Quarantine has provided us with a lot of time to watch movies, to catch up on new ones and re-watch old favorites. We’ve been re-watching the films of one of Mexico’s greatest actors, Pedro Infante, (1917-1957).
Infante was born in Mazatlán and grew up playing guitar and violin. In the 1930’s, a young, ambitious and charismatic Infante moved to Mexico City to pursue music and acting. He first made a name for himself as a popular singer, but quickly became one of the country’s favorite actors as well.
Throughout his short but prolific career, Infante made over 60 films. He was known for portraying characters rooted in an authenticity that resonated with people around Mexico. He often played roles that depicted the common man, including police officer, teacher, carpenter, vagrant, priest, handyman, and more. This wide-spread relatability gave him the public persona as the classic Mexican: handsome, charming, courageous, a gentleman, and a great singer.
Infante’s music was highly relatable and emotionally engaging as well. He sang about everyday truths: love, friendship, treason, and suffering. And because his voice was not perfectly polished like Jorge Negrete’s, it elicited the notion that it could belong to the masses. Infante’s music became quite popular, and is still heard around Mexico today. Some of our favorite songs of his are Amorcito corazón, Cielito lindo, and Bésame mucho.
The emotional honesty in his music carried into his films as well. Infante was a frequent collaborator with the director Ismael Rodríguez, who regularly created characters based on Infante’s personality, including our favorites Los Tres Garcias y Vuelven los Tres Garcias, A Toda Maquina, Ustedes los Pobres, and Nosotros los Ricos. The fact that people could identify themselves in the roles and struggles that Infante portrayed in his movies contributed to his influence on Mexican cinema. The industry realized the importance of this personal connection, and therefore continued to make movies rooted in the common experiences of everyday lives, from romance to suffering, while always imbuing the narratives with the Mexican spirit to have fun and enjoy life. Even today as we watch Infante’s films, there is poverty, illness, and many other hardships all around us, but we always find things to be grateful for. The glass is half-full at The Lift!