Roberto Gavaldón: Mexico’s Auteur of Noir

The Golden Age of Mexican cinema began soon after the arrival of sound in the early 1930s and ended sometime between the mid-1950s and the early 1960s, depending on who’s telling the story. Here in the United States, the story isn’t told much at all, and when it is, the details are usually hazy. The signature achievements of the Western hemisphere’s second-most-robust film industry in the decades surrounding World War II are rarely screened in American repertory cinemas, and they remain largely absent from the DVD and streaming markets. Diligent auteurists may have a couple of points of reference: the Spaniard-in-exile Luis Buñuel (Los olvidados, The Exterminating Angel) and the cinematic muralist Emilio Fernández (María Candelaria, Río Escondido). Camped out somewhere in that landscape is Roberto Gavaldón, the subject of a thirteen-film retrospective now playing at MoMA.

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