Friday, March 27, 2015

FILM REVIEW: PILIPINAS KONG MAHAL (A FILIPINO SPECTACULAR)

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SPOTLIGHTby Ophelia San Juan

FILM REVIEW:  A FILIPINO SPECTACULAR
(The Weekly Nation, November 19, 1965)



PILIPINAS KONG MAHAL would have been more aptly titled Magallanes Kong Mahal or Mahal Kong Susan, since its World War II action seems to have centered mainly on the fictional town of Magallanes with no discernible strategic value to the Philippine defense, and its drama appears to be made up solely of the charming if unmemorable love story for leading lady Susan Roces -- but the film has Fernando Poe, Jr. for leading man, and this gives it the national significance that the story fails to provide.

     The popularity of this neither extraordinarily good-looking nor evidently accomplished actor is nothing short of phenomenal; one has just hear the gasps of excitement at his super-daring exploits and the sighs of collective vicarious thrill at his timid love scenes to be personally convinced of the meteoric box-office success statistics that Tagalog movie producers ascribe to him:  because of this, one gets to wondering how much more solidly his claim to matinee idol supremacy can be established, and his acting capabilities stressed, when given significant, worthwhile roles.

     For while Pilipinas Kong Mahal has all the external trappings of a real Filipino movie spectacular, its chief spectacle remains to be the star as he came into the picture, and not the actor as he emerges out of the film nor the soldier as he is depicted to display courage.

     By way of assessment, Pilipinas has the most impressive cast of stars among local movies nowadays.  Fernando Poe, Jr., who does not need any characterization to draw sizable crowds to any two-hour movie, is a lieutenant of the Philippine Army and, later, of the guerrilla movement somewhere in the Philippines in this three-hour re-rendering of the occupation and resistance that has no highlights and no abysmal defects either.  And Susan Roces, who received a P30,000 salary for this picture, compensates for it amply with sweet good looks, an even keeled portrayal through happy moments and sad, and a dutiful mouthing of lines that were supposed to be touchingly romantic when they were not being fierily patriotic as the waiting sweetheart of the young soldier gone to battle.

     Oscar Keesee, as the typical pro-American Filipino of pre-World War II days, Vic Silayan as the gentlemanly officer of the Japanese Imperial Army, and Lito Anzures as the plucky soldier fighting beside Fernando Poe, Jr., are the characters who live in the film and carry its story among the three of them from its opening scene to the last.

 Festive Scene

      On Dec. 7, 1941, the town of Magallanes completes its preparations for the following day's celebration of the feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Concepcion.  There are children's games and lechonada parties, band parades and fireworks displays, and these provide fortuitous fodder for the Eastmancolor cameras' protracted play and pointless pyrotechnics.  It is also the birthday of leading lady Susan Roces -- and an occasion for the appearance of one of the most eyeful of the guest stars of Pilipinas:  stage-tv-nightclub songstress Pilita Corrales, who renders a bewitching Spanish number.

     Downstairs, spouting the typical pro-American opinion of Filipinos in the middle and literate classes who believed the war too far away from the Philippines and the United States too strong and rich an ally and protector of the Commonwealth, Susan's father, Oscar Keesee, receives her guests and extends the traditional Filipino hospitality and glad hand to acquaintances, including Mr. Saito (Vic Silayan), a Japanese resident in the Philippines, and the drunken panhandler with long hair and unkempt clothes (Johnny Monteiro).  Monteiro, receiving his liquor and, presumably, his food for the day, reels away thick with thanks; Mr. Saito, demurring with dignity and good manners that do not seem ever capable of offending, quietly tells Oscar Keesee not to think of Japan as too small and insignificant beside the United States' might.

     December 8 dawns with the announcement of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Keesee reassures his family that America will pulverize the Nipponese attackers.  When the Japanese land, he states that the American will be back, triumphant, in three months' time.

     His optimism is not shared by his daughter, who spends her time moping about the fate of her sweetheart, Fernando Poe, Jr., on the battlefield.  She should not have worried.  Poe Jr., as everybody knows, is invincible, and Pilipinas Kong Mahal shows some of the best proofs of this invulnerability.

     Before the onslaught of determined Japanese attackers, Poe Jr. is wounded, it is true, but only ever so slightly, in the exact spot where Jesus was nailed by the palm on the cross -- to which crucified figure Director Efren Reyes, in a moment of over-devotion to clever cinematics, bluntly and forcibly cuts to go back to the pretty face of Susan praying.

     Captive in a POW camp, he proposes a mass escape in loud stentorian tones that are a surprise at being inaudible to the Japanese guards.  Together with Lito Anzures, who gives the semblance of a soldier fighting and fearing for his life, wearying of it and taking heart because of it, he escapes unscathed beneath a hail of high-powered bullets from the more advantageously situated Japanese sentries.  Wonder of wonders still, the supposedly starving and diseased prisoners of war easily capture an arsenal of firearms, and wipe out the whole garrison force before disappearing into the jungle to become brave guerrillas!

