Friday, August 19, 2011

Week 21: Santo contra Capulina (Santo vs. Capulina, 1968)

          So Santo and the gang decided that for his 21st movie, he should do a buddy comedy, or at least what the 1960s Mexican film industry's idea of a buddy comedy. The result is Santo vs. Capulina. "Capulina" is the artistic name of Latin American comedian Gaspar Henaine Perez, a pioneer in what he dubbed Mexican "White humor". I'm not exactly sure what white humor is, but I assume its the innocuous physical humor this fat gentleman performs through the movie. 

  The plot of the movie concerns Capulina working as a night watchman at a massive shipping & receiving warehouse. Of course, Capulina is a lazy poor bum, who not only wears a hat with no top, but  goes to elaborate lengths to sleep on the job. It doesn't make any sense at all. Capulina has turned a large empty crate into a sleep quarters where he brings the turn keys to somehow turn them off on his clock before his deadline, even though he's apparently sleeping. Thieves  break into the place to steal something, which is where Santo gets involved. Capulina proves just how bumbling an idiot he is by managing to totally let the thieves go while hindering Santo from chasing them down. 

He's sleeping on the job.....GET IT?!?!

       The movie's chock full of dopey physical humor like this. My first instinct is to maybe think that there's a cultural aspect to it that I'm missing. Maybe this type of physical humor makes more sense to Latin Americans. But as the movie progressed, I came to the conclusion that a lot of it is just dated. It's the kind of humor that died out in stateside cinemas with Laurel & Hardy, and managed to limp on via American television on shows like Gilligan's Island and Three's Company. The only site gag that I actually laughed out loud at was one where Capulina asks Santo to show him some wrestling moves. Santo says "I'll show you a key" and then produces a key ring from his pocket. It's all pretty innocuous. 

A half assed attempt to rip off the chase scene from Bullit.

        The only point in which the film got anywhere near risky humor, and when it did it seemed to flirt with pedophilia, was a scene where Capulina is coaching a group of elementary school boys to speed walk for the Olympics. A good portion of the scene is quick cuts of little boy asses shaking, interspersed with Capulina's big swaying ass. I'm not sure how much of this was intentional (I'm hoping none of it) but its questionable...

Pedo epic!

    Santo is almost a sidekick in this and for the most part seems bored. There's a plot involving a scientist being forced to make robotic duplicates of Santo's friends and colleagues in an effort to kill him. Capulina is even duplicated at one point. None of it is ever really explained properly though. For some reason, the titular villain of the piece is smuggling diamonds into the country. He spends most of the movie in a wheelchair, then suddenly gets up and flees from police gunfire. When Capulina asks Santo why he'd pretend, Santo says "who'd suspect a cripple?". Making fun of the handicapped is fun! 

If you could see Santo's face, you'd see disdain...

       One thing I did notice is that Santo has continued to wear Turtlenecks. The cape and wrestling gear he sports when doing his superhero Schick seem to be long gone, at least for now. This is a hipper El Santo. Gone also, is the white convertible. Santo now drives a fancy blue mustang fastback. They almost attempt to do a rip off of the chase scene from Bullit, only to get second thoughts about it and ditch the whole chase scene completely. 

Santo's thoughts on his co-star.

      Santo's big leap into comedy isn't really a laugh riot. Most of the movie is spent with Capulina, and a lot of innocuous physical humor. There's a moment in the movie where I thought we might get into some weird psychological themes, when Capulina purchases a replica Santo mask and parades around the neighborhood as him, to the point of even being mistaken by the antagonists as Santo (the explanation for his sudden weight gain dismissed as a bullet proof vest). Since the film is title Santo VS. Capulina, I suddenly had hopes of Capulina becoming a deranged fan of sorts, obsessed with the idea of replacing Santo with himself, but alas, it was never to be.


Two silver masks out of a possible five.

Fun Fact: Long before this team up with Santo, Capulina had made a number of comedic films with partner "Viruta". The pair were considered to be a Latin American counterpart to Laurel & Hardy.


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