Cantinflas (2014)

Cantinflas (2014)

Actors: Oscar Jaenada, Michael Imperioli
Studio: Pantelion/ Lionsgate [12/2/14]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9
Audio: English and Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Length: 102 minutes
Rating: ***1/2

This is a bio of Mexico’s best-known comedy film star Mario Moreno, who called himself Cantinflas (which means the flea in the cantine). After his rise from sweeping floors in a tent show to a big-time film star, it focuses heavily on Mike Todd’s Around the World in 80 Days, in which he provided the comic relief as the character of Passepartout. The point of whether or not the successful Moreno will take the role in the movie is a major part of the plot. The other main actor plays Mike Todd. In the scene where Cantinflas receives a Golden Globe award for his part in Around the World in 80 Days, the actors who played Marlon Brando and others who lost out weren’t even close to appearing believable.

Since he started in the 1940s, Cantinflas never appeared in silent pictures, but is often compared to Charlie Chaplin for the baggy pants, raggy clothes, little mustache, hat and walking stick. His witty patter as the wiseacre peasant making fun of the upper-class was his general thing. Chaplin even wrote at one point that Cantinflas was the greatest film comic ever, which seems a bit hard to accept. There was quite a bit missing in the film, such as exactly how Cantinflas sudddenly became a successful film star, and I never got a feeling for his comedy, which didn’t seem to include much hilarious physical stuff as did Chaplin and Keaton.

The acting and filming seem of high quality, and I see it’s also available in a Blu-ray version which might look even better.

—John Sunier

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