Cantinflas


Cantinflas
▪ 1994

      (MARIO MORENO REYES), Mexican comic actor (b. Aug. 12, 1911, Mexico City, Mexico—d. April 20, 1993, Mexico City), was idolized in Latin America for his uproarious film portrayals, which relied on slapstick comedy and brilliantly captured the persona of the pobrecito ("poor little person"). He broadened his appeal to English-speaking audiences after playing Passepartout, the loyal manservant of Phileas Fogg (David Niven), in the Academy Award-winning film Around the World in 80 Days (1956), but his greatest acclaim was in Spanish-speaking countries. Because his family was not pleased with his foray into show business—as a torero bufo (buffoonish matador) and as a master of ceremonies, acrobat, and clown at a carpa (Mexican tent show)—he concocted the name Cantinflas. His career as a comic was inadvertently launched when he suffered a bout of stage fright as he filled in for the master of ceremonies at a carpa and began flailing his arms and speaking gibberish. From his nonsensical talk was born the Spanish verb cantinflear, meaning to talk much and say nothing, and it was later to become one of his trademarks. Others included his pencil-thin mustache, which appeared only at the corners of his mouth; a battered hat; pants that slid down his hips; and a bowlegged, Chaplinesque walk. His satirical antics, though more biting, were often compared to those of Chaplin, who was a great admirer of Cantinflas and dubbed him the greatest comedian alive. Cantinflas made 49 films during his career and amassed a personal fortune that allowed him to live lavishly and also generously support dozens of charities, as well as contribute to the Roman Catholic Church. The diminutive actor made his film debut in 1936, and his first two full-length feature films, Ahí está el detalle (1941; "Here's the Point") and Ni sangre, ni arena (1941; "Neither Blood nor Sand"), smashed box-office records for Mexican-made films throughout Latin America. His other credits include Romeo y Julieta (1943; "Romeo and Juliet"), Los tres mosqueteros (1942; "The Three Musketeers"), and El patrullero 777 (1978; "Patrol Car 777"). After filming Pepe (1960) in the U.S., he returned to Mexico, where his portrayals of a pelado (Mexican slum dweller) had made him a living legend. Cantinflas retired from films in 1981.

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▪ Mexican actor
original name  Mario Moreno 
born August 12, 1911, Mexico City, Mexico
died April 20, 1993, Mexico City

      one of the most popular entertainers in the history of Latin-American cinema. An internationally known clown, acrobat, musician, bullfighter, and satirist, he was identified with the comic figure of a poor Mexican slum dweller, a pelado, who wears trousers held up with a rope, a battered felt hat, a handkerchief tied around his neck, and a ragged coat.

      Cantinflas left school to join a traveling tent show as a dancer and was soon performing as a comic satirist and pantomime artist. Leaving the itinerant group, he appeared at the Folies Theatre in Mexico City, then in short advertising films. Cantinflas' first feature film was Ahí está el detalle! (1941; “Here's the Point”). Ni sangre, ni arena (1941; “Neither Blood, nor Sand”), a satire on bullfighting, broke box-office records for Mexican-made films throughout the Spanish-speaking countries. An internationally successful entertainer by the 1950s, Cantinflas was introduced to English-speaking audiences as Passepartout, the manservant of Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days (1956). After the box-office failure of his next Hollywood film, Pepe (1960), he returned to Mexico, where he continued to reign as the undisputed king of Latin-American comedy.

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Universalium. 2010.

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