Poe's Fighting Prowess

      The brave, but apparently thoughtless, guerrillas launch an attack on a Japanese held town and occupy it, for whatever military reason an audience never gets to know, unless it is to display once more the incredible fighting prowess of Lt. Poe Jr. (he charges at the enemy without bothering to take cover once in a while -- and does not get hit; he fires a Thompson sub-machine gun with one hand, while running, and never once stumbles on the long road he traverses from one end to the other; he goes up the steps of a well-manned garrison, and the Japanese fall over each other to be shot by him, not one of them levering his rifle in readiness as every soldier who had gone through one minor battle instinctively does; he leads a line up troop to attack, and not one of them is felled by a single lucky bullet -- only the Japanese are killed faster than one can say rat-tat).  The town the guerrillas enter is, naturally, Magallanes -- where else would the hero, though he be an escapee from Capas, be but with the heroine?  And, naturally, the Japanese command of neighboring towns move to eject them.  When the civilians, whom the guerrillas had not thought to warn or evacuate during their own raid, get hit by stray mortar from the enemy, everybody blames it on the Japanese, perhaps because they are supposed to know the elementary rules of military operations and the guerrillas not, and on Monteiro, who is now collaborator mayor of Magallanes.

     There follows the Judas scene which Monteiro has been doing admirably for the last five years or so, on stage and in countless movies, come Lent or All Saints' Day, in which he recognizes his guilt and repents for it.  Only this time, he gets more behind-the-lines support:  Susan Roces mouths some of the lines of his conscience, the soundtrack dramatically underscores with solemn sentences his bravura acting, and the church altar suspiciously booms with the crucified Christ's remonstrance.

     When he hangs himself, the otherwise delicate Susan Roces looks at the grim sight without wincing, and sententiously declares she could not have compassion for a traitor.  Her indomitable heroism, far surpassing that of Tandang Sora's, is even expressed in an unbelievable defiance of Mr. Saito's controlled cold fury, and in a staccato restatement of Nathan Hale's immortal "I regret only that I have but one life to give to my country."

     The heroics of the film are actually the hardest to take; once past them, one can even see the results of the obvious efforts to make Pilipinas Kong Mahal stand out among most Tagalog movies.

Cameo Roles

     Director Efren Reyes's use of well-known guest stars to appear in cameo roles is one attempt at colorful entertainment that succeeds well.  The one scene appearances of Zaldy Zshornack as another Philippine Army officer, Joseph Estrada as a hot tempered guerrilla leader obviously destined to be a Hukbalahap later, Jose Padilla, Jr. as a ranking guerrilla commander, and Eddie Garcia as a Filipino-looking US army officer are greeted with enthusiastic audience cheers each time.

     The battle scenes are very well done, too.  The special effects, specially, are worthwhile, and leave nothing to be desired of war scenes.

     What the battles, raids, and skirmishes of Pilipinas lack are tension and the significance which should have been their raison d'etre.  The groping story and the suspenseless script did not seem to have set out to create these, and the director has done no apparent effort to acquire them for the film.

     When Poe Jr. frees the Magallanes civilians from three lone, bewildered Japanese survivors guarding the church, for example, one is disappointed to find all his bravery and much exploited battling genius wasted on a limp, anticlimactic situation that had not built up to any decent tension.
     With the death of Mr. Saito, Pilipinas has no choice but to bury his bloodless corpse and let the characters of Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces be the last unwithered flowers on the bed of discolored blooms.  Even the pretentious and unnovel epilogue that unreels to the strains of the theme hymn at the end does not detract from this beautiful image of the two popular stars.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

FILM REVIEW - HANGGANG SA KURTINANG BAKAL (TOURISM WITHOUT TEARS)

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SPOTLIGHT
by Ophelia San Juan

Film Review:   TOURISM WITHOUT TEARS
(The Weekly Nation, February 12, 1966)


 HANGGANG SA Kurtinang Bakal, the third and -- it is to be hoped -- last of the See the World with Lea super-productions, makes much use of the steel fists of Romeo Vasquez and the iron bodies of Al Quinn, Fred Galang, et. al, who have to take the punishment of karate and fistblow fights prolonged and repeated many times for the sake of padding an incident-starved story, but it is the diamond-hard sense for profit and popularity of Mrs. Emilia S. Blas which shines through brightest as producer and perpetrator of this flimsy, prevaricating photoplay.

     She has mined enough boxoffice gold in the two previous productions of the series -- Aloha and Fiesta South America - to perhaps justify the lead moulding the romance and the spy-action of this one; and she should be given credit not only for turning out movies of mass appeal and comparative wholesomeness that make money at the boxoffice but also, and more importantly, for being the only film financier in the country who always wants to try something new, colorful, and big.  Even if it happens to be only a tinplate ornament as Kurtinang Bakal.

     Only trouble is, in smelting the metal, she extracts and exposes for public airing a number of unsophisticated, quite vulnerable elements.

     The Filipino performers, made to follow through a clueless spy story that is stated to concern North Vietnam, look like tourists settling for the less known places of Europe after having gotten lost in the more urban metropolises, and their helplessness is not remedied at all by the absence of all guideposts to good traveling -- or acting.  There are only nameless hotels, unidentified cafes, indistinguishable parks, and unlettered alleys as well as minimal plotting and characterization in Hanggang Sa Kurtinang Bakal.  Seeing it, one would not think there were notable landmarks in Paris, Madrid, Lisbon, Seville, Barcelona, Lourdes, Nice, Geneva, Berne, Zurich, Venice, Vienna, Rome and Berlin -- all storied cities which it purports to cover -- or that an espionage story had distinctive attributes like realistic menace, taut episoding, clear cause-and-effect situations, accomplished agents, and maintained tension.

