Santo contra Capulina [Santo vs. Capulina]

(Prods. Zacarías, 1968) Prod: Alfredo Zacarías; Dir: René Cardona [Sr.]; Scr: Alfredo Zacarías; Photo: León Sánchez; Music: Manuel Esperón; Admin. General: Anuar Badín Zacarías; Prod Mgr: José Llamas Ultreras; Film Ed: Gloria Schoemann, Eufemio Rivera; Camera Op: Guadalupe García; Lighting: Fernando Calvillo; Sound Supv: James L. Fields; Union: STPC

CAST: Gaspar Henaine "Capulina" (Capulina), Santo (himself), Liza Castro (daughter of scientist), Crox Alvarado (chief of police), Carlos Agosti (Cedric), Miguel Gómez Checa (scientist), Nothanael León "Frankestein" (henchman), Mario García "Harapos" (toy store owner), Juan Garza (henchman); boys: René Cardona III, Jorge Guzmán*, Gerardo Badín, Guillermo Domínguez, Rogelio Guerra; Carlos Suárez (gym employee), Arturo Silva, Rogelio Gaona, Marisela Irigollen (female robot), Guillermo Hernández "Lobo Negro" (robot wrestler), Angel di Stefani (Capulina's boss)

*["Jorge Guzmán" is probably Santo's son, who later became El Hijo del Santo; René Cardona III is the director's grandson, Gerardo Badín is probably related to producer Anuar Badín. Rogelio Guerra is not the grown actor of the same name, but it could be his son?]

Mexico City release: December 1969; 1 week run; Authorization: A

NOTES: This isn't a great film or an awful one. It was certainly aimed more at Capulina's audience (particularly young children) than the average Santo fan (although of course Santo was popular with children as well)--there are no arena wrestling bouts in the film, and aside from a couple of scenes in a gym, Santo functions as a "straight" agent of the police, rather than a masked superhero-professional wrestler.

Technically, the film is barely adequate. Manuel Esperón's music score is often extremely inappropriate to the action unfolding on the screen, and Capulina has, as usual, "funny" theme music (to let the audience know that what is occurring is supposed to be humorous). The film has a limited cast, and Zacarías even skimps on the characters' names: neither Crox Alvarado, Liza Castro nor Miguel Gómez Checa have character names, and Carlos Agosti's character is called "Cedric" just once. Santo vs. Capulina seems to have been even cheaper than usual--much of the picture takes place in a "warehouse" stacked with cardboard boxes, hardly an expensive set to construct. The plot is also cut-rate, something about smuggling diamonds, but this quickly takes a back seat to the crooks' attempts to kill Santo. Exactly why the wheelchair-bound chief villain hates Santo so much isn't clear: one suspects that perhaps Santo had something to do with his disability, but this is never cleared up.

On the positive side, Capulina is (for him) relatively restrained and not too obnoxious (he even has a semi-good line: when Santo slams a door in the robot-Capulina's face, he says "Good thing I'm made out of rubber."). There are a few mildly amusing spots, and even Santo gets to tell a joke: Capulina asks Santo to show him how to wrestle, and Santo says "I'm going to show you some holds." However, the pun is that the word for wrestling hold is llave, which also means "key," so when Santo says "I'm going to show you some llaves," he promptly reaches into his pocket and pulls out a keyring, which he dangles in front of Capulina!

Capulina is a night watchman in a warehouse for an import/export firm, but as expected spends most of his time sleeping. Two crooks break in to steal a particular carton, but are surprised by Santo. A fight breaks out; Capulina sleeps through most of it, but finally wakes up and cheers Santo on. He tries to help out (at this point the fight, which was decently staged, goes on WAY too long), and traps one of the "crooks" in a crate--but it's really Santo! Both of the crooks get away.

The box they were trying to steal contains crockery which, when smashed, reveals diamonds inside. Santo and the police chief agree that there may be more in the warehouse, and decide to keep an eye on it. Meanwhile, Capulina has obtained a Santo mask in a toy store (after nearly wrecking the shop), and walks down the street wearing it. The two crooks from the warehouse spot him, and think it's the REAL Santo. "But he's so fat," one says. "Idiot," his partner replies, "he's probably wearing a bullet-proof vest." They follow Capulina to an athletic field, where he is "training" a group of young boys, and think they've discovered Santo's secret identity.

Santo, eating breakfast poolside at his palatial home, is startled to see a young woman in a bikini giving him the big eye. He pushes her into the pool, where she promptly explodes! She was a robot, constructed by a scientist in the employ of master criminal Cedric, who hates Santo.

At the gym, Santo catches a young woman hiding in his dressing room--she says she is a reporter who wants an interview and was trying to get a photo of him without his mask. In the gym, a new wrestler is defeating all of his opponents easily; Santo discovers that he is another robot.

That night at the warehouse, Santo asks Capulina to help him catch the crooks, and gives him a signal watch to call for help if he needs it. After Santo leaves, the two henchmen return to the warehouse to plant bombs and destroy the evidence, but are surprised by Capulina; thinking he is Santo, they flee. However, Cedric sends them back in, and they knock Capulina out and take him back to their hideout. The scientist makes a duplicate Capulina (just what we need, two Capulinas), but the rotund comedian makes his escape. Meanwhile, the chief of police has also been kidnaped and replaced with a robot double, which tries to kill Santo, but fails (Santo and Crox Alvarado have a brief but vigorous fight).

At the wrestling arena, the woman "reporter" is trying to vamp Santo in his dressing room when Capulina bursts in. He incoherently tries to explain what happened, but Santo brushes him off. A short time later, Capulina's robot double gives Santo a false lead to lure him into a trap later that night. The real Capulina thinks the young woman is Santo's girlfriend, and when she gives him a mini TV camera to get a shot of Santos sans mask, he agrees. The young woman is the daughter of the scientist working for Cedric: she is forced to aid the villain in order to save her father's life, since he is a prisoner rather than a willing ally of the smuggler.

Capulina asks Santo if he ever takes off his mask, to eat, sleep, wash, etc. "Of course I do, I wasn't born with it," Santo replies. He agrees to take off his mask if Capulina will help him catch the criminals--but he's wearing another, identical mask, underneath!

That night, the robot Capulina attacks Santo in the warehouse; with the aid of the real Capulina (wielding a baseball bat), the robot is subdued. (This is an interesting scene: the doubling for Capulina is good, but it is also of note to see that the REAL Capulina himself is taller than Santo!) Capulina, pretending to be the robot, allows himself to be taken back to Cedric's hideout. The scientist, his daughter, and the captive police chief try to escape; Santo also arrives. There is a general brawl in which the crooks are finally all captured. The film ends with a scene on the athletic field: the lazy Capulina is using Cedric's wheelchair as he forces his young friends to exercise!

Relatively easy to take, but no classic.


Reviewed by dw45@umail.umd.edu on 13 Feb 98.