Luis García Berlanga

  1. it.: Benvenuto, Mr. Marshall!; Sog.: Juan Antonio Bardem, Luis G. Berlanga; Scen.: Juan A. Bardem, Luis G. Berlanga, Miguel Mihura; F.: Manuel Berenguer; Mo.: Pepita Orduña; Scgf.: Francisco Canet Cubel; Cost.: Eduardo de la Torre, Peris Hermanos; Mu.: Jesús Garcia Leoz; Canzoni: José Antonio Ochaita, Antonio Valero, Juan Solano; Int.: Lolita Sevilla (Carmen Vargas), Manuel Morán (Manolo), José Isbert (don Pablo, il sindaco), Alberto Romea (don Luis, il gentiluomo), Elvira Quintillá (senorita Eloisa, l’insegnante), Luis Perez de Leon (don Cosme), Fernando Rey (narratore); Prod.: Joaquin Reig, UNINCI Films 35mm. D.: 78’. Bn.
T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Beginning with its title, Welcome Mr. Marshall is a gentle, humorous and sometimes caustic satire with “picaresque” tendencies about a local Castilian village’s reaction to Marshall Plan aid. The film abounds with flashes of malicious humor and finely observed satirical touches about the United States. When the film was first shown in Cannes, [jury member] Edward G. Robinson … denounced it for its anti-American bias and managed to have it censored. During these years of the Cold War, the film was obviously misunderstood. Rather than an anti-American satire, it was a burlesque of a small village [the fictitious Villar del Rio] eager to ingratiate and disfigure itself to get the promised benefits of Marshall Plan aid. … What elevates the plot above the ordinary are Berlanga’s political critiques of American life. In three finely honed dream sequences, Berlanga satirizes the American Western film, replete with saloon, gambling wheels, gunfights, womanizing sheriffs and bar girls; the Ku Klux Klan hanging a local priest; and victims giving testimony at the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings. Such elements led to the film being censored in the United States.

Berlanga also took his film out of the studio and actually used local townspeople in the village of Guadalix de la Sierra, giving the film a kind of neo-realistic authenticity… [One of the scenes] cut from the original shows an American flag floating downstream in a local river, demonstrating the Spaniards’ dissatisfaction with “Yank fever” after the townspeople’s dreams have been scuttled. The film retains a kind of freshness and naïveté thast is remarkable in light of the bold critical posturings and unconventional attitudes expressed by Bardem and Berlanga in the early Fifties. It was the key film that sealed the success of [their] future collaborative and individual efforts.

Ronald Schwartz, The Great Spanish Films: 1950-1990 (Scare- crow Press, 1991)


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