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Allá en el rancho grande / María Elena
Downtown Independent
Los Angeles, CA
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Allá en el rancho grande / María Elena
Allá en el rancho grande  (Out on the Big Ranch)  (Mexico, 1936)

Both the patrón of a Mexican ranch and his foreman love the same girl, but what is her preference?  Through a clever combination of romance, comedy, musical performance, idyllic hacienda setting and recognizable cultural types, this film created the template for the comedia ranchera genre that would soon become a staple of Mexican cinema.  By all accounts, Allá en el Rancho Grande was also the catalyst that kick-started the Mexican Golden Age, while it also revolutionized and invigorated Spanish-language film exhibition in Los Angeles through a symbiosis between cinema, popular music, live theater and star appearances.  Billed in local newspapers as the film that will make you feel more Mexican, its local promotion also capitalized on the nostalgia of immigrant audiences.  Drawing on the popularity of Mexican regional music in the U.S., Rancho Grande would also become a model emulated by Hollywood in its production of Pan-American musicals in the 1940s. Colin Gunckel

35mm, b/w, 98 min.  Director: Fernando de Fuentes.  Cast: Tito Guízar, René Cardona, Esther Fernández, Lorenzo Barcelata, Emma Roldan, Carlos López Chaflan.

María Elena  (She-Devil Island)  (Mexico, 1936)

María Elena makes a bad choice, allowing sexual desire to trump a sensible marriage, thus sending her faithful fisherman suitor across the sea.  There he learns of a mysterious island inhabited only by women.  María Elena was an early attempt at a formula that Allá en el Rancho Grande would soon perfect, including a heavy reliance on familiar songs, folkloric ambience, and conventions of popular theater.  The film notably includes a dance performance of La Bamba by Amparo Arozamena and Emilio Fernández, the latter of which would go on to become one of Mexicos most acclaimed directors.  As the first cinematic appearance of this song, it became a key element of the films promotion.  The
producers dubbed it into English as She-Devil Island, banking on the appeal of an island setting populated by scantily-clad women. In this incarnation, the film would circulate as part of exploitation double bills well into the 1950s.Colin Gunckel

35mm, b/w, 98 min.  Director: Fernando de Fuentes.  Cast: Tito Guízar, René Cardona, Esther Fernández, Lorenzo Barcelata, Emma Roldan, Carlos López Chaflan.

Recuerdos de un cine en español: Latin American Cinema in Los Angeles, 1930-1960 screens Sept. 23 - Dec. 10 at the Downtown Independent and UCLAs Billy Wilder Theater.  Enjoy access to all films in this series with a pass!

This retrospective is presented by UCLA Film & Television Archive, as part of the Getty-led Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative.  Major support for this program is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation.

Online admission:  $10
Box office admission:
General:  $9
Seniors:  $8
UCLA Alumni Association Members:  $8
Non-UCLA students:  $8
UCLA students:  Free.  UCLA students should claim the ticket at the box office on the day of the screening at least 15 minutes before show time.  If a UCLA student arrives closer to show time, they may be asked to wait in a rush line for any unsold seats.


Downtown Independent (View)
251 S Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
United States


Film > Movies

Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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