Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Life will give you surprises, surprises life will give you.

In 1978, Pedro Navaja (aka "Peter Blade") was first created in a catchy salsa song by Panamanian singer Ruben Blades whom was inspired by Bobby Darin’s “Mack The Knife”. The Pedro Navaja song was a hit amongst Latinos and was often covered by other artists all around Latin-America. To this day, the Ruben Blades original song is well-known & naturally favorited. A few years after the Ruben Blades song and it’s covers dominated dance halls & parties; Mexican movie producer Edgardo Gazcon and writers Ramon Obon & Alfonso Rosas Priego came together to adapt the Pedro Navaja song into a movie. I mean, Who wouldn’t want to make a movie about Pedro Navaja? It’s a story about the life & death of a badass pimp. A definite hit for sure, que no?

Another late night has come and Pedro Navaja (Andres Garcia) has awaken from his daytime sleep. His girlfriend Rosa (Maribel Guardia) and his younger brother Memo (Edgardo Gaszcon) help him get ready to hit up the streets and check on all his hookers & collect his pay. Pedro Navaja always walks with his hands inside his coat pockets so no one can know what side he keeps his switchblade knife, he always wears his signature hat with the brim slightly pulled up to one side, rubber soles are in his shoes so he can run smoothly when necessary, wears dark shades so no one can know where’s he’s looking at and he has a gold tooth that shines so bright when he smiles. Pedro Navaja has class & style & is ready for the night!

 Pedro Navaja then sees all his girls, gets his money & tells them always to work hard to “keep their daddy happy”. As Pedro goes around the city, he also goes to the local cabaret for some drinks & fun with one of his girls followed by having some steamy sex with her. This casual night however turns deadly when Pedro has a knife fight with his mentor “El Conde” whom suspects Pedro is trying to steal one of his girls. El Conde is then killed by Pedro’s rival “El Cumbias” (Sergio Goyri) and frames Pedro for the murder. As Pedro dodges the police, he also continues to struggle keeping Rosa happy since she feels very neglected by him and El Cumbias tries to convince her to be with him & promises her a life of luxury, which causes Rosa to really think about what she wants in life and who to be with. When the baddest cabaret dancer/hooker “La Tijuana” (Sasha Montenegro) comes to town, Pedro and Cumbias compete for her and ultimately Pedro wins her via a knife throwing competition. This eventually leads to the familiar demise of Pedro Navaja and a now-turned hooker Rosa (La Mujer). Life will give you surprises, surprises will life give you. 

 From what I’ve gathered, it seems Ruben Blades wasn’t fond of the Pedro Navaja movie portrayal and some say he didn’t even authorize it as well. Whatever the case may be, the Pedro Navaja movie had become a cult classic of sorts often playing on tv through out the years and it’s one of Andres Garcia’s most memorable roles and it should be memorable since he really did do a good job playing this classy pimp and he pretty much gave Pedro Navaja a face to picture when listening to the song. Also have to note that Pedro Navaja in the movie is said to be from New York and moved out to Mexico. Andres Garcia also speaks with a sort of Latin-New Yorker accent to be convincing, so they keep the character’s background faithful in the movie. Why Pedro Navaja moved to Mexico from New York is not explained.

 Next to Andres Garcia’s wonderful performance as Pedro Navaja, the movie also features other great actors playing interesting characters. Maribel Guardia plays Rosa, the amazingly attractive & affection-starved girlfriend of Pedro’s who eventually betrays him at the end. Pedro Navaja’s nemesis El Cumbias (Sergio Goyri, in a memorable role of his) is an interesting fellow since he despises Pedro so bad to the point where he wants him framed for the murder of El Conde and eventually steals Rosa away from him by feeding her bullshit and turning her into a hooker. Then we have comedic relief Micky Inflaus (played by Adalberto Martinez “Resortes”), a drunken bum & close friend of Pedro’s from the New York days. At first I didn’t understand the point of Micky Inflaus in the movie, but eventually he’s the drunk who takes the knife, gun and money from the lifeless Pedro Navaja & Rosa, just as the song mentions. Speaking of the song; the song that plays in the movie isn’t the original Ruben Blades song, but the cover version by Los Joao. Which is just as cool, but slightly shorter.

 Pedro Navaja is a great movie. It’s a memorable movie with great characters & a great story based on an old popular song. Andres Garcia is cool as hell in the movie of course and Maribel Guardia is wonderful to see as always. There’s a scene where she’s changing into a dress and Los Joao’s sensual synth song “Rosa” plays in the background and it’s so damn perfect (ahh!). I also can’t forget to mention how great Sasha Montenegro is in the movie as well. After all, she performs a wonderful striptease with dudes in panda bear suits and naturally looking hot as hell through out the movie. She barely speaks in the movie, but it didn’t matter at all. Sasha can just look at the camera and immediately get the viewer’s attention because her beauty is so eye-catching.

One of these days, I’ll post a nice list of great 1980’s Mexican movies and for sure you will see Pedro Navaja on this list. It is worth a watch and when you watch it, you will not forget it and be humming the Pedro Navaja song and picture Andres Garcia in this character he visually brought to life.

From the Ruben Blades website, here are the lyrics in English followed by the cover version by Los Joao.

I saw him turn the corner of the old neighborhood, walking the walk of the cool and slick dudes, with his hands inside his jacket pockets as always so nobody can tell where he carries the blade. 

 He wears a wide brim hat tipped to the side, and rubber soles just in case he needs to scram dark glasses so nobody can see what he’s looking at and a shiny gold tooth that gleams when he smiles.

 On a corner three blocks away there’s a woman walking up and down the sidewalk for the fifth time, she goes in an alley and takes a swig of liquor to help her forget that is a slow work day and there aren’t any clients. 

 A car goes slowly down the boulevard it has no marks but everybody knows it”s a police car Pedro Navaja with his hands always inside his jacket glances and smiles while his golden tooth shines again.

 As he walks he checks out both corners, there isn’t a soul in the entire boulevard, when all of a sudden the woman jumps out of the alley and Pedro Navaja clenches a fist inside his jacket.

 He turns his head from side to side, and quickly crosses the street, and meanwhile on the other sidewalk the woman grumbles ‘cause she made no money to buy food. 

As she walks, the woman pulls a gun out of her old coat she is going to put it in her purse, it’s too bulky, a “38 Smith & Wesson special edition that she carries with her to keep her free from evil...

 And Pedro Navaja jumped on her knife in hand, the golden tooth lighting up the boulevard, easy gig! He laughed hard as he stabbed her mercilessly when all of a sudden a loud gunshot was heard and Pedro Navaja fell on the sidewalk, while the woman gun in hand and fatally wounded hollered at him: I thought this wasn’t my day, I have no luck, but Pedro Navaja you are much worse, you are a nobody”

 And believe me, people, even though it was noisy, nobody showed up, nobody was nosy, nobody asked questions, nobody cried, Only a drunkard tripped over both bodies, Picked up the gun, the blade, the money and took off. And as he stumbled away he sang out of tune this choir I made up for you that gives the message of my song: Life will give your surprises Surprises will life give you, oh God..