El criado malcriado

[The Uncouth Servant]

(América Films, 1968) Exec Prod: Luis García de León; Prod: Fernando de Fuentes [hijo]; Dir: Francisco del Villar; Scr: Fernando Galiana; Story: C. Noriega; Photo: Javier Cruz; Music: Enrico C. Cabiati; Asst Dir: Fernando Durán; Film Ed: Max Sánchez M.; Art Dir: José Méndez, Octavio Ocampo; Camera Op: Douglas Sandoval; Makeup: Graciela Muñoz; Dialog Rec: Consuelo J. Rendón; Rec/Re-rec: Heinrich Henkel; Union: STIC; Division Color

CAST: Mauricio Garcés (Pablo Namnun), Rosa María Vázquez (Ana), Amadee Chabot (Bernarda), Enrique Rambal (Servando), Gloria Marín (Esperanza), Miguel Angel Alvarez "El Men" (Detective Martínez), Susana Cabrera (Susana), Jorge Lavat (Alejandro), Andrés Soler (General Fernando Reyes), Horacio Salinas (El Rebelde), Irlanda Mora (Lulis), Carlos Riquelme (don Carlos Beltrán), Trosky [sic] ("Escorpión, robber), Federico González (robber), Frankestein ("Leo," robber), Mary Carmen Serralde [ aka Carmen Serral] (woman in bathing suit), Armando Costa [sic = Acosta] (Cmdte. of police), Mario González (cab driver)

NOTES: this film is prime Mauricio Garcés from his period of greatest popularity, and while the basic plot concept was borrowed from My Man Godfrey and had already been used for Escuela de vagabundos (with Pedro Infante) and Qué hombre tan sin embargo (with Piporro), the picture is generally enjoyable and funny. Garcés gets to show off his whole bag of tricks, alternately acting suave, coy, cowardly, macho, and so forth. Galiana's script contains some sharp dialogue, and the supporting cast is quite good. The only stumbling blocks are a few scenes and characters who try to be too "wacky," and wind up looking silly instead.

Episode 1: "El gran robo"

Four men with stockings over their faces enter a bank intending to rob it. However, the whole caper goes wrong: instead of disabling the alarm, they set it off; the explosives to blow the safe are detonated prematurely; the police arrive promptly. However, in the confusion the leader of the gang manages to escape in a white VW Beetle, which is the subject of a widespread police dragnet. The three captured robbers claim they never knew their boss: each one gives a completely different description. Detective Martínez is assigned to the case.

The fleeing robber drives into the countryside and burns the Beetle. As he is walking through a forest, he hears the roaring of an engine and a chilling war cry--a man (wearing a spiked German helmet) on a motorcycle pursues him, until the robber finally collapses. He wakes up in bed, attended by Susana the maid. The lady of the house, Esperanza, arrives. The robber introduces himself as "Pedro Namnun."

Esperanza: "Of the Puebla Namnuns?"

"No," Pedro says, "of the North Pole Namnuns. My father was Lebanese and my mother was an Eskimo." The man on the motorcycle is El Rebelde, Esperanza's nephew. He wants to be a juvenile delinquent and "his goal is to die in the electric chair," Esperanza tells Pedro.

Pedro: "I hope he succeeds."

Pedro is hired to serve as the family's cook, chauffeur, etc. Their previous servant has just departed, taking various articles of value. The other residents of the house include Esperanza's attractive daughter Ana, the blonde artist Bernarda, Bernarda's father General Fernando Reyes (a former member of Villa's army), El Rebelde, and Servando, Esperanza's husband. However, Esperanza says she's really a widow: one day she decided Servando was dead to her, she mourned him for three months and now treats him like a stranger!

Pedro tells Esperanza he was a monk in Tibet, a hippie in San Francisco, a KKK member in New Orleans, and a high diver in Acapulco (among other things). He doesn't get along well with the spoiled Ana or Servando, but Bernarda constantly flirts with him. Pedro's first "international" meal includes Japanese ant soup (he squashes one of the ants that tries to escape).

Episode 2: "Un ladrón en mi alcoba"

That night, Bernarda comes into Pedro's room, unannounced.

Pedro: "Why didn't you knock--I might have been nude."

Bernarda: "Some other time [for that]. Do you dye your hair gray to appear more interesting, or have you had an operation on your wrinkles to appear younger?"

Pedro: "How old do I look?"

Bernarda: "You could be a badly-used-up 25 years old, or a well-preserved 45."

They are about to kiss when the lights of a car shine through the window. This marks the arrival of Alejandro, a young man who is bringing Ana back from a date. He tries to kiss the unwilling young woman, but they are interrupted by Pablo, who shows up in a night watchman's uniform. Pablo: "Can I stay and watch? I'm crazy to find out if you'll kiss her, or if she'll knock you out." After Alejandro leaves in a huff, Ana grudgingly thanks Pablo for his assistance.

