Maten a Chinto! El Violento

(Kill Chinto! The Violent One)


(Conacine-Estudios Churubusco Azteca, 1988) Dir/Scr: Alberto Isaac; Photo: Jorge Stahl Jr.; Music: Lucía Alvarez; Prod Mgr: Jorge Jiménez P.; Post-Prod Dir: Claudio Isaac; Prod Chief: Alfredo Chavira; Asst Dir: Sebastián Silva; Film Ed: Carlos Savage; Art Dir: Rogelio Hernández Neri; Decor: Enrique Bernal; Action Coord: Angel de la Peña; Camera Op: Teodoro García; Makeup: Lilia Palomino; Sound Op: Daniel García; Re-rec: René Ruíz Cerón; Sound Ed: Javier Patiño; Union: STPC

CAST: Pedro Armendáriz [Jr.] (Chinto Covián), Héctor Ortega (Inés), Eduardo López Rojas (Cmdte. Palancares), Gerardo Quiroz (Rerré), Lucy Reyna (Elena), Mónica Moray (Pamela), Xavier Massé (Consul Kraft), Patricia Paramo (Ema), Amelia Zapata (Tulitas), Angel de la Peña (Blas), Regino Herrera (Gen. Correa), Alfredo Dávila (Jacome), Alfredo Ramírez (Gato Chacón), José A. Marroz (blind man), Ramiro Ramírez (Dr. Rivas), Bernabe Guerrero (Juan Quintero), Jorge Rocha (Pacheco), Genaro Zarate (Jonás)

NOTES: This is an excellent film made by one of the top Mexican directors of the past 30 years, Alberto Isaac, who specialized in period films, although not exclusively. Maten a Chinto! is set in 1944, although the setting is not particularly important.

During the Christmas season of 1944 in the Pacific coast port city of Manzanillo, hotel manager Chinto loses his temper and assaults "Inés," the homosexual cook. Inés complains to the police, but when several patrolmen come to arrest Chinto, he pulls a pistol and shoots them. The authorities soon lay seige to the hotel; Chinto's employees, oddly enough, follow his orders without question and assist him in barricading the hotel's doors and windows. The guests include U.S. consul Kraft and Pamela, the blonde mistress of a Mexican businessman (whose Mexican wife is also staying in the hotel). Chinto has been having an affair with one of the maids (who, unknown to him, is pregnant with his child), but he begins a brief sexual liaison with Pamela (she asks him "Who taught you English?" and Chinto replies, "George Raft").

Maten a Chinto was advertised like a contemporary action film.

Outside the hotel, the police and military authorities are baffled. The navy even fires a shell at the hotel from one of their ships in the harbor (it misses). A famous sharpshooter tries to pick off Chinto from a nearby roof, but the hotel manager shoots first and kills him instead. Inés tells police Cmdte. Palancares that he and Chinto came from the same village. Chinto, a member of an influential family, has always been a violent person: he killed a man whom he caught making love to Chinto's girlfriend, then fled to the United States. While he was there, he was sent to jail but killed a guard and escaped back to Mexico.

Chinto promises Elena, one of the hotel guests, that he will kill no one else, but he won't surrender. Meanwhile, Inés leads a sniper into the hotel through a back way. The sniper crawls into the rafters and prepares to shoot Chinto, but Chinto commits suicide with a shotgun. His suicide note is unseen and ignored (Palancares wipes his hands on it, then tosses it on the floor and it becomes stuck to his shoe). As the film ends, a blind troubador sings his newly-written "Ballad of Chinto."

Maten a Chinto! is an exceptionally well-made film, technically excellent and smoothly put together. Isaac is a top-notch director, and the film is filled with many little details that raise it out of the ordinary. The film is immensely enjoyable but deliberately frustrating: Chinto's murderous rampage is never clearly explained, and the destruction of his (unread) suicide note is one final amusing twist. Chinto is a puzzling character, but not unsympathetic. He has a sense of humor, is kind to the women guests and employees, and has earned the loyalty of his staff (particularly the mute Rerré, a young boy who runs errands for Chinto but balks when Chinto says he has two shotgun shells left, one for each of them). "Chinto, do you really enjoy killing people?" Pamela asks. "I don't know," is his unrevealing reply. Pedro Armendáriz is perfectly suited to the role, and his performance is quite good. The supporting cast is also without exception good, from Eduardo López Rojas as the bemused police chief and Héctor Ortega as the effeminate but perspicacious Inés. The characters of the two gringos are rather stereotyped (Kraft is the chauvinistic blowhard, supremely confident in the power of his U.S. citizenship to overcome obstacles in "savage" Mexico; Pamela is the sexually-attractive blonde who prefers Mexican men) but both Xavier Massé and Mónica Moray endow their roles with additional dimensionality.

Final note: the video box text for Maten a Chinto! is very misleading and erroneous, wrongly indicating that the film takes place at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor and that this has something to do with Chinto's rampage; the box also states that U.S. troops are called in to deal with the hostage situation and that an international incident between the two countries results. This is all wrong! Obviously whoever wrote this had not even bothered to see the film (or get a decent synopsis).

Maten a Chinto! is well worth watching, as are most of Alberto Isaac's films. It is one of many Mexican films unjustly overlooked by the rest of the world.


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Review completed 12 May 2001 by D. Wilt (dw45@umail.umd.edu).