     Amalia Fuentes and Romeo Vasquez, it is true, do their best by non-existent roles, Amalia prettily and Romeo bravely, but even young actors with considerable screen presence can find difficulty looking vital and interested on a misguided tour.  She gets her chance to wear fur for a good excuse (the autumn weather abroad), as well as those chic suits that accentuate her svelte beauty, while he glides with smoothness and ease in his footloose and fancy-free romantic portrayal of a habitual self.  Nevertheless, the aura of alienation and awed unfamiliarity hangs heavy on their aimless odyssey, and travel is never less broadening than for the stars -- and the audience -- of Kurtinang Bakal.

     The innocents abroad include three modern mercenaries (Tony Cayado, Al Quinn, and Fred Galang) on hire out to the communists led by a Commander X in Germany.  To get there without being followed, they traipse along a circuitous route from Copenhagen that goes out on a parabola to Spain, Italy, presumably France, and back to Berlin.  Their attempt at anonymity fails, however, partly because of their permanent dark sunglasses and dark Continental-type suits which unmistakably mark them in Europe, and partly because the three, together with Amalia and Romeo, always choose the same hotel and the same tourist spot in all the big cities they go to.  Off-scene, cameraman Tommy Marcelino and producer Blas were in those same places, too, and the audience can perhaps share in the general junket jubilation were if not for the fact that Romeo and Amalia are supposed to be United Nations agents tracking down their three spy costars.  The swiftness and the ease with which the UN love team is unfailingly joined with their quarry everywhere makes a viewer suspect that the opposing parties intentionally stick close together for fear of getting lost in those bustling, teeming cities with their myriad byways and secret, unknown places.

     Of the lot, costar, codirector and coscriptwriter (with Ben Feleo) Tony Cayado tries hardest to look stern and succeeds most in showing his enjoyment.  While Al Quinn and Fred Galang are content to sport their distinctive dark glasses indoors as well as outdoors or their cute hats while in seductive tete-a-tete at a cocktail lounge, Tony Cayado has the job of contacting Commander X and delivering to the commie leader the standard secret agent's attache case of vital documents.  Aside from handing tough lines in English to a frail boy in a Spanish mansion of horror, he does death's coup de grace as well, establishing what may be the longest dying record in the movies.

     His two cohorts are destined fatalities, too, in the end after all their fighting wind has been used up and the travelogue is set to wind up.  Al Quinn, like Cayado, indulges a spectacular death:  this time, he removes his dark sunglasses before his usual fight with Vasquez, even his hat, scarf, and gloves come off one after another in timed succession with a flourish not unlike a striptease dancer's tassels and bows, and then he accidentally falls backward on his own knife!

     A wide-staring death similar to Al Quinn's is received by the mysterious Commander X, who turns out to be no other than the charming and very likable Gloria Sevilla, but this is not so amusing like the demise of the two male communist hirelings.  Gloria and Amalia enact the only scene of Hanggang Sa Kurtinang Bakal in which some emoting is done when they first meet and confront each other in Berlin, and Miss Sevilla's gunfight slaying seems too routinary of every uninspired spy yarn.

     Likewise not a laughing matter is the treason against tourism that Mrs. Blas's latest foreign-made sparkler commits.  Apparently lacking film footage on the important cities Kurtinang Bakal is supposed to depict, the picture interchanges the Philippines's Intramuros grounds and Quezon City road stretches for chase sequences purveyed to have been shot abroad.  This is injustice to foreign countries, which are thus shown with tropical trees and left-hand drive cars, as well as dishonesty with our own.  And if pulling the wool over the eyes of audiences is not permissible in straight documentaries and travelogues, it is hardly so in feature-length narrative films -- for fiction's liberty does not extend to distorting real national heritage of which one's land is essentially part of.

     Toward movie's end, when the action centers in West Berlin, scenes from Spain startlingly appear intercut with the German ones so that Tony Cayado and Gloria Sevilla come down the steps of a Berlin tunnel to emerge on a rail track designated for Sevilla, Amalia Fuentes rushes across an autobahn and continues running past advertisements of abanicos, Berlin's theatres start announcing the showing of Los Novios de Mis Hijas, and Germany's streets get cluttered with Iberia liners.  If a final insult to an average audience's intelligence is needed to stop him from gawking at the quaint, unimportant and out-of-the-way foreign places a haphazard travelogue such as Hanggang Sa Kurtinang Bakal offers, it is this -- a brazen attempt to destroy his geography after having disrupted his common sense with an implausible fictionization.

     At the Brandenburg gate, Romeo joins Amalia in an affectionate reunion and together they turn away from the wall to East Berlin, taking the camera and the Lea production group away with them.  It is just as well: if they had gone on behind the Iron Curtain, the NKVD would probably never let them go, fearing the sabotage this filming group might do to communist landscapes.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

HOW THEY LEARNED TO LOVE THE 'BOMBA' WITHOUT REALLY TRYING (The Weekly Nation, June 2, 1969)

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HOW THEY LEARNED TO LOVE 'BOMBA' WITHOUT REALLY TRYING

 By Franklin Roosevelt Cabaluna


As published in The Weekly Nation Magazine
June 2, 1969 


SEX in yesterday's movies, compared to the stuff we get today from our neighborhood fleahouse, was decidedly a bore.  A bare ankle was considered sexy enough in those dreary times.  That was yesterday, the yesterday that's now buried under mountains and mountains of sexy films.

