Soñar no cuesta nada "joven" [It Costs Nothing to Dream, Young Man] (Huertas Enterprise, 1968?) Exec Prod: Johnny Huertas, Herrera de México; Prod: Johnny Huertas, Tony Felton; Dir: Glauco del Mar; Scr: Eduardo Davidson, Pedro Áviles Herrera; Photo: Al Nieves, Peter Palian; Music: Ricardo Rey [sic], Eduardo Davidson; Film Ed: Al Nieves, Peter Palian, Salim Chadhri, José Antonio Torres
Cast: Eduardo Davidson (Eduardo, man in cabaret act; gay man in record store), Pedro Áviles Herrera (Biribab), Perla Mar (?Agustina), Joseíto Mateo (singer), Johnny Huertas, Ricardo Rey [sic = Richie Ray] and su Orquesta, Bobby Cruz (singer with band), Eppy Dueño (James, club owner), Carmen Iraida "La Rebelde," Baby Hi-Fi Colón, Fulsi Taveras, Romero Rochán (cop checking parking meter), Connie Treviño, Minerva Velez, Hy Farryum, Juan Torres, Miss María Bam Bam, Blanca Treviño, Roseta Camacho, Gloris García, Elba Maldonado, Zyra Medina, The Latin Brothers, José Valis, Alexandria Montiel
Notes: this film, Glauco del Mar's first color film, features a Cantinflas impersonator, Pedro Áviles Herrera. Áviles Herrera does an excellent job imitating the Mexican comedian, although he only appears in the traditional Cantinflas costume for a few seconds in the credits sequence (apparently part of a nightclub act): in the rest of the movie, he wears a variety of outlandish "mod" costumes, but his voice, makeup, and mannerisms are clearly modeled after Mario Moreno's famous character. I have been unable to find any additional information about Áviles Herrera (who is presumably the "Herrera de México" credited as co-Executive Producer).
The other mystery about Soñar no cuesta nada, "joven" is its date of production. I had originally thought it was shot in the mid-1970s, but have revised my guess to the late 1960s for the following reasons:
1. Ricardo Ray and Bobby Cruz were popular salsa performers but around 1974 they both left the music business to devote themselves to evangelical Christian activities.
2. The song "Mr. Trumpet Man" heard in Soñar... was a hit for Ray in 1968 (some sources cite 1966).
3. actress Gloris García also appears in Glauco del Mar's Love After Death, released in 1968.
4. actor Eppy Dueño looks much younger in Soñar... than he does in Mataron a Elena (1972) and Ye Yo (1977).
5. a billboard advertises tickets for Dr. Doolittle at the Loew's State theatre. This film (the Rex Harrison version) premiered in December 1967 at that movie house. However, since it appears many exterior scenes were not shot in the winter, it is possible Soñar... was filmed either before the movie was released (i.e., the summer or fall of 1967) or after it had been running for some time (spring 1968).
6. The character Biribab refers to the "latest 1967 model" clothes he's wearing.
[Note: I also think it is possible the framing story of the movie and the "record store" sequence were shot later than the "fictional" plot sections, based on the physical appearance of Pedro Áviles Herrera, who has very bushy sideburns in these scenes but none elsewhere. This would also explain the multiple photography and editing credits.]
Technically, Soñar no cuesta nada "joven" is rather rough, but some of this may be attributed to the battered and faded print used for the DVD transfer by low-budget "Miracle Pictures," which released a handful of New York-Puerto Rican features a few years back. Soñar. . . is paced poorly--there are too many musical interludes, and even some dialogue scenes are awkward and protracted. This is too bad, because the cast is generally good and there are some humorous moments. Some of director del Mar's trademarks are visible here--mirror shots, showgirls--but he doesn't include many of the extreme closeups of faces which pepper his other movies and there is no nudity or gore. However, even though Soñar... is a comedy, some of the sexual elements present in other del Mar pictures show up in a mild fashion: an attempted rape and a brief joke appearance by a transvestite.
Speaking of the cast, in addition to the aforementioned Áviles Herrera, the film features various musical performers (Ray, Cruz, Joseíto Mateo--in a completely extraneous song number--and Carmen Iraida) as well as the eccentric Eduardo Davidson. Davidson (real name, Claudio Cuza) was born in Cuba in 1929. After working as a radionovela writer for some time, Davidson became somewhat famous in 1959 as the creator of the pachanga style of music. He defected to the USA in 1961, and continued to produce music, dying in 1994. In addition to Soñar no cuesta nada, "joven", Davidson contributed additional dialogue to Glauco del Mar's Toño Bicicleta. In Soñar..., Davidson has a very long comic sequence as a flamboyantly gay character in a record store, in addition to a "straight" role in the framing story.
