Friday, November 4, 2011

Week 32: Santo en el misterio de la perla negra (Santo in the Mystery of the Black Pearl, 1971)

    So we're back to glorious black & white, in the 70s...Yeah, I don't know why this movie is in black & white, considering that the previous dozen or so movies are in color. My guess is that since the copy I watched was recorded off Mexican TV, that this is some TV print from whenever. I've read that this happened with these movies from time to time. Needless to say, all my screen caps are in black & white. If this is a problem for you, then you probably also can't read, or breath oxygen for that matter. 

A Lady Luchador melee.

       This time out, Santo is called in to deal with jewel smugglers from Spain. They've got their hands on pearls, or something. It's all sorted vague what they're dealing in. For some reason they need to smuggle their load of jewels to Vera Cruz. This somehow involves murdering and hitting people over the head with billy clubs. Santo is brought in by Interpol, I guess, to track the smugglers movements and put a stop to them.

Santo's always got time for a match!

       Santo's mostly on his own throughout this one. I wish I could get more excited about that, since a lot of times he's saddled with some know nothing sidekick cop or agent or scientist, idiot person. Nope, he flies solo through most of this movie, and he's pretty inept at it. He's clubbed over the head, almost drowned, imprisoned in castles, and even has a knife thrown at him while eating dinner. It's okay though, because while his quarry, the smugglers, seem as dapper as they are arrogant, they're pretty inept too. They have plenty of chances to kill Santo, hell, they have plenty of chances to unmask him, after incapacitating him, and they totally blow it, leaving Santo free to meddle in their smuggling plans some more. 

       I actually found myself paying more attention to Santo's mask throughout this film than actually paying attention to its threadbare plot. Santo switches between three different masks throughout the movie. This isn't some gimmick like Thousand Masks had in last week's movie either. They don't just change out from scene to scene. They will literally change from shot to shot. Look at these examples below...

The "Sparkle" mask

The "Water" mask

The "Saggy" mask

           As you can see, I'm nicknamed all of them. There's the sparkle mask, which only appears once or twice in the movie, and then it seems to mostly be a "hero" mask of sorts, that Santo wears when around a female character. You don't see it during a fight sequence. The water mask appears almost always during Santo's scenes involving water. This is not limited to him swimming either. There's a shot of Santo being awakened with a bucket of cold water. He's wearing it then too. The most perplexing one is the saggy mask. This thing appears throughout the movie, seemingly at random. It's so shoddy and craptastic, that it wouldn't surprise me if this was Santo's back up mask, for when he needs to go do some good deeds on laundry day. 

        I don't really have much else to say about this one, other than I question the reasons for even bothering to make it in the first place. The only thing I care to guess is that Santo and company saw some of the superior crime films coming out of the States, like The French Connection, and tried to achieve something in the vein, without having a really well thought out plot. 


One silver mask out of a possible five.

Fun Fact: Also known in some territories as The Caribbean Connection, this film was released in Spain in 1971, but didn't see release in Mexico in 1975.

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