(director/writer: Emilio Fernández; screenwriters: story by Emilio Fernández & Íñigo de Martino; cinematographer: Gabriel Figueroa; editor: Gloria Schoemann; music: Eduardo Hernández  Moncada; cast:  Maria Felix (Beatriz Peñafiel), Pedro Armendariz (General Jose Juan Reyes), Fernando Fernandez (Padre Rafael Sierra), Manuel Dondé (Fidel Bernal), Eugenio Rossi  (Eduardo Roberts), Jose Morcillo (Carlos Peñafiel), Eduardo Arozamena (Alcalde Joaquín Gómez), Juan García (Capt. Quiñones), Miguel Inclán (Capt. Bocanegra), Manuel Dondé (Fidel Bernal ), Norma Hill (Rosa de Bernal), Pascal Garcia Pena(Merolico), José Torvay (Maestro Apolonio Sánchez); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producer:Benito Alazraki Franco; PanAmerican Films/Azteca Films; 1946-Mexico-in Spanish with English subtitles-B/W)

“A brilliant reworking of The Taming of the Shrew.” 

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The writer-director Emilio Fernández was the most famous figure in the history of the Mexican film industry, who for a generation was a national symbol. Fernandez’s legendary on-and-off screen persona brings out a Mexican “machismo” that grew out of the Mexican Revolution of 1910-17 for the temperamental and at times violent man, who was fully committed to the defense of cultural nationalism–those ideals and values perceived as authentically “Mexican.”

Fernandez was born to an Indian mother in the Mexican state of Coahuila.

The romantic melodrama Enamorada was one of Mexico’s biggest hits at the time. It’s a brilliant reworking of The Taming of the Shrew. The final scene aped the final scene in Josef von Sternberg’s Morocco. The beloved film of the people was directed by the Mexican actor turned director Emilio Fernández (“Little Village”/”Pink Zone”). He wrote the story with Íñigo de Martino, and also wrote the screenplay.

During the Mexican Revolution, in the early twentieth century, a guerrilla general, Jose Juan Reyes (Pedro Armendariz), conquers the town of Cholula, near Mexico City, and demands that the rich give him money to support the revolution or be executed by the firing squad. The rabble revolutionary army mistreat the rich folks in their occupation. Meanwhile the General falls madly in love with the beautiful Beatriz Peñafiel (María Félix, Mexico’s greatest actress), the daughter of a wealthy father (Jose Morcillo). But she resists him.

How they eventually both fall in love is deftly handled with a light touch by Fernández, as he manages to avert the bloody side of the revolution for the romantic side.

The pivotal change for the General takes place when he visits his wise man priest (Fernando Fernandez) friend in church and is overwhelmed by the power of the Christian symbols and further moved by the church choir singing Ave Maria. Under the evening stars, evidently a changed man, the haughty and stern General will humble himself at the palatial home of Beatriz as a trio of musicians serenade her with La malaguena under her bedroom window while he begs for her forgiveness.This scene, one of the most famous in Mexican cinema, elevates the film into a more haunting spiritual realm.

The black-and-white cinematography by Gabriel Figueroa is sumptuous. The performances are all good, with the one by Maria Felix being hypnotic.

This almost forgotten hit Mexican film is a small gem and worth seeking out.

It was remade in 1950 as The Torch with Armendáriz repeating his role alongside Paulette Goddard.

REVIEWED ON 5/1/2020  GRADE:  A-