     Times have changed.  For one thing, the cinema is now the most alive and most lively of the arts.  It is also the most inventive, the most passionately versatile.  If one were to recall what Shakespeare had said of Cleopatra:  "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety."

     She, the cinema, has indeed an infinite variety, specially in depicting sex, in skinning the pussycat.  Yesterday's bare ankle has reached far above and the high neckline of yore has dipped so low that the twain do meet and the result is the -- "Bomba!"

     "Bomba" is the new nude wave that has, in blitzkrieg fashion, hit Philippine movie shores.  The meaning of this Now term is pretty obvious:  the "bomba" in contrast to that of politics' -- which is all sound and fury -- is a real live one:  it spells TNT at the box office.

     It was bound to come, this climate of sexciting happenstance:  money blues breed blue movies despite bluenoses.

     Some ten years after the Father of Philippine Movies, Jose Nepomuceno (father of the present Nepomuceno Productions' Luis), started his pioneering work in 1917 that a "Board of Review for Moving Pictures" was created.  Since the first board came into being, conflict resulted between Filipino moviemakers and the scissor-wielders, but it was a conflict that both sides eyed with something like grudging tolerance.

     It was not until the early 1960's that a bomb exploded -- and it blasted into smithereens whatever uneasy truce reigned between the board and the local moviemen.  This was the controversial Huwag Mo Akong Limutin, a Premiere production directed by ace megman Gerry de Leon from Jose Flores Sibal's "bold expose of human weaknesses, soul-consuming desire and earthly fulfillment."  The movie was initially banned by the board.

     The sizzler featured torrid lip service between the late Oscar Keesee and Arsenia Francisco, Arsenia and Ramon D'Salva and Cesar Ramirez and Cynthia Zamora.  Also, it was spiced with cloying clinches between the said couples, plus Robert Arevalo and Aura Aurea, and Aura and Cesar Ramirez.

     Previewed on June 7, 1960 by nine members of the board of censors, Huwag was highly impressed the scissor-wielders with its dramatic and technical qualities, but they rejected it for general exhibition for the following reasons:  (1)  it has adultery for a subject matter; (2)  it treats of abortion; and (3)  it features kidnapping.

     The board said:  ". . . the picture is of a very low moral character depicting all crimes against morality and even giving justification to many of these crimes by the treatment of the story."

     Two days later, Premiere's Cirio H. Santiago appealed for a reconsideration of the decision to the then Executive Secretary Natalio P. Castillo.  The latter replied after a week that he concurred with the board's findings:  ". . . the two cases that it (the film) shows, involving members of the same family, would, I believe, tend to make a mockery of the institution of marriage, which is highly regarded and held invaluable by our people. . . likewise, I find the picture objectionable on account of its portrayal of blackmail of the lowest order, the apparent impunity with which gambling is operated, and excessive drunkeness, all of which are susceptible of imitation."

     There was then still no talk about open nudity, the nudity cum passion which is the current "bomba" vogue's Spanish fly in the ointment.  (In Huwag, Aura bedizenned herself in none too diaphanous or negligent negligees.  Then, in a scene where she was chased by Robert, it was seen in their consequent struggle on the ground that she was wearing not sheer panties under her dress, but a cagey pair of shorts.)  Nonetheless, what was considered excessive nudity in the beginnings of the now perfected "bomba," cropped up not much later.

     Tagalog Ilang-Ilang entered the movie scene.  In its very first picture Kilabot Sa Barilan, Aura Aurea's rape by a band composed of, among others, Max Alvarado and Paquito Diaz (in the rape, Aura's dress was shredded from her back), that triggered Fernando Poe, Jr.'s vengeance binge.  Tagalog Ilang-Ilang, in its subsequent pictures, enlisted the talents of such passion flowers as Stella Suarez, Miriam Jurado, Mariquit Soliman and Rosario del Pilar.  The cuddlesome foursome indulged in lengthly kissing scenes with Romeo Vasquez, Joseph Estrada or Zaldy Zshornack (Mariquit however only did it once -- with Bobby in Tirador).  If they were not pasturing their kissable lips on their lovemates', they were displaying their bountiful charms in revealing getups.

     Still, there was no real nudity yet, no real "bomba."

     Memorable Caper

      That waited for Charito Solis -- in Zultana International's Tatlong Mukha Ni Pandora.  In the Ding M. de Jesus megger, Chato -- who before that made history by vamping it in Pauline Productions' Angustia -- went the way of all flesh for the first time in her career.  It is said that for the picture's publicity stills alone, she posed in bed raw for a well-known photographer who shot rolls and rolls of her in various stages of undress.

     Portraying a woman of sin in Tatlong Mukha, Chato got in and out of her clothes; gamboled in transparent nighties and undies (mostly with no bra); had herself massaged by the gardener whose suggestive clip-clipping near her window aroused her nymphomaniacal urges.  In one stunning shot, she let the camera peep through the sleeves of her housedress at her naked breasts (the scene was shot from the viewpoint of Van de Leon who was watching her ironing clothes), and in every move of her arm thither, Van got a glimpse of her bosom, so much so that after a while he got excited and approached her and told her to leave her chore for a while.

     After Tatlong Mukha stormed the box office, came the deluge -- of more acres of flesh and sex.  More sex kittens joined the fray and, abetted by Chato's "retirement," were soon lording it on the skimpy celluloid.

