HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Laguna Ave.
Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11
Amulet
Flag Day
Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster
Nest, The
Martin Eden
Halloween Kills
Cicada
Sun Shines Bright, The
Last Thing Mary Saw, The
Comets
Herself
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Eternals
Forever Purge, The
Memoria
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Japon
Glasshouse
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Malignant
Deadly Games
Ailey
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
Zola
No Time to Die
Klaus
   
 
Newest Articles
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
   
 
  Zoot Suit Sharp Dressed Man
Year: 1981
Director: Luis Valdez
Stars: Daniel Valdez, Edward James Olmos, Charles Aidman, Tyne Daly, John Anderson, Abel Franco, Mike Gomez, Alma Martínez, Francis X. McCarthy, Lupe Ontiveros, Ed Peck, Robert Phalen, Tony Plana, Rose Portillo, Marco Rodríguez, Robert Beltran, Kurtwood Smith
Genre: Musical, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: This story is based in fact. The year is 1942 in Los Angeles and although the Second World War is raging abroad, the news headlines of America are seized by the grip of the so-called Zoot Suit riots, bursts of violence involving the Mexican-Americans, known in the press as "Pachucos". One cause celebre of the era was the killing of one man in such a skirmish, and the miscarriage of justice that resulted from it when four men, three of them Mexicans, were put on trial for the murder in spite of flimsy evidence. We follow the story of one of the men, Henry Reyna (Daniel Valdez) who finds himself torn between the U.S.A. and Mexico in the process...

Zoot Suit was adapted by director Luis Valdez from his stage play, a success in America that naturally was translated to the big screen. However, he might have employed various cinematic tricks in this version, but the work still remained resolutely stagebound. This was intentional, and the stylised nature of the production, which was a musical of sorts, helped to make the more theatrical elements more palatable for this medium. Holding it all together was a remarkable, star-making turn from Edward James Olmos as El Pachuco, at once our hostile narrator, a commentator on the action and a symbol of nineteen-forties Mexican pride.

El Pachuco has a great suspicion of the white Americans who he believes, and is proven right in some cases, are treating the immigrants from south of the border as second-class citizens. Valdez the writer is careful to set up Henry's home life with his parents, brother and sister in an early scene, either to strike a chord with those who had similar upbringings or to flesh out his characters and the culture they arose from. Daniel Valdez, the director's brother, acquits himself well as a young man whose identity is in conflict: is he simply a chap out for a good time, or is he the criminal that the law has painted him as?

There's no doubt whose side the film is on, and once Henry and his friends are arrested, they have to endure a trial where the judge (John Anderson) is hopelessly ignorant, never mind unthinkingly racist with his orders for the accused to stand up whenever they hear their names so the jury can identify which is which, among other things. There are more objections from the lawyer here than in a month of court cases. And to add to the indignity, they are convicted on the slimmest of proof - we know that this is a farce, and fortunately others do too, but the only ones who can help them now are a white legal team.

El Pachuco, kind of Henry's conscience here (he is the only one who can see him), feels that he and his friends are being patronised by these liberals, but Henry proves a happy medium can exist. All the way through Olmos makes the film his own as far as performances go, although Valdez's Henry and Tyne Daly's protest worker Alice also make a good impression. But Olmos struts a strking figure in his black zoot suit, singing and dancing and always aggressive and commanding, filled with righteous and sneering anger - he's terrific and makes the film worth seeing. Elsewhere, the musical numbers use the tunes of the day to fine effect, with accompanying moves that are only interrupted when racial tensions erupt. It's injustice which fuels Zoot Suit, and even though it's artificial-looking, it has a genuine indignation that has it standing out among most musicals of its era.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 6226 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: