La sombra vengadora

Rating: 6 out of 10.

All but forgotten, but immensely important for the birth of the luchador superhero genre, this 1954 romp following the exploits of “The Avenging Shadow” is a surprisingly good action film in the Republic serial vein. 6/10

La sombra vengadora. 1954, Mexico. Directed by Rafael Baledón. Written by Ramón Obón. Starring: Fernando Osés, Armando Silvestre, Alicia Caro, Rodolfo Landa, Pedro de Aguillón, Yerye Beirute. Produced by Luis Manrique. IMDb: 6.4/10. Rotten Tomatoes: N/A. Metacritic: N/A.

This is the second lucha libre film I review on Scifist, the first being El enmascarado de plata (1954, review), or “The Man in the Silver Mask”. While several films had been made since the beginning of the fifties either set in the world of Mexican show wrestlers, or with so-called luchadores as heroes, a distinct subgenre was slowly being formed — that of the luchador as a masked vigilante in the vein of of Batman or The Green Hornet. What set El enmascarado de plata and La sombra vengadora (“The Avenging Shadow”) apart is that neither of them made any reference to their heroes as having careers as wrestlers, but simply presented them as masked superheroes. La sombra vengadora was the first of four films made in 1954 and 1957 featuring the luchador hero La Sombra (“The Shadow”), played in all four films by Fernando Osés (when masked).

The copy I watched had no subtitles, but with a brief online synopsis and a few Spanish words I was able to pick up her and there, I had no problem whatsoever to follow the plot — which I suppose is a sign of a good action movie. Evil mastermind La Mano Negra (“The Black Hand”) is kidnapping scientists, trying to force them to help him create a new synthetic drug. When they can’t or won’t do his bidding they are killed by Mano Negra’s mysterious executioner, The Man with the Yellow Eyes. All except Dr. Everardo Fuentes (Carlos Martínez Baena), a wheelchair-bound scientist that Mano Negra knows possesses the secret he wants, but refuses to reveal it.

The Black Hand.

The next scientist on Mano Negra’s list is Dr. Henry Williams (Rodolfo Landa). In the line of fire is also William’s handsome colleague Rogelio (Armando Silvestre), his girlfriend Margarita (Alicia Caro), who also happens to be the daughter of Dr. Fuentes, comic sidekick Eduardo (Pedro de Aguillón), as well as hunky assistant Igor (Yerye Beirute). But when Mano Negro’s goons turn up to kidnap Williams, Sombra leaps to the rescue, clad in tights, cape, mask and absolutely no shirt. Inspired as the luchador movies were by the Republic serials, the actual plot is minimal, and what exists is mainly there to usher our heroes and victims from one action-packed sequence to another. Much of it takes place at an abandoned hacienda outside of town, where Eduardo and Margarita are locked in a flooded basement and Sombra escapes getting burned alive, dodges bullets, scales ruin walls and takes on half a dozen henchmen at a time in a fistfight. At another time he leaps onto the roof of a speeding car and charges a hailstorm of bullets. Inevitably, however, Margarita is kidnapped and put in a timed death trap worthy of a James Bond movie, leaving Fuentes the choice of revealing his secret or watching his daughter die. Finally, Sombra and Mano Negro meet mano a mano, and in the end the secret identity of the Black Hand is revealed.

Armando Silvestre (left) and Rodolfo Landa.

As stated, the film owes much to the Republic serials, but also to El enmascarado de plata. In both films our masked luchador fights a masked villain, who in turn enlists a second masked villain to do his evil biddings. Both of them have secret laboratories with electrical gadgets and bubbly liquids in beakers, although in the case of La sombra vengadora it is unclear what what the purpose of the hero’s lab is. In El enmascarado de plata, the hero, El Medico Asesino, used a number of SF gadgets, whereas Sombra relies exclusively on his fists, leaps and wrestling moves. In both films we find the bad guys (inevitably gangster types) hiding out in a dark basement lair, where the villain reveals himself backlit in what looks like a mirror cabinet to give them orders and instructions. Both films also build up a mystery around the identity of the masked avenger. The viewer will quickly realise that neither Rogelio nor Igor are ever present in a room with Sombra, leaving the audience to guess which of the two hunky thirty-somethings is the man in the mask. This was a short-lived trope carried over from the American films serials that eventually disappeared from the luchador movies as the luchador heroes became almost mythological entities who walked around in masked avenger mode 24/7.

Fernando Osés as La Sombra deals out a flying kick in on of the great action scenes.

One thing that separates the two films is the fighting style of the heroes. Medico (Cesáreo González) was a slugger, and most of the action in El enmascarado de plata consists of Medico slowly moving through a room, dealing out punches left and right. Fernando Osés, playing Sombra, was a much more athletic wrestler, allowing for fast-paced and dynamic action scenes. And make no mistake, it is the action that is the draw of La sombra vengadora. Rafael Baledón, while still relatively new to the director’s chair, directs with dynamism and and a flair for the dramatic. The scene with Eduardo and Margarita trapped in a flooding basement while Sombra battles goons on the ground is skillfully shot and well edited by Juan José Marino. Cinematographer Augustín Martínez Solares even throws in a little underwater photography of Sombra breaking out of the underwater prison he gets himself trapped in. Overall, the cinematography and editing is good. When El enmascarado de plata feels like the serial it was originally intended as, La sombra vengadora feels more like a a feature film, and at 80 minutes in length it doesn’t feel over-long, as opposed to its predecessor. However, there are sources that claim that it was edited from a serial, along with it sequel La sombra vengadora contra la mano negra (although there seems to be no real proof of this). It’s just too bad that the copies available are generally of rather poor quality. Sergio Guerrero’s bombastic, symphonic score helps sell the danger and suspense well. The movie also features a rendition of Pepe Guízar’s hit song “Guadalajara” complete with a number of the jarabe tapatio, the national Mexican tap dance. I’m not sure this musical number adds anything to the film, but it’s short and entertaining enough not to bog the movie down. Extensive location shooting helps to counterbalance the low budget, even if the stage-set scenes feel cramped. Special effects are few and far between, but work well when incorporated. There’s a bit of special makeup effects in the film, which are clearly done on a budget, bit director Baledón wisely keeps the reveals short enough for the audience not to have time for closer scrutiny.

Pedro de Aguillón as Eduardo getting closely acquainted with the cutlery.

The acting is good overall, or at least as good as it needs to be for an action film of this kind. US-born Armando Silvestre, who is first-billed, does little in this movie that is memorable, and it is his darker Costa Rican counterpart Yerye Beirute who steals the spotlight among the civilian actors, along with Pedro de Aguillón as the comic sidekick. Aguillón’s histrionics threaten to become a bit tiresome in the long run, but thankfully he doesn’t play it up more than necessary, and the fact that Eduardo shows that he can hold his own in a fistfight does much to redeem the character. Colombian Alicia Caro gets little to do in the role as the damsel in distress, but does it with confidence. Rodolfo Landa carries the role of Dr. Williams with stiff authority and Carlos Martínez Baena does the kidnapped scientist by the numbers. The star, of course, is Fernando Osés as Sombra, a character which needs little in terms of acting skills, but Osés carries the role with superb athleticism and charisma.

The plot is, of course, perfunctory at best. But the film moves along at a good pace, and Ramón Obón’s script shows that he knows how to steal from the best. Take away the luchador element, and this film is pretty much a copy of a Republic film serial and brings little originality to the table.

A lucha match in 1952 with the famous Santo on the mat.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of Mexican show wrestling and the luchador films, please head over to my review of El enmascarado de plata, where I have written at length about these subjects. Suffice to say, lucha libre was a hugely popular phenomenon in Mexico, especially among the working class, from the thirties onward. It grew in popularity with the meteoric rise of El Santo (Rodolfo Guzman Huerta), and the beginning of televised wrestling events in Mexico in 1948. By 1952, Santo was considered a national hero and even had a comic book series devoted to him. Mexican cinema, far past its Golden Age in the thirties, was struggling to compete with foreign imports, mainly from the US. Unsurprisingly, Mexican filmmakers turned to lucha libre in order to try and lure movie goers to see domestically produced films. Not only was the sport hugely popular, it had developed into a distinctly Mexican phenomenon, which couldn’t be provided by Hollywood studios. The first lucha films were traditional melodramas set in the lucha libre world, but El enmascarado de plata opened the floodgates for a wholly new subgenre of films. Between 1954 and 1961 three very popular film series were produced, the first being the Sombra vengadora quadrilogy, which in turn inspired Rafael Portillo’s Aztec mummy trilogy, which is probably the best remembered of the three. A third series concerned three lucha brothers called Los Tigres. The most popular star was probably Crox Alvarado, owing to the fact that he was an established actor and heart-throb by the time he started drawing on his old career in lucha libre on screen (although he seldom played any of the masked marvels). Other stars were Murcielago Velásquez, Latvian-born Wolf Ruvinskis (who originated the character Neutron) and Fernando Osés. In 1958 Osés wrote two films in which he himself played he central hero El Incognito, and managed to convince Santo himself to appear as his sidekick. Santo had been courted numerous times, in fact he was considered for the title role in El enmascarado de plata, but was wary of entering the movie business. And rightly so, it seemed, as as the producers failed to find distribution for Osés’ two films. However, in 1961 he teamed up once again with Osés in 1961 for Santo contra los zombies, and the success of this movie allowed for the re-packaging of the two previous films, by simply making Santo the main hero. Thus, in the same year were released Santo contra cerebro del mal and Santo contra hombres infernales. And the rest is history.

Alicia Caro and Rodolfo Landa.

La sombra vengadora is such an obscure film that doing any internet research on the subject is difficult, and unfortunately there are a number of questions regarding this film. One fairly straightforward one is its release date. Different sources give either 1954 or 1956 as the year of its release. IMDb, for example, claims the latter. However, the most reliable source I have yet to dig up, The Mexican Film Bulletin, claims that the first two Sombra vengadora films were made pretty much back-to-back in 1954, so that is what I am going with. The second problem I have been struggling with is whether or not the film had a sequel called La sombra vengadora contra la mano negra. I ordered both films from an online bootleg retailer, but both DVD:s contained the same film, the first one. IMDb has the sequel, but with an almost exactly similar cast and crew list, as well as synopsis as for the first movie. And like the first, I can find almost no info on the latter online. However, my two best sources on Mexican genre film, Fantafilm and The Mexican Film Bulletin confirm the sequel exists. According to David Wilt at The Mexican Film Bulletin, the two movies were shot almost-back-to-back in Mexico City and its surroundings, using pretty much the same cast and crew, which adds to the confusion, as well as the idea that the films may have been part of a serial. However, according to Wilt there is no indication that they would ever have been shown in any other form than as two feature films. I was also able to track down a book called The Mexican Wrestler and Monster Movie Filmography by Bobb Cotter. Cotter also notes the many similarities to the Republic serials, but denies that the films would have had their origins in a serial. My next task will be to see if I can track down an actual copy of La sombra vengadora contra la mano negra. I anyone of my readers can point me in the right direction, please leave a comment below this post, or drop me a line through the contact form.

Alicia Caro.

La sombra vengadora, as stated, has no actual online reviews, at least that I can find. The film did get a US release, although it flew pretty much under the media radar, as it was distributed by Clasa-Mohme exclusively for Latino audiences. Today it has a 6.4/10 rating on IMDb, but as this is based on less than 30 votes, it is hardly a reliable figure. The only thing resembling a review I can find online is Marty McKee’s user review at Letterboxd, in which he gives the film 3/5 stars, calling the action scenes “exciting”. McKee writes: “Full of futuristic props, raucous fights and chases, hidden doors, and last-second escapes, The Avenging Shadow, released in Mexico in 1954 [sic!], was vital in establishing the Mexican superhero genre.”

However, I have managed to track down a PDF copy of The Mexican Film Bulletin’s review from 2018, which reads as follows: “La Sombra Vengadora is very entertaining, full of action and serial-style “cliffhangers”. The music score is excellent, and the underrated Rafael Baledón turns in a fine directorial effort, making good use of location shooting, varying the camera angles during fight scenes, and minimizing the shortcomings of the plot.” The magazine calls the film “a fun picture, although not without a few flaws and continuity problems”. Bobb Cotter in The Mexican Masked Wrestler and Monster Filmography writes: “The La Sombra series turned to the serials for their inspiration, and, although not actual cliffhangers, the movies came out so quickly in succession that they must have seemed like chapterplays. The pacing and plot-devices were very serial-like, and the action proved quite spectacular, damn near up to the standards of the Republic Studio classics. This was due to the brisk direction by Baledón, and, more importantly, the spectacular athletics of Fernando Osés.”

The Man with the Yellow Eyes standing over Alicia Caro.

I have little to add to the critique of McKee and Cotter. Compared to El enmascarado de plata, La sombra vengadora is a much more solid film, and while still a highly derivative low-budget action clunker, it has enough cinematic values, good enough acting and great enough action that it breezes along as a fun, entertaining and wholly harmless family movie. If the script is sometimes a bit flaky, the craftsmanship is solid, as is the enthusiasm.

McKee writes that it is not very well know how the character of La Sombre came to existence. We do know that he was created by Ramón Obón, who held his copyright over the years. The name possibly and probably harked back to the legendary US radio and pulp magazine hero The Shadow, one of the very first masked menaces. There was also a Mexican comic strip character called La Sombra in the 30’s with a costume slightly resembling La Sombra’s, but McKee figures this is probably a coincidence. As opposed to El Medico Asesino, Murcielago or Santo, La Sombra did not travel from the ring to the movie screen, but was an original character. He did, however, enter the ring in 1958, not portrayed by Fernando Osés, who had put his wrestling career behind him in 1958, but by Rogelio de la Paz, who would go on to have the longest career of any Mexican wrestler, indeed perhaps any wrestler in the world. He retired in 2011, at the age of 80, and even had time to enjoy a few years’ retirement, as he passed away in 2020. His three sons wrestled under different “Sombra Jr.” sobriquets, and even his grandson entered the ring as Mini Sombra Vengadora. Sombra is often confused with Rayo de Jalisco, because of Rayo’s almost identical suit and mask. In fact, Rayo copied his dress from the La Sombra films, with the one modification that the lightning bolt on his mask is on the other side of his nose and mouth.

La sombra vengadora.

If the plot of La sombra vengadora resembles that of El enmascarado de plata, it should come as no surprise, as both films were written by Ramón Obón, making Obón the unsung originator of the luchador movie genre as we know it. Unfortunately very little is known about Obón — who passed away in 1965. He is not to be confused with his son Ramón Obón Jr., also a screenwriter and author to boot.

Fernando Oses, the man behind the mask.

Another key “creator” of La Sombra was of course the man who played him, Fernando Osés. Bobb Cotter writes that he “virtually created the genre”. Recounting all the lucha movies Osés was involved with would be a futile exercise. He acted in dozens upon dozens, both heroes and villains, sometimes in costume, sometimes out of. He also wrote a good number of them, including many of the classics featuring Santo and Blue Demon. Spanish-born (1922) Osés grew up in Morocco, the son of a high-ranking Spanish soldier, fought in the Battle of Stalingrad in WWII, and after the war started in Spanish show wrestling along with his friend Eduardo Bonada. According to Mundo Wrestling there are several conflicting accounts on why Osés moved to South America in the late forties, but whatever the case, he first arrived in Venezuela, where he began a tour as a show wrestler which took him to Mexico City in 1950. Here he reunited with his old friend Bonada, and the two teamed up as an all-Spanish tag team. Bonada had married the sister of Mexican movie star Tin Tan, and was hired as the stunt double for singer and actor Pedro Infante. Through Bonada, Osés got his first movie job in the 1952 wrestling movie The Magnificent Beast. Following the success of the 1953 movie Hurricane Ramírez, the character was transferred to the ring, with both Osés and Bonada at one point playing him, before the role went permanently to Daniel Garcia Artega, in 1953 or 1954, depending on sources.

Fernando Osés.

In 1954 Osés suffered an injury, which led him to more or less leave the ring behind, and instead started focusing on film work. He had done a couple of bit-parts and extra work, but La sombra vengadora was his breakthrough on the big screen. He went on to play Sombra in all of its three immediate sequels in 1954, and then turned his sights on Santo. While it might have happened sooner or later, we have Osés to thank for convincing Santo to enter the movie business. For years producers had begged Santo to star in movies, as stated, El enmascarado de plata was supposed to be a Santo vehicle, but Santo was wary. According some sources, Santo feared that his movies would flop, damaging his reputation. Perhaps the clincher for Osés was that he offered Santo the role of the sidekick to his own hero, El Incognito. Whatever the cause, Santo agreed to make what would ultimately be released in 1961 as Santo contra cerebro del mal and Santo contra hombres infernales. Santo came to trust Osés, and the vast majority of the scripts written for him in the 60’s were penned by Osés. All inall, Osés collaborated with Santo in 23 different films. Osés worked with most of the stars of the wrestling screen in he 60’s and 70’s, however, when it came to directing, he left the lucha world behind. In the late seventies, he directed three films, that at least from their names, posters and roles, sound more like traditional crime and western movies. In the mid-seventies, the lucha genre was losing steam, and Osés turned to more traditional fare, with only modest success. However, he kept working until the nineties. He played his last role in 1990 and delivered his last screenplay in 1996. Of his 22 films that may be considered SF, though, only two fall outside the lucha genre, El regreso del monstruo (1959), on which he worked as writer and production manager, and the John Carradine vehicle La señora Muerte (1969), in which he had a small bit-part role. Osés passed away in 1999. According to one source, Osés collaborated on up to 250 movies in his career, although this may be a slight exaggeration.

Director Rafael Baledón.

Director Rafael Baledón was one of the many talents within the Mexican movie business that did a bit of everything. This seems to be a trait common to many Latin American film industries, that the boundaries between different job descriptions have been very thin. Oftentimes directors would star in each other’s films, turn up as writers for a third project and compose the music for a fourth. It wasn’t unusual for films to have two or even three directors. I’ll leave the explanation for this to someone better acquainted with the history of Mexican cinema than me. Rafael Baledón started his career as an actor in the late forties and had something of a breakthrough in 1943, when he played the male lead in María Eugenia, the second film of up-and-coming superstar María Félix. He was a staple in Mexican films of the latter Golden Age, but never counted among its genuine stars. In 1953 he turned to directing, primarily lighter fare and comedies, including a few films with comedy star Tin Tan, but as is evident from La sombra vengadora, he clearly had an interest in genre film from the start. After La sombra vengadora and La sombra vengadora contra la mano negra, he also directed the two following Sombra sequels in 1957, El tesoro de Pancho Villa and El secreto de Pancho Villa, both or which were filmed at the famed Hacienda La Encarnación. Around the same time, at the same location he also shot the bizarre “monster” movie El Pantano de las ánimas. However, Baledón is not primarily remembered by genre fans for his lucha films, but rather his horror movies, in particular the Abel Alazar classics The Man and the Monster (1959), a tight little Faust/Wolf Man mashup, and The Curse of the Crying Woman (1963). Apart from his luchador films, he also directed a handful of other SF movies, including The Hell of Frankenstein (1960), as well as Muñecas peligrosas, Con licencia para matar and the comedy Cazadores de espías, all in 1969. During the latter part of acting his career he transitioned to TV, and became a well-known star of the Telenovela scene.

Armando Silvestre.

Now, then, some belated congratulations are in order. For La sombra vengadora’s romantic lead, Armando Silvestre, the 6th of January, 2022 marked a 96th birthday for the retired(?) actor who has been making films across 8 decades. Hailing from Tijuana, Mexico, Silvestre was actually born a couple of miles across the US border in San Diego in 1926 to a prominent merchant family. In his youth he took up bullfighting, but quit when he was severely gored by a bull, and instead excelled in upper class sports like horse riding, golf, sailing and diving. Apparently of good physical stock, his brother Eduardo was a body builder, who in 1959 was crowned the IFBB Mr. Universe (now known as the  World Amateur Bodybuilding Championship, and not to be confused with the NABBA Mr. Universe championships). Armando’s screenwriter aunt encouraged him to consider acting as a profession, and he enrolled in Japanese expat Seki Sano’s prestigious acting school. Movie producers soon took notice of the beefcake actor and in the late forties he started getting cast as extra and minor roles. Two of his first on-screen appearances were uncredited bit-parts in films shot by RKO in Mexico. He played an “Aquitanian” in Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948) and Benny the Bartender in Robert Wise’s Mystery in Mexico (1948). In 1949 he had his first starring role, and turned heads as the shirtless Coyote Iguana opposite Rumbera star Meche Barba in Lola Casanova. Hollywood called in 1950, when Universal offered him two minor supporting roles in the B-westerns Wyoming Mail and Apache Drums. This marked the beginning of a long career divided between Mexico and the US, where Silvestre eventually settled. He appeared in over a dozen Hollywood westerns, not infrequently as a Native American. He appeared in such films as Kings of the Sun (1963) with Yul Brynner, Sydney Pollack’s The Scalphunters (1968), starring Burt Lancaster, Barquero (1970) with Lee Van Cleef, and not least in Don Siegel’s classic Clint Eastwood outing Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970).

Silvestre in the Hollywood film “Scalphunters” in 1968.

La sombra vengadora was Silvestre’s first appearance in a lucha movie, and it opened a new career for him as a popular action lead both in lucha movies and other genres, no doubt helping him get a foot in the door to Hollywood as well. He appeared alongside Wolf Ruvinskis in the movie that first introduced Neutron, Neutron and the Black Mask (1960), as well as Santo’s “first” movie Santo vs. the Zombies (1962). He was seen again with Neutron in Neutron vs. the Death Robots (1962) and Neutron vs. the Amazing Dr. Caronte (1963). He teamed up with lucha libre and horror legend, director René Cardona in three female wrestler or “luchadora” movies; Doctor of Doom (1963), Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy (1964) and the infamous The Batwoman (1968), starring Maura Monti. A sort of but not really luchadora film, also directed by Cardona, was the horror cult classic Night of the Bloody Apes (1969). Outside lucha productions, Silvestre appeared in the SF films The Island of the Dinosaurs (1967),
Muñecas peligrosas (1969) and in one episode of the TV show Wonder Woman (1977). Silvestre’s star slowly waned during the 70’s, and come the 80’s he saw himself scraping the bottom of the action-film barrel, doing Z-movies, straight-to-video productions and sexploitation comedies, but with an added income from TV work, it kept him afloat. In 1999 it seemed as if Silvestre had finally hung up his acting gloves, but he kept popping up out of the blue with almost regular five-year intervals. First in 2005 in the super-schmaltzy, super-low-budget kiddie action comedy Pocket Angel, then in the only slightly less obscure heist comedy Una dio el banco (2009), and then suddenly in a recurring role in 64 episodes on the NBC Telemundo drama show La Impostora (2014). He then appeared in the kiddie adventure comedy La hija de Moctezuma (2014), and then again a recurring role in 91 episodes of the Telenovela Waking Up with You (2016-2017). At close to 100 years old, Silvestre has certainly earned his retirement, but if previous signs hold true, he should be popping up in a new production any time soon now.

Alicia Caro and Pedro de Aguillón trying to escape drowning.

Lead actress Alicia Caro was born in Colombia in 1930 as Beatriz Segura Peñuela, and moved to Mexico with her mother who worked at the Colombian embassy in Mexico City. Her dancing teacher recommended her for a small role in Soledad (1947), and in 1949 she had a featured role in Miguel Zacarías’ literary adaptation La vorágine — however, she was required to change her on-screen name. She chose Alicia from the name of her character in the film (and the book by Colombian author José Eustasio Rivera and Caro as a tribute to former Colombian president Miguel Antonio Caro. She had a string of leading roles in A-movies, like Alfredo B. Crevenna’s remake of Girls in Uniform (1951), Luis Buñuel’s Daughters of Deceit (1952), as well as two of Tin Tan’s most popular comedies, Snow White (1952) and Chucho the Mended (1952).

Alicia Caro with comedian Tin Tan.

However, these prime roles soon dried up, and Caro had to settle for leads in low-budget movies and smaller parts in more prestigious films. La sombra vengadora and La sombra vengadora contra la mano negra were also her first brush with he lucha films. Her life and career seemed to take a left turn in 1956, when she married poet Fernando Arbeláez, who had just been appointed to the Colombian embassy in Sweden. She moved to Stockholm, but before the year was over, they had separated and she returned back into the arms of La sombra vengadora and teamed up again with Silvestre, Osés and Baladón in the two latter sequels of the series in 1957. Her acting career was more or less undistinguished during the late 50’s and early 60’s, as she appeared in minor dramas and the occasional mystery/horror movie like Benito Alazraki’s Espiritismo (1962), Ramón Omón Jr.’s 100 Cries of Terror (1965) and Alfredo Salazar’s El Charro de las Calaveras (1965). She remarried in 1965, which also meant a partial retirement from acting, but she still popped up in a few movies here and there over the years, including Patsy, mi amor (1969), written by a then unknown Gabriel García Márquez and the melodrama María (1972), based on a novel by yet another Colombian writer, Jorge Isaac. Her last film — to date — was the action comedy El tesoro de Clotilde, by renowned director Julián Pastor. At 92, Caro is apparently still with us, as of February 2022.

Yerye Beirute.

Costa Rican actor Yerye Beirute (b. 1928) was gifted with a prominent forehead, dark, bushy eyebrows and an angular face, giving him somewhat brutal and almost animalistic features — which served him well in a long line of horror movies, or as a “native” or henchman in westerns and adventure films. He is perhaps best known as he vampire’s assistant in Fernando Méndez’ El ataúd del Vampiro (1958). Outside of the horror genre, he may be seen in small roles in Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966), starring the lesser know Tarzan Mike Henry, and the star-padded Seven Cities of Gold (1955), with actors like Richard Egan, Anthony Quinn, Michael Rennie and Rita Moreno. He also appeared in an episode of the TV series Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (1955).

In the SF department Beirute was on deck on such films as The Body Snatcher (1957), La casa del terror (1960), Alfredo B. Crevenna’s The Incredible Face of Dr. B (1963) and its sequel La huella macabra (1963), as well as two films by René Cardona; Le edad de piedra (1964) and El increíble profesor Zovek (1972). Best known are without doubt two of Boris Karloff’s Mexican movies, directed by Jack Hill and Juan Ibáñez: The Incredible Invasion (1971) and Fear Chamber (1971).

Janne Wass

La sombra vengadora. 1954, Mexico. Directed by Rafael Baledón. Written by Ramón Obón. Starring: Fernando Osés, Armando Silvestre, Alicia Caro, Rodolfo Landa, Pedro de Aguillón, Yerye Beirute, Carlos Martínes Baena, Sara Guasch, Rafael Banquells, Carlos Músquiz, Roger López, Guillermo Hernandez, Vicente Lara. Music: Sergio Guerrera. Cinematography: Augustín Martínez Solares. Editing: Juan José Marino. Set decoration: Rafael Suárez. Makeup: Margarita Ortega. Sound director: James L. Fields. Special effects: Jorge Benavides. Produced by Luis Manrique for Producciones Luis Manrique.

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