     Divina Valencia, a virtual unknown, was an extra in her first picture, Tagalog Ilang-Ilang's Basagulero, a Joseph Estrada-Perla Bautista headliner.  But in her second film, Kardong Kidlat, she was promoted to full stardom together with the late Jess Lapid.

     It took a loud splash in a river scene to catapult her as movie Venus.  While Divina was enjoying the swim in her birthday garb, a group of villains was peeping and enjoying the view.  Jess saw them and taught them a lesson on how to respect the privacy of a bare lady.  Coming out of the water and donning her wet camisa, she was soon teaching Jess how to hold and kiss a dripping woman.  There and then, Divina proved that she was bold and good.

     In her next picture, Ito Ang Lalake, wherein she was a guerrilla and donned pants that clung too tight and hung so low that her midrib and bellybutton showed.  She was caught by the kempetai, disrobed of her garments at the garrison where she was made to hung by her hands.  Though the scene was mostly shot from the backside, daring angles were utilized to show brief glimpses of her bare breasts.  Bruno Punzalan, playing a Japanese officer, was gloating and making ready to paw her.

     Bessie Barredo, Gina Laforteza and Menchu Morelli tried to equal Divina's feats.  All belong to a rare breed of passion flowers, whose earthly fragrance never failed to incense the censors.  A vehicle where they all appeared in, Lovers' Street, got the ire of the "censors' censor," the CCMM (Citizens' Council for Mass Media).

     Sampaguita, the last of the strait-laced studios, joined the skin game by allowing peeks at such stars as Daisy Romualdez and Gina Pareno, and later importing Divina to give a bodily boost to some of its vehicles. 

     Thus, while 1966 started with a bang for local movies, it ended with a whimper.  The moviegoers got surfeited with the sexy purrings of pussycats galore, so it was back to soap operas, sagebrush sagas and ha-ha opuses.

     Except for the Django-type copies, local producers calmly breezed through 1967 and the first half of last year.  Occasionally, Divina, Gina and the others perked up the screen, Lucita Soriano and Stella Suarez livened the set with their real life bout, bu the "bomba" was kept under wraps.

The "Bomba" Explodes

     When the wrapper came off the bomba, the censors have by now obviously relaxed their prissy attitude toward sex and its variants, what with their passing such eye-poppers as Morianna, Flame Of Love, Onibaba and Woman And Temptation.

     Choice samplings of local "bombas":  In Honey And West, a ZZ production, "blue seal" Sonny March was bussed in the bust by Bernard Belleza; later, she took off her duds for a soapy bath.

     In Spy Killers, another ZZ film, actor-producer Zaldy Zshornack and Jaye Stevens were locked in a torrid embrace standing up an then lying down.  Zaldy and Jill Hamilton did the same for the flick, and one scene had them caught in a compromising situation by someone with a gun (very much like that scene in Point Blank wherein Angie Dickinson and her bedmate were disturbed at the height of their passion by a gun-totting Lee Marvin).  Carol Davidson, still another import in the ZZ movie, reclined by the telephone in a mini nightie and undies.

     In Gemini's Max Diamond, Alicja Basili was also at the phone, wearing less than Carol Davidson.  Max Alvarado, sharing a drink with her, moved in for the kill.  In another shot, Max rewarded Gina Stuart with a long, hot kiss after the latter gyrated through her act in a flimsy costume.  Leni Trinidad was another tempestuous kissing partner for Max in the opus.

     In Dirty Face Max, Max was again in a sizzling encounter with Alicja.  He came upon her coming out of the swimming pool with just her bikini bottom on.  He proved himself a gentleman by helping her dry herself with a towel.  Later, he proved himself a man by taking away the view-obscuring towel and locking her in a wet embrace.  Max had other steamy goings-on in the Mundial opus with Bessie Barredo, Marilou Ver, Gina Stuart and Carolyn Jones.

     In Eagle Commandos, an Aladdin production that had the censors blowing their cool, Max hit the hay anew with the nude Alicja this time in just his jocks.  In that eye popping footage, he kissed and feeled her all over.

     The same kind of spirited happening happened to Alicja in Bayanihan's Bino And Clayd.  Megged by Luis San Juan, who's currently dubbed the "king of the 'bomba,' "  Bino Garcia, who has reportedly been refused lip service by several cuties finally got a chance to express himself with by this time over-exposed Alicja.

     In AM Productions' Escarlata, Max and Myra Luna, the new sexation, got down to their bare essentials for a boudoir scene.  Later, Myra was enjoying a smoke as Max gathered her in his brawny arms once more, for a soulful kiss.  Max also nearly kissed Amalia Fuentes, whom he attempted to do wrong while she was dressed in a revealing low neckline outfit.  Max likewise pastured his voracious lips on Bella Flores.

     Max had a bout with Alicja again in Esmerald's Pussycat, wherein a flourish of strippers did their thing.  Divina Valencia and Myra Luna added to sexplosion.

     In the otherwise drab war opus that was Aladdin's Liquidation Squad, director Chat Gallardo concocted a molotov cocktail by having a bit player in the buff make raw romance to an equally willing and bare bit player, Anita Mallari.  Anita also shed her apparel to accommodate the advances of character actor Sancho Tesalona in Esmeralda's Gun-Runners.


