Spanish Cinema Under Franco

From the end of the Second World War in 1945 to the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 Spanish society and cinema were in an unique position within Europe. While Franco had benefited from the support of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in the Spanish Civil War he had declined to reciprocate during the Second World War. As a result he remained in power, a valued bulwark against communism in the post-war realignment. This situation, needless to say, gave politically engaged left-wing filmmakers in Spain plenty to work with – always assuming, of course, that they could get their critiques past the censors.

Welcome Mr Marshall! / Bienvenido Mister Marshall

Luis García Berlanga | Spain | 1953 | 78 minutes

After finding out that North American people are visiting the Spanish villages, the citizens of Villar del Río start preparing themselves to welcome them when they arrive.

Death of a Cyclist / Muerte de un ciclista

Juan Antonio Bardem | Spain | 1955 | 88 minutes

Juan is an academic, his career stalled, teaching at the university because of his brother-in-law’s prestige. María José is a socialite, married to wealth, bored but attached to her comforts. The two are lovers. On an isolated country road, their car strikes a cyclist; fearing exposure, they leave him to die. Distracted, Juan unjustly fails a student. Rafa, a bitter savant in their social circle, hints that he knows something, and he threatens to expose them to María José’s husband, Miguel. Miguel’s pride may be the lovers’ best hope. Then Juan proposes a solution.

Main Street / Calle mayor

Juan Antonio Bardem | Spain | 1956 | 99 minutes

A couple of friends decide to have a good time and play a trick on an unmarried woman. Therefore one of them has to pretend to fall in love with her.

US actress Betsy Blair fled her homeland for political reasons as a consequence of McCarthyism. Spain might seem an odd choice of refuge given Francoism.

The Wheelchair / El cochecito

Marco Ferreri | Spain | 1960 | 85 minutes

Seventy-something Don Anselmo, a retired minister, becomes obsessed with owning a motorized wheelchair and fakes infirmity to get it.

The Executioner / El vergudo

Luis García Berlanga | Spain | 1963 | 95 minutes

An undertaker gets married to an old executioner’s daughter and, although he doesn’t like it, must continue the profession of his father-in-law after his retirement.

Cousin Angelica / La prima Angélica

Carlos Saura | Spain | 1974 | 107 minutes

When the single middle-aged Luis travels from Barcelona to bury the remains of his mother in the vault of his family in Segovia, he is lodged by his aunt Pilar in her old house where he spent his summer of 1936 with her. He meets his cousin Angelica, who was his first love, living on the first floor with her husband and daughter, and he recalls his childhood in times of the Spanish Civil War entwined with the present.