The next morning, Pablo brings Ana breakfast in bed. Half-asleep, she mistakes him for the former cook, Clementina, and asks him to rub her back. When she realizes her mistake, she orders Pablo out of the room, but then hesitates and asks if he can drive a boat. "Naturally I can drive a boat," he replies, "And jets. And spaceships, Russian and American." Ana says to meet her at the dock later. [This is a very amusing scene. When Pablo first enters the darkened room, he picks up Ana's panties from a chair and puts them on his head! He also uses her bra like a blindfold. The timing is excellent and the dialogue exchanges between Garcés and Rosa Ma. Vázquez are very sharp; at the end of the scene, when Pablo asks "Don't you want me to help you get dressed?" Ana throws a pillow at him, again with perfect timing.]

In the words of Mauricio Garcés: Arroooz!

Pablo drives the family speedboat while Ana waterskis (on Lake Tequesquitengo). Later, he and Ana watch Alejandro shoot skeet at a nearby club. Pablo bets Alejandro he can outshoot him: if Pablo wins, he gets a kiss from Ana; if he loses, he'll quit at once. Of course, Pablo wins (shooting from the hip without even looking), but tells Ana he'll claim his prize later.

That night, a tipsy don Servando comes home in a cab. He offers to play cards with the cabbie for the fare, but Pablo steps in when he sees the cab driver cheating. After helping don Servando inside, Pablo and Ana kiss.

Episode 3: "Raffles 70"

The next morning, the family is having breakfast by the pool. Bernarda emerges from the water in a brief bikini, and asks Pablo dry her back. When Ana crossly orders him to serve breakfast "and save the massages for later," Pablo turns to Bernarda and says he'll continue "later--without a towel." He also imitates a bullfighter and decoys the obnoxious El Rebelde into driving his motorcycle into the pool, to the delight of the rest of the family. Servando says a prospective business partner, don Carlos Beltrán, will be coming for dinner that day.

Detective Martínez shows up, disguised as a waiter to work on the dinner party. He takes pictures of Pablo with a little spy camera (the burned-out VW has finally been located nearby). As Pablo is cooking "jamón a la Vietnam" (there is a puff of smoke and flame from the pan), he sings a song "García de León se llamaba" ("He was called García de León"--obviously an in-joke referring to executive producer Luis García de León). Bernarda comes in, her face painted in psychedelic designs, and asks Pablo to marry her ("I'll give you many psychedelic children"). Ana shows up as they are kissing, and calls Pablo a "Monster!"

Pablo: "Yes, I was once a vampire in Transylvania."

Bernarda: "Since you're a vampire, bite me" (she exposes her neck, and he does)

Don Carlos and his blonde daughter Lulis arrive. They don't realize Pablo is a servant, and Lulis is instantly attracted to him.

Carlos: "My daughter's like that, campechana [which means "frank," or "open," but could also mean a woman from Campeche]. And you?"

Esperanza: "No, I'm moreliana [from Morelia]."

Lulis asks Pablo who he is. Pablo: "A man who's neither too young nor too old; not too handsome nor too ugly; a man with a long past but even more of a future." "This man's enchanting," Lulis tells her father, "buy him for me."

The dinner goes well, and Pablo convinces don Carlos to invest in Servando's business. However, Martínez shows the photos he took to Pablo's incarcerated partners, and they identify him as the mastermind behind the robbery. The police show up at the house to arrest Pablo. Ana, who admits she is in love with Pablo, says don Carlos (who happens to own the bank that was almost robbed) will drop the charges, but Martínez says Pablo will still have to serve some time in prison (Pablo said the one thing he had never been was a bank robber, and he just wanted to try it). At that, Ana punches the detective. As the film ends, Ana and Pablo are sharing a jail cell, and they embrace.

El criado malcriado isn't a perfect movie but it is consistently amusing and has few slow spots. Garcés, as noted above, is in top form, snapping off his lines with gusto, and embellishing them with his repertoire of grimaces, sly looks, smirks, etc. Rosa María Vázquez is mostly decorative, although she is perfectly adequate in her role, while Gloria Marín does a good job as the slightly-addled Esperanza. Enrique Rambal has mostly a straight role, although his drunk scene lets him loosen up a bit, and Andrés Soler is his usual self albeit in a fairly small role. Miguel Angel Alvarez overacts as he usually does in comedies, and the trio of bank robbers--Trotsky, Federico González, and Frankestein--act like they are drunk, high, or mentally deficient in their scenes, giggling and smirking.

Amedee Chabot is definitely secondary to Rosa María Vázquez, but she makes the most of her scenes. The dubbing of Chabot's dialogue is especially good, matching her lip movements almost perfectly and--perhaps because she's playing a Mexican rather than a gringa--her voice seems a little more natural than usual (in some films she's dubbed to sound rather like Marilyn Monroe). She also looks great, although (in a shocking departure from the norm), she only appears in a bikini once (most of the time she's wearing voluminous artist's smocks and berets)!

Certainly highly recommended for Garcés fans, and generally recommended overall.

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