Soñar no cuesta nada "joven" begins with footage of Biribab riding through New York on an old-fashioned "high wheel" bicycle. The film then shifts to a skit in a cabaret: Biri and Eduardo sit at a table with a woman, and Biri boasts he has made a movie and will tell them about it...
Agustina, María and Conchita are three sisters who apparently came to New York on a shopping trip and spent all of the money their wealthy father gave them. They can't pay their hotel bill and (for some reason) owe money to some gangsters, so Agustina decides to get a job at a nightclub [the "Casa Borinquen," an actual NYC restaurant]. Coincidentally, Biribab is also hired there, to perform and wash dishes.
While Agustina is away, two gangsters enter the hotel room [the real-life "Hotel Americana" is thanked in the credits], intending to abduct her sisters. One thug starts to fondle one of the young women and, when his partner objects ("She's for the boss"), knocks out the man. The other sister seizes a pistol and shoots the lecherous criminal. Agustina returns but when the second gangster revives, he shoos the three women out of the room.
After Biribab has an altercation in the club's kitchen with the Chinese chef, he and club owner James visit Agustina's dressing room and find her there with her sisters. All are downcast and explain their dilemma--Biribab and James promise to help. But first, the show must go on! Agustina sings "Cuando, cuando, cuando," then Biribab does a stand-up comedy routine (referring to President Johnson and the bombing of Vietnam, another clue to the production date of the movie). An attractive young woman plays the straight role, claiming she likes Mexican music such as the "jorobada de tu tía" ("your aunt's hunchback" = la jarabe tapatía), then she and Biribab dance. [One repeated motif in Glauco del Mar's movies is musical numbers featuring sexy women dancing, as well as reaction shots of rapt audience members.]
Returning to the hotel, James, Biribab and the sisters find no trace of the dead gangster. However, Biribab--leaving the room to call the police--is captured by the other crook. [At this point the "movie" is interrupted by the framing story. The other man tells Biribab he thinks "something is missing" from his tale. This leads to an interpolated sequence--which has nothing to do with the plot or continuity of the fictional story--featuring Biribab and a very effeminate man in a record shop. The two men spar verbally:
Davidson: "The only Mexican thing I like is the tortilla."
Biribab: "Señor o señorita..."
Davidson: "This isn't a pulquería and they don't sell tequila here, either."
Biribab tries to purchase a Lucha Villa record but the gay guy (wearing a long scarf and carrying a flower!) flirts with the (male) store clerk, then finally locates the album he was searching for--one by Eduardo Davidson!]
The "movie" plot resumes. Biribab is taken to the hideout of the gangster boss, Joe. [This performer, a very skinny guy, speaks English and heavily accented, almost unintelligible Spanish.] Joe orders Biribab eliminated but the comedian escapes. [Another irrelevant number follows: as "Mr. Trumpet Man" is heard on the soundtrack, Biribab--wearing a silver wig!--leads a crowd of dancing people through the streets of New York, trailed by the original gangster.] Later, Biribab sees James kissing Agustina in her dressing room, which makes him sad, since he loves her.
At the "Teatro Colony," a charity performance is in progress. After a pair of Apache dancers, Biribab does a comedy bullfight skit (with a guy in a bull costume). Meanwhile, the gangsters steal the box-office receipts and abduct the three sisters. But Biribab and James trail them to the hideout, defeat the crooks, and free Agustina, María and Conchita.
The scene changes to a beach party, where Biribab tells the other guests how he defeated the gangsters. James shows up and informs him that the sisters didn't kill anyone, it was just a trick by the crooks to scare them. The movie concludes with a reprise of Rickie Ray and his band (in bathing suits) doing the "Biribab" song on the beach, then a montage of Biribab scenes from earlier in the film.
Soñar no cuesta nada "joven" features some sequences which seem to have been more or less randomly inserted (particularly the Joseíto Mateos number), but it's redeemed to an extent by a sincere performance by Pedro Áviles Herrera, who doesn't just do a Cantinflas imitation, but instead creates a real character. The other performances are either very broad, bland, or rather amateurish. On the positive side, the music is good, if repetitive ("El Biribab" is heard at least three times) and director del Mar directs many scenes effectively (even if others are rather clumsily done).
This is certainly a curiosity piece but is not without entertainment value.