that
has some fun twists and is the most unusual version I have seen that works
besides the John Wayne serial years before.
That leaves Si yo fuera diputado
(If I Were A Deputy, 1952) as a
barber shop owner who suddenly pretends to be a lawyer. Also very funny, it and all the films show how
talented Cantinflas was, how ahead of his time his work was and what an amazing
talent he had. That is why seeing these
fine films is definitely worth going out of your way for if you really like
film comedy. Hope we see more.
films were shot in black and white 35mm film at 1.33 X 1 block style and are
presented that way, but all of DVDs miscredit the framing as anamorphically
enhanced 1.85 X 1. In an odd move, El Gendarme Desconocido is anamorphically
enhanced with its 1.33 X 1 centered as if it were a Blu-ray. The prints look good and some restoration
work has been done to them. There are
some fine shots, but you also get flaws from the age of the films as expected
and some shots that are softer than they should be. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on the films is
more aged and can seem compressed or at a lower volume. There are no extras.
- Nicholas Sheffo