Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Cinco de Mayo Latina/o Film Festival on Turner Classic Movies All Day, and All Month

Hit the image to visit Ted Turner's priceless cable invention {more below the image}

In honor Cinco de Mayo, the Tex[t]-Mex Galleryblog is proud to host a streaming trailer of Paul Muni channeling Benito Juarez in MGM's riveting Juarez. Muni, of Bordertown fame, was Hollywood's go-to "Mexican" non-Mexican* in the 1930s:

Here's UCLA Chicano kingpin Chon Noriega on Muni--the connection to Lon Cheney, the man of a 1000 faces (only Anthony Quinn played more types/monsters is dead-on):

Guillén: Our of sheer curiosity then, let’s say that—out of the many performances where white actors play Latino characters—is there one you feel to be most accomplished?

Noriega: That’s an interesting question. Lou Diamond Phillips is often incorporated into the Latino character category and he’s a multi-ethnic multi-racial actor. He’s had several roles where he’s played a Latino character. There are some performances that are notable precisely for not being that believable. It’s interesting when you see the mainstream press say, “Well, this is not believable. We love the actor but no way is it convincing.” Historically, the performance I find most fascinating—not necessarily believable per se, but believable in the context of Lon Chaney—is Paul Muni in Bordertown. And also in Juarez, where he plays the Mexican president Benito Juarez. It’s a great performance though I don’t know how authentic it is in essence. But that’s not the question. It’s a fascinating example of somebody who—like Lon Chaney—made a career out of playing and trying effectively to play just about every type he could. {source}

*Paul Muni was born Meshilem Meier Weisenfreund on September 22, 1895) in Lemberg, Austria-Hungary (now known as Lviv, Ukraine). His parents were Jewish actors that immigrated to the United States in 1902. He started working on the stage at 12 years of age, when he was known by a Yiddish nickname Moonie, but didn’t make it to Broadway until he was nearly thirty.... {source}


  1. Thanks for that. Will try and watch some of the films, although I may have seen most of them already.
    Paul Muni at least tolerable as a Mexican, brought dignity to his roles unlike Eli Wallach who is mostly cringe worthy.
    Shout out to you this morning on our blog.

  2. I'm also glad you posted this. I wish TCM would switch Tortilla Flats for any movie with Gilbert Roland in it.

  3. My mother had a huge crush on Gilbert Roland all of her life, she still gets misty eyed over the chance meeting she had in Tijuana with the movie star back in the 1950's!
    She is 88 years old and she can vividly describe the scene down to what she was wearing on that day. Proof positive if you ask me that fantasy always improves reality.