Thursday, April 17, 2014

Movie of the Week: EL PADRECITO (1964) (Review)

El Padrecito ("The Little Priest") was the featured film for March 31st-April 7th.

I'd previously reviewed a Cantinflas film from 1950, and I must say that physical, Mr. Moreno didn't age one bit in the fourteen year span and he didn't lose that magic of his, either.

"The film finds an elderly priest (Padre Damián, played by Ángel Garasa) being informed that a young priest (Cantinflas) will be coming to his parish to become his 'assistant'. However, to the elderly priest, this really means the young man is coming to take his job. Because of this, the elderly priest is somewhat cold towards Cantinflas. However, the priest's sister (Sara, played by Angelines Fernández) is downright hostile--as are most of the people of the town. To make it even harder for Cantinflas are his odd ways--very odd for a priest. He just doesn't act very priest-like. Some of his ways were simply eccentric--and the town found them easy to criticize. A few of the ways, however, are hard to defend--such as his gambling to get parishioners to do what he wants (and it sure seems like he's cheating!). It's all very mod and hip--especially with his calls for economic justice. But, it's also very endearing and sweet. I could say more but don't want to ruin the plot. Suffice to say that by the end, he's won over the town and fixed everything--like some sort of social worker or 'fix-it' man." [IMDb Review


 Apparently, Cantinflas' later films sort of stuck to a certain formula, and according to critic reviews of El Padrecito, this film did exactly that. However, I haven't seen the other movies, so I will talk about El Padrecito with an objective eye. 

I really liked the story. It wasn't unique, but it was charming and heartfelt--it had that "family-friendly without being corny" vibe to it. The pace and comedic style was completely different from El Bombero Atomico (1950 film I previously reviewed). 


For some reason, I found Cantinflas' (for lack of a better term) "maturity"--the more relaxed version of his comedy style, rather--to be quite refreshing and delightful. By this time, he was a comedy legend, and appeared to be quite comfortable in who he was. His comfort made me feel comfortable watching him. As with El bombero atomico, the most subtle things that he did pulled the most raucous laughter out of me. He really did have a gift for this.

Watch Cantinflas "rock and roll" to "Ave Maria"!

Cantinflas, Ángel Garasa (Father Damián), and Angelines Fernández (as Sara, the sister of Father Damián) were the only performers who really stood out to me. While Fernandez and Garasa's performances were impassioned, Cantinflas brought that signature "boyish charm" to his performance. Everyone else--the characters and the actors--seemed a little uh...cartoonish, kind of.


The first "classic" films I ever watched were films released in the late 1950s/1960s (and 70s), so watching this gave me a feeling of nostalgia. It took me back to my younger years, watching movies like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? and Imitation of Life; Wait Until Dark and Please Don't Eat the Daisies on the weekends. They all had that warmness to them--the browns, oranges, pale blues, and reds. Watching movies from the late 50s, 60s, early 70s decades always evoke a bittersweet feeling of "growing up" in me.

No technical terms from me on this one. There were plenty of beautiful wide shots of different locations in Guanajuato, Mexico (where the movie was filmed)--shots of the city, the view of the church from the ground; shots of a quiet, peaceful neighborhood. It was a very pretty film to look at--very earthy in its coloring and in the colors of the set/costume design.

Overall Thoughts

Like an IMDb commentator stated, El padrecito isn't exactly a "must-see" film. It starts off a little slow, but soon starts to pick up. It could have been a little bit shorter, in my opinion, but overall, it is a sweet film to watch. Cantinflas' comedic (and musical) talents make up for the rough spots.

*Watch El padrecito on Youtube*

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