     More Delectable Scenes

     Paquito Diaz, straight from Emar's Anim Ang Dapat Patayin! where he and his band (including FAMAS best actor awardee Eddie Garcia) raped Imelda Ilanan to death and attempted to do the same to Gina Laforteza and a barrio lass enacted by an unnamed bit player who had her dress ripped in front and her front bared), ran away with a completely undressed girl -- newcomer Helen Gomez -- in his arms in Perlas' Ang Lupang Ito Ay Akin.  The Eddie Fernandez starrer marked the screen comeback of Anna Gonzales, who went into temporary retirement after she got too hot for the censors with her sizzling river bath in ZZ's Tierra Santa.  In that film, Mona Morena had her share of the hi-jinks:  she and Nort Nepomuceno whipped up quite a rumpus in bed!

     Myra Luna kept her clothes in that opus.  However, in Jacros' Ronquillo Brothers, she shed her bra and lolled around in her sheer nightie and panties for a sultry bed scene with Roberto Gonzales.  Also, Lana May Wong dropped every stitch for an unblushing nightclub sequence.  Susan Oswald put one over Lana in SS Films' Palos Fights Back, wherein she played an ecdysiast who was made to perform tricks for the boys!

     In Ronquillo Brothers, Fred Galang stepped out of his jocks to do a heated love scene with Alicja.  When that footage was about to be shot, the Italian goulash was said to have teased the FAMAS best supporting actor:  "No bra, no panty, no nothing.  Everything go.  I do it.  You do it.  Everythig go, ok?"  Blushing, Fred agreed after some time (after all, the film was his brother (Atty. Romy Galang's second production).

     Some hitch developed when the still photographer, excited, later found out that no pictures of that sequence came out okay in his camera.  Fred and Alicja had to go back to the drawing board for the benefit of the stillman!

     Fred, for that matter, is now quite used to it.  In Nepomuceno's Igorota he peeled to his bare skin for a smoldering clinch with Anjelica for an additional "for export only" scene.  Since Fred, in that scene, imagined his rape victim to be his former betrothed (Charito Solis), he also reportedly did another scene in the nude with Chato for the intercutting shots!

     Ang Pulubi, his current film for Nepomuceno, Fred again uncovered himself for the foreign version.  Here, he made effusive love to Verna Gaston who, in the role of his girl, likewise divested her clothes for her nude embrace with Fred.  (This was the first time that Verna went for the altogether bit.)  The scene had Fred supposedly paying lip service to Verna all over!

     The same film, at the rate it is going, may yet prove to be the biggest "bomba" of 'em all.  Besides Fred's scenes with Verna and Chato, there are allegedly other nude worthy sequences; nude footage of Chato and Gloria Sevilla as they were being inspected by Correctional authorities; the communal bath scene where most of Chato's and Gloria's co-inmates -- among them are Eva Darren, Cora Varona, Rebecca Rocha and Nora Nunez -- join them in the shower; Chato's giving birth to twins a la-Right To Be Born (a PGH patient "performed" the actual birth for her); the nude lesbian love scenes between Eva and Chato a la-Susannah York and Coral Browne in Robert Aldrich's The Killing Of Sister George; and the naked dance of Chato when they (the inmates) were told that they were already being freed since war has broke out.  Reportedly, there are two other "controversial" scenes:  one allegedly has Chato breast-feeding her twins a la-Jean Seberg in Paint Your Wagon, and the other is said to have the inmates readying themselves for bed and Nora Nunez opted to sleep in the raw!

     "Bomba," anyone?


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Saturday, March 21, 2015

AMALIA REALIZES A CHERISHED DREAM (The Weekly Nation, May 15, 1967)

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AMALIA REALIZES A CHERISHED DREAM
By JOYCE ABELLA CUENTO


As published in The Weekly Nation Magazine
May 15, 1967


In receiving two God-sent precious gifts -- her baby and a FAMAS award, she is very picture of compleat woman.

A LOVELY LADY in a low-neckline white gown glided toward the stage amidst thunderous applause and the flashes of photographers' bulbs.  Admiring glances followed her every moment as her face radiated with joy and excitement.

     That was beauteous Amalia Fuentes on the FAMAS awards night at the Nile as she received the 1966 best actress award.  As she walked seemingly serene up the stage, she tried to compose herself for her knees were shaking from nervousness.

     However, her pent-up emotions gave way and tears of joy welled down her cheeks as she delivered in a quivering voice a line of thanks to her fans and the people behind her success, most particularly Gerry de Leon who directed her in Ibulong Mo Sa Hangin which won her the award.

     Clasping the FAMAS statuette to her breast, she tearfully went down the stage only to be besieged by her faithful fans who kissed her on the cheek and festooned her with sampaguita leis.

     As she returned to her seat, Amalia was greeted by more people, including Susan Roces and Fernando Poe, Jr. who were seated at a nearby table.

     During the affair, Romeo Vasquez was absent.  Amalia came with her younger brother Alvaro or Cheng as he is called.

     To celebrate her success, Amalia gave a blow-out at the Champagne Room of the Manila Hotel, which ended at around 2 a.m.

A Memorable Event

      Altogether, the FAMAS awards night was a most memorable event in Amalia's life which she will cherish forever.  It was at the same time the biggest surprise in her life for she never thought she would win.  She thought Charito Solis would bag it again.  She didn't think she did so well in Ibulong Mo Sa Hangin as in Tatlong Kasaysayan Ng Pag-ibig where she gave her all in her portrayal of three different roles.  So that when she heard that her film considered by the FAMAS was Ibulong Mo Sa Hangin, Amalia almost lost hope.  Lady Luck however proved her wrong.

