El matrimonio es como el demonio

[Marriage is Like the Devil, 1967]

Prod: Mario A. Zacarías; Dir: René Cardona Jr.; Scr: Mario A. Marzac; Photo: Raúl Martínez Solares; Music: Sergio Guerrero; Main title music: Jorge Ben ("Mas que nada"); Prod Mgr: Said Slim; Supv: Luis Zacarías; Prod Chief: Fidel Pizarro; Asst Dir: Américo Fernández; Film Ed: Alfredo Rosas Priego; Art Dir: Roberto Silva; Decor: Raúl Serrano; Camera Op: Cirilo Rodríguez; Makeup: Rosa Guerrero; Sound Supv: James L. Fields; Dialog Rec: Francisco Alcayde; Re-rec: Galdino Samperio; Sound Ed: José L-Ho; Eastmancolor; Union: STPC

CAST: Elsa Aguirre (Gilda Cervantes), Mauricio Garcés (Raúl Alvarez), Antonio Badú (Arturo), Nadia Haro Oliva (Helena), Maura Monti (Samanta), Carlos East (Carlos Encira), Karla (Andrea Cervantes), Luis Manuel Pelayo (Socrates), Amadee Chabot (Bárbara), Evangelina Elizondo (Sra. de Encira), René Cardona Sr. (Ramón), Eduardo Alcaras [sic] (Antonio Encira), Teddy Stauffer (Teddy Chrysler Jr.), Sandra Boyd, Isela Vega, Vitola (Mrs. Williams), Angelina Castani, Lina Marín, Christa Linder (guest at Reseña)

NOTES: first, a note about existing versions of this film--García Riera's book lists this as running 105 minutes, but he mentions that he saw a cut version on television, minus the scene with Isela Vega. The pre-record I saw clocks in at about 83 minutes, and does not include either Isela Vega or Lina Marín. While there do not appear to be any glaring holes in the plot, the film is so episodic that it would be hard to tell if some sequences were missing. However, 22 minutes seems like a lot of footage to lose.

El matrimonio es como el demonio is a sequel to El día de la boda, dropping Enrique Rambal, Lucy Gallardo, Irma Lozano and José Roberto Hill, and promoting the Elsa Aguirre-Mauricio Garcés story to the primary position. Antonio Badú and Nadia Haro Oliva get a little more footage this time around, but are a minor sub-plot regardless.

The credits sequence is very interesting. Scored to an instrumental version of the instantly-familiar "Mas que nada" (a Brazilian hit for Sergio Mendes), the credits appear over scenes from the Reseña de Cine in Acapulco, a film festival of sorts. There are shots of an awards ceremony and of guests in the audience, and there is a split-second shot of Teddy Stauffer sitting at a table next to Christa Linder! Stauffer, a former bandleader (and one-time husband of Hedy Lamarr), was an Acapulco entrepreneur and international playboy who helped popularize the resort among the "jet set." He more or less plays himself in El matrimonio es como el demonio, although he's called "Teddy Chrysler Jr.," which allows Mauricio Garcés to make some car-related jokes about his name. Curiously, while later in the film there is one reference to the Reseña, it does not figure in the plot at all, making the credits sequence a real mystery. It is interesting to speculate, however, that this could give a clue to Christa Linder's entrance into the Mexican film industry: if she had attended the Reseña for other reasons (she might have even known Stauffer, who was born in Europe), maybe she was "discovered" there by Mexican filmmakers and this led to her work in Mexico!

As seen in the previous movie, Raúl and Gilda practice "free love," insisting that marriage would mean nothing to their relationship. However, Gilda is worried that her daughter Andrea is being adversely affected by the example she is setting. Gilda and Raúl, celebrating their second "anniversary" at a restaurant, accidentally meet Andrea, her boyfriend Carlos, and Carlos' parents. His father is a member of the diplomatic corps. Andrea introduces Raúl as her father, but Carlos is suspicious, since she had earlier told him that her father was injured and couldn't leave the house. Eventually, Raúl's partner Arturo and his wife Helena decide that Raúl and Gilda have to get married; the foursome goes out to dinner, and when Raúl and Gilda get drunk, they wind up married! Gilda and Andrea move into Raúl's apartment, much to the distress of his majordomo Socrates, and to the consternation of Raúl's other female friends and neighbors. When one of these--the gringa Bárbara, who calls from her bubble bath to invite Raúl over--connects with Gilda by mistake, the brief marriage is on the rocks. Andrea, who has come to treat Raúl as if he were her real father, and Gilda move out.

Trying to get over Gilda, Raúl visits Acapulco, where he hooks up with Bárbara. However, Raúl sees Gilda and Andrea being squired around the resort by playboy Teddy Chrysler Jr. Trying to impress Bárbara and make Gilda jealous, Raúl tells Socrates to run a yacht that is bigger than Teddy's, but he winds up with a small speedboat. Even this gets worse, as Raúl, Socrates, and Bárbara are stranded in the middle of the bay when the motor dies, and have to row in to shore.

Raúl finally reconciles with Gilda; he tells her that their marriage was a fake, but now he wants to really marry her. She agrees, and then tells him that she is pregnant!

El matrimonio es como el demonio has a secondary sub-plot depicting Arturo's affair with Samanta. In one rather sad scene (although played for laughs), Arturo's wife Helena (Nadia Haro Oliva, apparently pretending to be French) dresses in a skimpy nightgown and tries to seduce her husband when he returns home from a "business trip" (he was actually carousing in Acapulco with Samanta), but he says he has a headache! Later, Samanta is visiting Arturo in his office when Helena arrives; she is rushed into Raúl's office, but it turns out Gilda is also arriving, so Samanta is stuffed into a closet. The two couples go out to dine, and Arturo doesn't remember Samanta until he arrives in his office the next day! He opens the closet to find her asleep on the floor, and has to give her a new car to pacify her. Samanta also has a "dramatic" scene with her father Ramón, one of Arturo's employees: Ramón reproaches her for having an affair with a married man, but Samanta says she's been working for a living (as a model) since she was 15, and realizes that her father practically considers her a prostitute, but she has no other options.

In the end, El matrimonio es como el demonio is fairly conventional in its morals (although Arturo's pattern of infidelity is unlikely to change and Bárbara and Samanta seem doomed to be gold-diggers): Raúl and Gilda do the right thing (get married) ostensibly for the right reasons (they love each other), but it seems clear that public opinion and Gilda's pregnancy would have forced them to get married anyway. Andrea rejects her boyfriend after he tries to "take advantage of her"--Raúl not only foils this (he happens to be sleeping on the sofa when they enter his apartment), he also expresses his concern for Andrea in a fatherly way, which encourages her to "respect herself" and wait for a better match to come along. So, despite the spicy nature of the situations, dialogue and visuals (Elsa Aguirre appears topless--from behind--and nearly loses her towel in the final scene, while Amedee Chabot has one scene in a bubble bath and Maura Monti's cleavage is high-lighted in nearly all of her scenes), the film really isn't too daring.

Back to the Amedee Chabot or Christa Linder pages.

Review posted 3 November 2000 by D. Wilt (dw45@umail.umd.edu)