This summer, the Museum brings a selection of extraordinary films from Mexico to the big screen! Mexican Modernism: The Golden Age of Mexican Cinema is not only a treat for movie lovers like me, but also a natural complement to the exhibition Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910–1950. Cinema was an integral part of the struggle of the Mexican Revolution: Hollywood producers filmed many revolutionary events, and Pancho Villa even signed a contract with the U.S. studio Mutual Film Corporation in 1914 to allow cameras to follow him in to attacks and battles.
That film-centered exchange between countries continued outside of the Mexican Revolution, as the sharing of cinematic talent and technology became an essential element of U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy. The effort to strengthen the Allied effort against the rise of fascism included the strengthening of the United States’ bonds with the Mexican film industry.
In addition to its role in international relations, Mexican cinema was a popular art that combined stories and ideas as it celebrated the country’s history, culture, music, and way of life. Many Mexican stars of the period—including Pedro Armendáriz, Cantinflas, Arturo de Córdova, Dolores del Río, Maria Félix, and Jorge Negrete—became worldwide celebrities.
The films in the Museum’s series cover a gamut of styles and stories: comedies, melodramas, revolutionary historical epics, musicals, dramas, thrillers, film noirs, and intimate stories that are singular and universal. The excellent copies of the films, restored by the Cineteca Nacional de México, truly bring out the magnificent cinematography.
See the films from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema through September 30.