     Amalia confessed that every year she had secretly wished to win the FAMAS award.  In 1965 she was nominated as best actress for Kulay Dugo Ang Gabi but she lost out to Marlene Dauden.

     This is Amalia's 12th year in the movies.  She started her movie career with Sampaguita Pictures when she was chosen Miss Number One as leading lady to Mr. Number One, Juancho Gutierrez.  Her eight years with Sampaguita gave her fame and financial security.  Later on, searching for wider horizons, she turned to freelancing.  Amalia's first freelance picture was Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions' Ako'y Iyung-Iyo.  In freelancing Amalia gained more success.  Better roles and better offers came along.  Even her versatility was put to a test during this period.

     In 1965, having acquired enough capital, she formed her own movie production company, AM Productions.  Her initial picture, Dream Girl was a modest success.  This was followed by Digmaan Ng Pag-ibig, Ibulong Mo Sa Hangin, Room 69, Michaela, Maginoong Pusakal, Mark of Cardo and Honey Honeymoon.

     At this writing, Amalia is busy appearing in her own production, Anna-Lissa, a musical drama in which she is costarred with Bernard Bonnin.  Named after her first child, this is Amalia's first picture since she gave birth last March 27.

     Now that Amalia is back in circulation, she will continue to freelance and produce films.  After Anna-Lissa she will make a picture for Cirio Santiago.

      Amalia will leave for the United States as soon as she is through with Anna-Lissa.  She will visit her brother Alex whom she is seeing through college there and negotiate for the release of her films, most specially Ibulong Mo Sa Hangin.  According to Amalia, horror films have a wide market abroad.

     When asked if motherhood does not interfere with her movie life, Amalia said, "I don't see any reason why it would as long as one knows how to adjust one's time.  I have hired a competent nurse to take care of my child whenever I'm busy at work.  But of course I try my best to be with her whenever possible.  There's no substitute for a mother's love.

     "In raising my child, I want to give her the best things which I missed due to poverty in the earlier stage of my life.  This doesn't mean I will spoil her.  I will not spare the rod when necessary.  I want Anna-Lissa to grow up a normal child and attain a college degree, but if the movies interest her I have no objections whatsoever.

     "Winning the FAMAS award, besides giving me a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, has given me more responsibilities both as an actress and as a producer in the sense that I should prove myself worthy of it," concluded Amalia who never looked more lovelier, what with her happiness and contentment this year in receiving two God-sent previous gifts -- her baby and the FAMAS award.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

FLASHBACK ON LIEZL (Artista Magazine, December 10, 1981)

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FLASHBACK ON LIEZL
by Natalie Palanca

As Published in Artista Magazine
December 10, 1981

 AS I went over my collection of pictures for the past years na inilagi ko sa showbusiness at mapansin ko ang retrato ni Liezl ay napabuntung-hininga ako and said to myself:  How time flies.  Fifteen years ago na, pero parang kailan lamang ay child star pa lamang siya, occasionally appearing sa mga pelikula ng movie outfit ng kanyang Mommy (ang AM Productions) -- at ngayo'y heto siya't halos dalaga na.

     Marami nga ang nagtatanong kung kailan ba raw gagawa uli ng pelikula si Liezl.  Kasi nga naman, sayang pag tuluyang tinalikuran na ng unica hija na ito ni Amalia Fuentes ang pag-aartista, what with her beauty na pang-pelikula talaga at husay sa pag-arte na siyempre'y minana niya sa kanyang Mom and Dad na parehong batikang artista noong kanilang kapanahunan.

   Kung kailan nga, tanging si Liezl lamang ang makasasagot niyan.  But the way I look at it, sa ngayon ay wala pa sa isip ni Liezl na harapin ang pag-aartista dahil sa kanyang pag-aaral lamang nakaukol ang buo niyang panahon (she is a Junior student at St. Paul).

     Meantime, dear readers, habang may kalabuan pa nga kung kailan natin muling mapapanood sa pelikula ang future super actress na si Liezl, just enjoy na lang muna sa naritong mga picture niya when she was a child star.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

THE SWEET, THE SEXY, THE SCREWY, THE SERIOUS (The Weekly Nation, October 22, 1965)

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THE SWEET, THE SEXY, THE SCREWY, THE SERIOUS

Published in:  The Weekly Nation Magazine
                       October 22, 1965


VARIETY OF TYPES among local movie actresses has come, after some delay, with the evolution of the female film personality in other parts of the world.  Somehow, this development puts Filipino movie queens abreast of screen modes abroad.

     The singular sentimental type of old, therefore, has been washed out by the deluge of tearjerkers that cascaded from local studios until the early fifties.  In her place now are four distinct kinds:  the sweet, the sexy, the screwy, and the serious, each with its own public.

     Since before World War II, the sweet type projected the ideal Filipina.  Representatives of this line were Rosa del Rosario, Corazon Noble, Carmen Rosales, Tita Duran, and , later, Gloria Romero.  they struck a contrast to Hollywood's favorites of the time:  Marlene Dietrich, Hedy Lamarr, Dorothy Lamour, and other pre-war screen sirens.

     Today's most popular sweet babes of the local screen are Susan Roces, Rosemarie, Amalia Fuentes, plus a handful of less admired personalities.  Sampaguita Pictures is the home of the sweetest types in the country.

Susan -- Grace Kelly

     Susan Roces presents the Grace Kelly school -- prim and proper, model daughter, prudent in love, subdued in hate, composed in joy and dainty in sorrow.  Like Grace, Susan earned some sort of royal title herself when she became Queen of Philippine Movies a few years ago.

