Favourite Spanish films from the 50s-70s

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The Hunt (La Caza, 1966). A suffocating, violent psychological thriller directed by Carlos Saura about three veterans who meet to go rabbit hunting – it works brilliantly as a metaphor of the pointless carnage that was the Spanish Civil War.

Death of a Cyclist (Muerte de un Ciclista, 1955). By Juan Antonio Bardem. A beautifully made drama/thriller that deals with the topics of morality and responsability, throwing a critical view to the Spanish upper classes during Franco’s regime.

The Strange Voyage (El Extraño Viaje, 1964) an indeed strange trip of noir drama, absurd comedy, and horror, masterfully directed by the prolific TV and film figure Fernando Fernán Gómez. Featuring some timid denounces of the Franco dictatorship, it amazes me that some elements of this hugely entertaining black comedy were ignored by the censorship at the time.

Main Street (Calle Mayor, 1956). Also directed by Juan Antonio Bardem, starring the American actress Betsy Blair. A beautifully filmed drama, highly recommended to fans of the Italian neorealist cinema.

Furrows (Surcos, 1951). It can be considered as another example of Spanish neorealism, Surcos is an impressive, accurate portrait of post-Civil War Spain during the darkest years of Franco’s dictatorship. The film surprisingly escaped censorship.

Raise Ravens (Cria Cuervos, 1976). The title comes from a Spanish proverb, “Raise ravens, and they’ll gouge your eyes out”, a somewhat macabre phrase generally used to describe someone who has had bad luck in raising their children. This is a gorgeous film where reality and fantasy swap places. 9 year old Ana Torrent shines in this as she did in Victor Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive (El Espiritu de la Colmena, 1973), another classic which features in my opinion one of the most memorable sequences in history of Spanish cinema.

The Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

Who Can Kill a Child? (¿Quien Puede Matar a un Niño?, 1976). On a completely different note, this superb horror film tells the story of an English couple on holiday who find an island inhabited by rather strange children…

And even though this is already the 80s, I would like to mention Mamasunción (1984). A wonderful short film that came out of the region of Spain I come from, Galicia. It’s a brilliant short film that shows the uniqueness of rural Galicia and its fascinating culture, as well as a view on immigration. This film is available to watch online here.

Also worth mentioning La Cabina (1972), El Pisito (1958), El Verdugo (1963), El Cochecito (1970) and Peppermint Frappé (1967).

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