"SANTO" CONTRA LOS SECUESTRADORES [Santo versus the Kidnappers]

(Oro Films--Puerto Mex Films--Jorge Camargo, 1972) Exec Prod: Eduardo de la Barcena; Dir: Federico Curiel; Scr: Alfredo Salazar; Story: Fernando Osés; Photo: Luis Medina; Sub-Dir: Tony Rigus; Film Ed: Reynaldo Puente Portillo; Prod Chief: Leo Rivas Saenz in collab. with Marcelo Rivas y Asoc.; Camera Op: Tomás Pasten; Sound: Enrique Rodríguez

CAST: Santo (himself), Ernesto Albán "Evaristo" (Evaristo), Guillermo Gálvez (don César), Rossy Mendoza (Elsa Miller), Elizabeth Sartore (Rosita), Carlos Camacho Espiritu (?cop), Fernando Osés (Carlos), Carlos Suárez (don Justo), Oscar Guerra, Ismael Ramírez, John Bell, Lastenia Ribadeneira, Ximena Vega, Angelito Cornejo, Nancy Santore, Osvaldo Roberti, Jorge Estrella, Carlos Guerra, Marcelo Guerra

Mexico City release: September 1973; 1 week run; Authorization: A

NOTES: Shot in Ecuador, this Santo entry is not a bad film, although some viewers will feel that there is too much "Evaristo" comedy and not enough Santo action. Additionally, the plot is almost nonexistent and--very rare for a Santo film--has no fantastic elements whatsoever. Nonetheless, the production values are good, the direction sure-handed, the cast is competent (both Rossy Mendoza and Venezuelan beauty queen Elizabeth Sartore are attractive; Evaristo Albán isn't Charlie Chaplin but he isn't Capulina, either), and--although little use is made of it--Ecuador is at least a different setting for a Santo film.

Interpol's Office of Special Investigations sends Santo to Ecuador to investigate the kidnaping of Pedro Miller, a former counterfeiter (note: later in the film, a villain says Santo is an agent of the "FBI"). It is believed that Miller is being forced into working for a counterfeiting gang. Santo knows Elsa, Pedro's sister, who works as an exotic dancer in a Quito nightclub owned by don César. Elsa's "chauffeur" is cabbie Evaristo (who resembles Ludwig Stossel or the older Mickey Rooney), who drives a antique jalopy. Santo's assistants in Ecuador include the blonde Rosita (Santo asks her if she is afraid to be out fighting crime when she could be home with her husband and children, a transparent ploy--she naturally replies that she isn't married). Rosita proves that she is cool-headed when a gang of thugs (wearing cheap monster masks) assault Santo on a street. After a nice fight sequence (including some hand-held camera shots), Rosita draws the attention of the police by firing several shots into the air, and the criminals flee.

Evaristo wins 3 million sucres (Ecuadorian currency) on a horserace. A long sequence follows, as Evaristo, Santo, Elsa, Rosita, a policeman friend of Evaristo, and a judge (Carlos Suárez) celebrate his good luck by visiting the cabaret where Elsa works, a street fair, and the resort city of Guayaquil. While in Guayaquil, Santo is shot with a poisoned dart. [Later, Elsa calls Santo's hotel room and Rosita answers; she says Santo is recovered from the poison--meanwhile, he is lounging on the bed, without a shirt on. Could it be--?] Back in Quito, Evaristo discovers that his betting slip was a counterfeit!

Two wrestling bouts follow. One features Santo versus another masked luchador (this match was shot in a studio mockup of an arena). The second match is actuality footage of a real tag team match between Santo and a black wrestler (Dorrell Dixon?) and two un-named wrestlers (one wearing a red mask and one with long hair). It is interesting to note that this sequence begins with a shot of a lot of different wrestlers in a ring. Among those visible are Mil Máscaras and (possibly) Blue Demon (wearing a suit). The footage of a victorious Santo being escorted through a huge crowd of admirers by a phalanx of helmeted policemen is quite impressive.

The chief of the gang (wearing a black hat, mask and cloak) tells his henchman Carlos to kidnap Elsa and Santo. Pedro must create counterfeiting plates for them or Elsa will be killed. Santo asks Evaristo to wait in his hotel room in case an impor tant phone call comes through. While there, Evaristo helps himself to Santo's whiskey, and leafs through the wrestler's scrapbook (which consists mostly of snapshots of Santo with beautiful women). Eventually, he tries on one of Santo's spare masks, and knocks himself out while "shadow wrestling." Evaristo dreams that he is the victorious Santo who is congratulated (with kisses) by a trio of young women after a match. While he sleeps, the kidnappers enter the room and abduct him, believing he is Santo ! However, the real Santo hides in the trunk of their car and is taken to their hideout. Although Santo defeats the henchmen, they cannot identify their boss.

Meanwhile, the masked villain has kidnapped Elsa, thus forcing Pedro to complete the fake plates. Santo arrives in time to save their lives, defeating the gangleader and exposing him as don César. As the film ends, Santo prepares to depart for Mexico. He gives his car (a white '64-65 Chevrolet) to Evaristo (his old cab was wrecked), and makes a date to meet Rosita in Acapulco. Elsa and her brother thank the masked hero. As the film ends, Evaristo wrecks his new car into an ambulance, which is carrying his policeman friend, now restrained in a straitjacket due to Evaristo's outrageous behavior!

The fights in this film are well-staged and shot; in both these fights and the "official" wrestling bouts that Santo engages in, the Silver-Masked Man engages in some serious butt-kicking, with a lot of vicious kicks, knee drops, punches, and so forth. Some may recall that Santo spent the first two decades of his career as a professional wrestler as a rudo (tough guy wrestler), and this film gives ample proof of his fighting ability.

Note: this movie has been released on DVD in Mexico.


dwilt@umd.edu