   Susan's kid sister, Rosemarie, is the modern teenager without parallel in other countries.  Actually a blooming young woman now, she is true to form even off the screen, just like her sister.  At the recent gala premiere of The Sandpiper, she appeared in the preceding fashion show in an elegant Filipino costume, bearing that alluringly meek carriage only a true-blood Filipina knows how to effect.

   Amalia Fuentes carries the sentimental strain in her sweetness even in real life.  When friends surprised her with a midnight asalto on her recent birthday, she sobbed her heart out in joy.

     In her roles, Amalia is a good-natured girl, an example of humility and kindness, but oppressed by the evil elements in love, fortune, and womanhood.  In her current picture, The Love Affair Of Amy And Bobby, which is being filmed in Europe, she plays an only daughter deeply in love with a playboy (Bobby), and victim of a fatal ailment.

     Joy is usually a glorious twist in Amalia's pictures.  The great appeal of her sweetness is in her loveliness in sadness.  Her girlish ways arouse heart throbs among her fans, and at 25 these are still her identifying marks.

Symbolize Fine Womanhood

     Susan, Rosemarie and Amalia differ in style but they all symbolize fine Filipino womanhood.  Their fans, on the other hand, themselves champions of Filipino womanhood in words, diehard Catholics and at the same time worshippers of the Beatles, gobble up such stuff and thereby keep the screen Maria Claras in business.

     The happy era in the early fifties spawned the screwy type of star, an offbeat swing from the proven moneymaker -- the cry baby.  Occasionally, the sweet types switch over to screwball roles where they are readily appreciated.  Susan, for instance, was  hit in her riotious Susanang Daldal and Susanang Twist.

     Rosemarie has been in a number of screwy-kid roles, but unlike Susan, she hasn't done down-to-earth slapsticks.  She confines herself to juvenile situation comedy.

     Amalia did some farce pieces early in her career.  Screwy roles are impractical for her now, for even in subtle comedy she must maintain her sweet-girl appeal.  If she has to be zany in some scenes, she has to end the picture projecting her characteristic selling point.

     The queen of the screwy type, the magnificent expert who hasn't been duplicated, is Nida Blanca.  She is still the mistress of the line after more than ten years of monopoly.  Her talent and appeal, yet undiminished, now delight more through television wherein she horses around with her perennial romantic foe, Nestor de Villa.

     A genius at comedy, Nida is superb in drama, as proved in her performance in Sa Atin Ang Daigdig.  She is a born all-around actress with an irrepressible bent for hilarity.

Burst On Screen

     Nida succeeded no one.  She burst on the local screen bringing a new style of comedy, a subtle one as compared with that of Patsy or Aruray.  The chuckles she provoked were a relief from the stodgy romances or the slapstick stuff of the time.

    Below Nida are the amateurs of humor, Sampaguita's brood who have not improved after a series of Mga Batang ... Being glamor starlets, they don't seem cut out for fine comedy.

      A far cry from the sweet and the screwy types is the sexy or the sex symbol as they have been called by psychoanalysts.  They are the most advanced (or retrogressive, depending on one's moral philosophy) creation in local movies.

     Though inferior in all respects to the sex symbols in other countries, the local femmes fatale are the boldest innovation in Tagalog film traditions.  These enchantresses were introduced by the breakers of the ancient mores in moviemaking in this country, the independent studios.

    The sex kittens enjoying box-office milk today are gorgeous Stella Suarez and shapely Divina Valencia.  Stella, with her voluptuous figure, is an adept screen temptress, while Divina, tall and statuesque, combines both seductiveness and seductivity.  The latter's sexiest form is in being raped and disrobed by villains.

     Both Stella and Divina specialize in action vehicles wherein they justifiably sport provoking costumes.  Sex in local pictures being a fad, the likes of Stella and Divina aren't expected to be around for long.  Meanwhile, they're giving movie viewers, particularly the male sector, an added spice to action, or something to look forward to.

The Serious Type

     A symbol of prestige in Filipino films is the serious type.  Elsewhere in the world this class is the one that survives the changes of morals and tastes.  Great dramatic stars of past decades, such as Ingrid Bergman, Maureen O'Hara, Deborah Kerr, Susan Hayward, and many other serious types are still going strong.
     Though, like their foreign counterparts, the local dramatic stars are the ones who have made the best films, they have been less prolific.  The Filipino movie industry is such that it kills quality for money.  Fortunately, the serious ones still get called into a serious picture once in a blue moon.  And so, talents like Lolita Rodriguez and Barbara Perez haven't entirely vanished.

      Our serious actresses are probably just as capable as foreign dramatic stars.  For one, Barbara earned good reviews in New York for her performance in No Man Is An Island a few years ago.  Locally, Lolita is still the recognized top dramatic star.

     Pursuing artistic satisfaction, the serious stars ignore glamor.  In a certain role Lolita appeared ugly as an alcoholic, while recently, in Daigdig Ng Mga Api, Barbara played a pregnant farmer's wife posing as such even in advertising photos.

     Such are the four main types of Filipino actresses for far.  Which is the best?  That depends on your taste.  But the ones whom most favor are still those with the best looks despite their histrionic shortcomings.

     However, not everyone can be beautiful, so there's room for all the sweet, the sexy, the screwy, and the serious.

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