Original Title: El Enmascarado de Plata (The Silver Masked Man)
Director: René Cardona
Writer: René Cardona, José G. Cruz, Ramón Obón
A silver-masked hero steps in to attempt to thwart the plans of a crime syndicate, led by the sinister El Tigre, to steal from a local rich man.
Hmm, I guess that will suffice.
Here is my second review today for another piece of lucha history. It has been hard for me to determine whether or not this film or Huracan Ramirez came first, (it seems as though this came just a bit later) this film is significant for a couple reasons.
First, it really sets the theme for luchador films to follow. We have masked heroes and villains, secret hideouts, etc. and the luchador hero fights crime as well has holds down a professional wrestling gig.
Secondly, this film was written for and pitched to someone you may just be already familiar with... El Santo, hence the name El Enmascarado de Plata. Silver Mask - just like Santo. Santo, however, turned down this role because he thought the movie would flop. It wasn't until a few years later with Santo Contra Cerebro Del Mal in 1958 (1961?) that Santo was talked into starring in a few films. Just a few... and the lucha film genre really took off.
The role was given instead to a big wrestler named El Medico Asesino (The Murderer Doctor - ha!), who was just referred to as El Medico here as not to seem unheroic I guess. See, I told you his name would come back up! Being a bigger guy, he just kind of lumbers around in the flick and lets the action come to him, but that's OK.
They really could have given him a more exciting costume though as opposed to his normal ring wear which consisted of his NOT silver mask and his mid-century doctor scrubs. His arch rivals in the film were FAR more interesting to look at!
The film was originally presented as 11 15-minute or so serials, so the parts of this seem very episodic. There are lots of "cliffhangers" stuck in there. Also, as a result it is overly long at a hair over 2 hours.. I really think this would have been better either somehow edited down or watched in pieces as originally intended.
Despite not having subtitles, the plot is fairly easy to follow. It flows like a comic strip, and at times really felt like it borrowed heavily from something like Batman. The suited mafiaesque villains would show up and cause trouble, Silver Mask would rush in and punch them all out, then he would have to escape from some sort of danger. He has eventually a sidekick who helps out later on, and a leading lady who wants nothing more than to figure out his identity.
You get some standard fare for lucha films with cliff falls, car chases (sort of), near superhuman feats, and even wacky science lab machines that like to puff smoke and burst into flames if bumped too much!
The film is very well shot I thought... even looked a bit film noir at times with lots of murky shadows, sinister music, and such. Cardona (there's that name again!) did a good job with these, I thought. It was a nice intro for him into the genre which would be a go-to for him for awhile.
There's not a lot more to say about this one. The acting is the same over-the-top stuff you get from so many films from the 50s, (minus the stiff mask-acting from El Medico himself), it is very straightforward, but at the same time it's entertaining... definitely moreso than Huracan Ramirez, and it is prettier to look at as well. Getting a lot more screentime for the masked heroes (and villains in this case) is a definite plus.
I love that the lucha genre began to head in this direction.
Hey, you even get a wrestling match thrown in there toward the end as El Medico wrestles HIMSELF in a mask vs. mask match! Yeah!
I would definitely recommend this film for completists.
It's overly long, but maybe if you watch it in pieces it would be easier to swallow.
Score: 5.75 / 10