"The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz / Ensayo
de un Crimen" made in 1955 by Buñuel, co-scripted with E.
and based on the story by Rodolfo Usigli is a light-hearted Crime-Comedy
but with some uniquely Buñuellian macabre scenes.
Please note that I don't speak Spanish and as there were no english
subtitles on this DVD i could've missed some things going on.
Made in México this film is one among the best of his Méxican
made films but needless to say it's one of the by arty-farty French
totally neglected Buñuel films. Only his late elegant one's making
fun of the Bourgeoisie counts for these cretins, with the result
that his 1960's and late films have been re-released again and yet again
on high quality DVD's, Blu-rays and probably also 4K.
But, with his Méxican period films from the 1950's being totally
ignored, and even the MASTERPIECE Los Olvidados also so.
Yes, many of these were made routinely and for a mainstream Méxican
audience, but some showed Buñuel's genius, as "El",
Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz", "Nazarin" and
of course "Los Olvidados".
Above: The Young Archibaldo de la Cruz and the fatal
Above: The Old Archibaldo de la Cruz and the fatal music
"Ensayo de un Crimen" is probably my second
most favourite Buñuel 1950's film (after Los Olvidados) and in
the Top Five
Méxican films counting the 1960's one's as "Símón
del Desierto", "El ángel exterminador" and "Viridiana"
(the last two i
consider being Méxican films produced in/by
Spain or not). Regarding the 1959 "Nazarin" i haven't seen
it yet (due to lack of
english subtitles friendly editions in high quality) but i for sure
is looking forward to it.
is delightful in this black crime comedy
melodrama as the seriously fucked
up Archibaldo de la Cruz.
SPOILERS BELOW - SPOILERS BELOW
The film starts with Archibaldo narrating his childhood. He grew up
in a rich family with a mother that adored him and he had
a gorgeous Nanny/Governess (Leonor Llausas) and he loved his music box.
There was a revolution going on outside of the
mansion with lots of shooting and when the governess takes a peek at
the window, she's shot and dies by a stray bullet..
She falls and lies on the floor in a heap, with her blood flowing and
with her nude legs showing and young Archibaldo stares
fascinated at this for the kid exciting and "arousing scene".
This, the moment that came to shape his grown life, his sexuality,
his perverted sexuality and what would turn him into a murderer - or
a wannabe murderer. Pretty strong stuff for a comedy and
one of these things that make Luis Buñuel an unique film director.
Above: Dead Governess
Above: Archibaldo and The Nun
After this narration flashback scene we get to see Archibaldo
de la Cruz as a grown middle-aged man and he's in a hospital (for
some reason i don't know as i don't speak spanish). A cute Nun looks
to him (Chabela Durán) and he suddenly attacks her
with a razor whereupon she flees and falls down an elevator shaft and
dies in what everyone regards as an accident.
Archibaldo is a Pervert, but a Rich pervert and a nobleman and everyone's
One day he sees his old music box in an antique shop and he's happy
as a Lark and buys it. When he plays it at home he gets
distorted visions of the dead bleeding governess and he gets much excited
and wants to murder.
Archibaldo de la Cruz could be a proto-giallo
murderer, and this scene with him in the bathroom
with a razor and the music
from the music box plus the crazed distorted memory looks very much
as the one in Dario Argento's "Tenebre" with the psycho
remembering Eva Robins on the beach in a distorted vision. Yeah, Archibaldo
wears black gloves too with his razor.
Above: Archibaldo and Lavinia The Doll
Archibaldo de la Cruz is a rich man and a bachelor
and has a workshop in his mansion where he makes pottery.
A sexy but a bit of a floozy woman, Patricia (Rita
Macedo) flirts with him and invites him home, and he gets excited
and plans to murder her with his razor, but .... her husband turns up
and Archibaldo has to avert his plans.
The next day Patricia is found dead with her throat slit, but with a
suicide letter at her side and Archibaldo is
perfectly innocent. (In a Casino scene Patricia sensually caresses her
shoe, no film without a Buñuel shoe fetish
moment and more fetishistic charged scenes were to follow).
Archibaldo then meets a beautiful woman in a bar, Lavinia
(Miroslava Stern) who works as a model and who poses
for a mannequin doll maker. When he sees an exact replica of her in
a fashion house he buys the mannequin doll.
He also courts a young woman, Carlota (Ariadna Welter) even though she
already has a boyfriend, Alejandro the
architect (Rodolfo Landa) .... and, Archibaldo lustfully and joyously
plans to murder both these women.
Above: Archibaldo and his pottery workshop oven
Above: The Demise of Lavinia The Doll
Yet again his killing plans are thwarted, when at his
wedding with Carlota her ex-boyfriend turns up and shoots her,
when a group of gringo tourists unexpectedly turns up at his workshop
when he's about to murder Lavinia. So, he has
to kill the Lavinia replica doll instead by burning her/it in his oven.
So, probably Archibaldo isn't a murderer after all,
4 (four) times his plans have being thwarted. The Nun run into an
elevator shaft and fell to her death, Patricia died by her own hands
or her husbands hands, Carlota was shot by her
ex-boyfriend and Lavinia was saved by a group of american tourists.
And this film ends on a happy note when he
meets Lavinia again in a park and they walk away together. Hopefully
he won't plan any murders in the future.
There are some remarkably macabre scenes in this film
with the death of the governess and the cremation of the doll.
Also, there are some erotic and fetishistic scenes as Patricias shoe,
Archibaldo caressing the female underwear he's
putting on the Lavinia doll and Archibaldo kissing the doll, and Lavinia
dressing up in the doll's clothing.
The film is presented in original 4: 3 fullscreen ratio,
black & white, with 2.0 stereo, No subs, No extras, region all
This spanish DVD had fine picture quality. A tragic fact is that beautiful
actress Miroslava Stern (playing Lavinia)
committed suicide shortly after this film