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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Filmmaking > Bronze Screen - 100 Years of Latino Image in Hollywood

The Bronze Screen –

100 Years of the Latino Image in Hollywood


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Main Program: B



Wanda De Jesus narrates a remarkable look at the powerful contributions of Latinos in American film with The Bronze Screen, a landmark documentary that delivers the strange journey that Latinos have had to endure from degrading silent-era stereotypes, to the early, sudden mania of the “Latin Lover” cycle and arrival of the controversial figure of Carmen Miranda.  It also shows the stunning, landmark work behind the screen, which includes key unit work for Cecil B. DeMille on his ultra-expensive, extravagant productions (including ones in the VistaVision format).


It also shows the prominence of composers (Lalo Schifrin), cinematographers (John Alonzo, Nester Almendros), and titles designer/graphic designer Pablo Ferro in the last golden age of American Cinema (1965 – 1982).  We learn so much history and are presented with an inside look of how Hollywood itself works that you could NEVER see without addressing the Latino presence, going back as early as the silent beginnings of the original Studio System.


Film historians Luis Valdez, Chon Noriega, Charles Ramirez-Berg, Rosalinda Fregaso and “Hispanic Hollywood” author George Hailey offer key insight into what transpired in the first century of cinema and the Latinos who were there all the way.  Interviews include footage of Cesar Romero, and new interviews with Rita Moreno, John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Pena, Ricardo Montalban, Lupe Ontiveros, Edward James Olmos, Jimmy Smits, Katy Jurardo, Cheech Marin and many others.  Add the very rare clips and this is a must-own documentary all serious film libraries should own.


The various aspect ratios are not bad for a documentary, but the images are usually full screen, down to the interviews.  The color varies from clip to clip, but most of the black and white images are more consistent than expected.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 ranges from mono to stereo, but is never in surround.  Extras include three great sections on Anthony Quinn, Rita Hayworth, and Rita Moreno.


I also loved how Miss De Jesus went out of her way to demonstrate the true Spanish pronunciations of the various stars.  Cesar, not Caesar, Romero for instance.  The whole DVD is a stunning, important program for all true film fans and especially for film students.  This is a great special interest documentary DVD, made better by the further rise of Latinos a few short years since its original debut.  The Bronze Screen is cinema history at its best!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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