Home #Hwoodtimes Robert Gavaldón’s Retrospective – Mexican Films at the Academy Museum

Robert Gavaldón’s Retrospective – Mexican Films at the Academy Museum

Dolores de Rio in Robert Gavaldón's La Otra (1946)

By Jim Gilles

A scene from Gavaldón’s In the Palm of Your Hand

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 1/6/22 – Coming to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles is a retrospective of the films of Mexican director Roberto Gavaldón, beginning January 6 and running through January 23, 2022. The work of Mexican director Roberto Gavaldón spans the cultural divide at the center of Mexican national cinema, embracing both rural sagas of peasant life (the genre made internationally famous by Gavaldón’s contemporary, Emilio Fernández) and urban dramas centered on moneyed professionals (as in the cosmopolitan work of Julio Bracho). Whether they wear a sombrero (like Pedro Armendáríz in Rosauro Castro) or a fedora (like Arturo de Córdova in En la palma de tu mano), Gavaldón’s protagonists are marked by ungovernable passions and gnawing self-doubt, as they move through an unstable world toward a frequently unkind fate.

Dolores del Rio as a bad twin in La Otra

A brilliant technician, Gavaldón developed a distinctive visual style—based on bold back-lighting and intricately subdivided spaces—that suggests the film noir stylings of Hollywood directors like Anthony Mann and Joseph H. Lewis. With the assistance of such regular collaborators as the cinematographer Alex Phillips, the writer and political activist José Revueltas, and the composer Raúl Lavista, Gavaldón created a dense and coherent body of work that is only now being rediscovered, thanks largely to the ongoing restoration work of Mexico’s two major film archives, the Cineteca Nacional and the Filmoteca de la UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico)..

Rosa Blanca directed by Robert Gavaldón

This is the first of three film series that celebrate Mexican cinema and is presented with the generous support of Televisa Foundation-Univision. This series of 10 films directed by Robert Gavaldón will run January 6 through January 23, 2022. To check out the entire series and purchase tickets, go to:

Dolores del Rio in La Otra

The series opens January 6, 7:30 pm at David Geffen Theatre at the Academy Museum with Rosa Blanca (The White Rose, 1961), directed by Roberto Gavaldón and based on a novel by German writer living in Mexico – Bruno Traven, who is also known as the author of the novel that John Huston made into The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948). The story is based on real events that occurred in Veracruz in the 1930s, when México nationalized its oil. In the film, an executive of an American company pays to kill a peasant whose farm Rosa Blanca is rich in oil, with the complicity of the authorities of Veracruz. Although it was completed in 1961, the Mexican government considered that the subject matter of the film was “too delicate”, because there was a boom in the oil industry, so it was shelved and remained unreleased for eleven years until 1972. This is an excellent, cynical but deeply moving film which is generally difficult to see. In attendance at this screening will be special guests Roberto Gavaldon Jr & Gabriel Figueroa Jr.

Maria Feliz as femme fatale in La Diosa Arrodillada

On Saturday, January 8, 7:30 pm at the Ted Mann Theatre of the Academy Museum will be a screening of La Otra (The Other One, 1946), starring Dolores Del Rio in a dual role as identical twins – one good, one bad. It also stars the handsome Agustín Irusta, Víctor Junco and José Baviera. The film won the Ariel Award in Mexico for Best Screenplay by José Revueltas and numerous award nominations.

On the same evening of Saturday, January 8, at 9:30 pm at the Ted Mann Theatre of the Academy Museum will be a screening of La Diosa Arrodillada (The Kneeling Goddess, 1947), directed by Robeto Gavaldón and starring Maria Félix as an artist model who leads the hapless Arturo de Córdova away from the arms of his innocent, blue-eyed wife and down into the ecstatic depths of degradation. The best scene takes place in a seedy Panamanian nightclub.

On Monday, January 10, 7:30 pm at the Ted Mann Theatre of the Academy Museum will be a screening of En la palma de tu manu (In the Palm of Your Hand, 1951), a Mexican crime drama by Roberto Galvaldón that won 8 Ariel Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, as well as its all-star cast which included Arturo de Córdova, Leticia Palma, Carmen Montejo, Ramón Gay and Consuelo Guerrero de Luna. In the screenplay by José Revueltas, a fortune teller blackmails a beautiful widow whose husband has recently died.  


On selected dates, there will be music in the Sidney Poitier Grand Lobby of the Academy Museum curated by LA-based ranchera punk artist and singer-songwriter San Cha. Music playlists curated by artists Doris Muñoz, Cesar Saez, Joel Jerome, and Maurice de la Falaise will play in the theater before all screenings in the series. The Series community partnership was provided by El Cine, Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today by Hola Mexico, and the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles.