In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Villa Finale will be collaborating with the Hispanic Heritage Center of Texas in an outdoor screening of the 1948 Mexican classic, Los Tres Huastecos (The Three Men from Huasteca), on Friday, September 12, 2014. The movie was made during the golden age of Mexican cinema (1936 – 1969). The films of this time were of high quality due to superior script-writing, directing, film production, originality and on-screen talent. One of the most famous actors during this period was Pedro Infante, who plays the lead in Los Tres Huastecos.
Born in November 1918 in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, Infante showed great natural talent for music. He learned to play strings, wind and percussion instruments from his father – a musician – at a very early age and also had a rich singing voice to round out his talents. His first wife convinced him to move to Mexico City where he could be discovered and in 1943 he made his first recording for Peerless Records; that same year he also had a small part in his first film. Recognizing his natural acting ability and Infante’s incredible singing voice, it wasn’t long before he was one of the most sought-after performers in Mexico. Because he came from humble origins, was charismatic and played the “everyday man” in his films, he quickly became a favorite with Mexican audiences.
In 1948, Pedro Infante was approached by Ismael Rodriguez, one of Mexico’s top filmakers and directors, to star in Los Tres Huastecos (The Three Men from Huasteca). A comedic / musical drama co-written by Rodriguez, the film’s story involves triplets separated at birth after their mother dies during child birth. Each of the boys is raised by their individual godfather in different areas of Mexico’s Huasteca region (located along the Gulf of Mexico) and grow up with their own personalities: one is a priest, the other a military man, and the last a rough gambler and bar owner. The three brothers come together in the hunt for “El Coyote,” a thief and murderer who is terrorizing the region. In addition to original huapango musical selections included in the soundtrack (huapango music highly influenced today’s Texas conjunto sound), the film features creative special effects (state-of-the-art for that time) as Infante plays all three of the brothers.
Always up for a career challenge, Infante gladly accepted playing three different characters with their own unique personalities. His brother, Angel, played Infante’s body double and stand-in for some of the scenes featuring more than one brother. The film co-starred Blanca Estela Pavon – who played opposite Infante in many of his most memorable films and who was “Mexico’s sweetheart” – as the love interest of one of the brothers. Comic Fernando Soto – aka Mantequilla (“butter”) – played the hapless sacristan (the keeper of the local church’s sacristy) and four-year-old new-comer, Maria Eugenia Llamas (aka “La Tucita,” diminutive for tuza meaning pocket gopher) played the gambler brother’s daughter. Llamas steals scene after scene in the film as the little girl being raised as a tomboy with poor manners. Her pets include a snake and tarantula which she handles very naturally. Llamas later recalled that director Ismael Rodriguez treated the film shoot as a game so it was very easy for her to act and handle her on-screen pets.
The film was a hit and received several Ariel award nominations (the Mexican equivalent of the Academy Award) including best director, actor, child performer and original screenplay. It remains one of Infante’s most memorable and best known films.
Sadly, only one year after the release of the film, Blanca Estela Pavon died in a plane crash near the Popocatépetl volcano. Pavon was only 23 and at the height of her career. It is said that Infante, who co-starred with Pavon in several films, was inconsolable at the news. Only eight years later, Pedro Infante also perished in an aerial accident when a B-24 Liberator he was piloting crashed only five minutes after takeoff; he was only 39. Pavon and Infante are buried in the same cemetary. Maria Eugenia Llamas, who would be known by her Tres Huestecos character name of La Tucita for the rest of her career, died on August 31, 2014 at the age of 70.
For many who grew up watching Pedro Infante films thanks to the influence of our parents – myself included – this is one movie that is near and dear to our childhoods. And for those who are not familiar with Pedro Infante or Mexican films of this era, Los Tres Huastecos is a great movie to get a feeling for the quality of the country’s cinema at this time. (Note: Pedro Infante’s talent was not lost to people in the United States. Walter Mathis has an album by Infante in his record collection. Infante was in talks to make his cross-over debut in the United States prior to his death.)
Come join Villa Finale and the Hispanic Heritage Center of Texas for an outdoor screening of this Mexican classic on Friday, September 12th! Admission is FREE. Picnics, lawn chairs, blankets and pets on leash are welcome. The HHCTX will be providing complimentary snacks. Villa Finale will be having a raffle for free guided tour admissions to the museum. Gates open at 6:00pm.
We are also happy to welcome the Leon Valley Ballet Folklorico who will be performing at 6:45pm prior to the film screening. See you at the movies!
Screening of the Mexican Classic Los Tres Huastecos (The Three Men from Huasteca) 1948 – running time: 2 hours
Presented with English subtitles, co-sponsored by Villa Finale and the Hispanic Heritage Center of Texas
When: Friday, September 12, 2014
Gates open at 6:00pm
Leon Valley Ballet Folklorico performance at 6:45pm
Film begins at approximately 7:35pm
For more information, please call Villa Finale Visitor Services at (210) 223-9800. Click here to learn more about the Hispanic Heritage Center of Texas.