Sunday, March 15, 2015

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

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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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