|Adolfo Martinez Solares on set. All behind the scenes photos courtesy of Adolfo.
I have known of these movies since I was a child because I very much remember my parents watching them on TV or had rented them on video. Many Mexican-American millennials like myself have similar memories of these movies since they too remember their families watching them. At a comedy show I attended last year, Luis De Alba was performing there and it was not surprising seeing people from their mid to late 20’s all the way through their 70’s at this show watching Luis De Alba performing all his famous characters and laughing away. They grew up watching this man in the movies doing some crazy stuff and getting all the beautiful women he wanted. These particular Mexican sex comedies had left a little mark on many people from Mexico and the Mexicans living in the United States. They had entertained so much then and continue to entertain for those who still remember how fun these movies are.
I had wondered a while back who exactly was behind these movies aside from the actors. Who wrote these movies? Who directed them? And why? As time went by, I had learned these movies were made by one of the most well-known & prestigious Mexican filmmakers of all time: Gilberto Martinez Solares. His son Adolfo Martinez Solares would later join him in filmmaking and thus these movies were born.
Gilberto Martinez Solares had made up to 200 films in his career and many of them were comedies starring the famous German “Tin Tan” Valdes and Antonio Espino “Clavillazo”. Later in his career, Gilberto and his son went on to make the Horror/Nunsploitation cult classic “Satanico Pandemonium” and crime-dramas set around border towns in Texas. When the 80’s came, the sex comedies were made and they were very successful for the Solares’. After the decade long of making these wild sex comedies; Adolfo and his father settled to make prestigious movies that still contained sexual themes, but told a far more serious story. Movies such as “La Mujer Para Dos”, “Mujeres Infieles” and “Crímenes De Pasión” are prime examples of prestigious dramas that the Solares’ had made.
I had the opportunity to speak with Adolfo Martinez Solares through our wonderful mutual friend Peter Hamilton. This interview was the best thing that could ever happen to Trash-Mex and I want to thank Peter very much for getting me in touch with Adolfo. To Adolfo, I thank him very much for giving me the time to speak with him and learning so much about his fascinating career and knowing more about his father.
|Don Gilberto Martinez Solares on set.
Adolfo Martinez Solares is “AMS”.
I, Armando Hernandez is “AH”.
AH: So with the pandemic happening, have you just been working from home?
AMS: Yes, I have been working at home. I prefer to not go out because it’s too risky to be out there for the possibility of getting sick & dying from this pandemic. A lot of people have died from this and that really scares me. So I prefer to stay in and with my time being at home, I write all my movies still.
AH: Have you been directing your recent movies?
AMS: I’m actually not directing because I get movies made monthly & even yearly. I hire other directors and they are under my supervision. I tell them I want a director who will get what I have in my script done. So they go over how the nudity scenes will come & how the comedy scenes will happen. I meet with the directors once or twice to go over the shooting script and the people in the production always send me clips and so I see how the scenes are coming along and I’ll then message the directors: “this actor is overdoing this, put this more below, this is too plain, lets dress them up better.” Stuff like that. So it’s like I’m giving them directions. I have a great team of directors who I know very well and have now worked together for some time and so they know what I want. And this way we are making 20-25 movies a year. With that, I don’t always have the time to fully direct.
All my life I’ve been directing the movies when my father wasn’t. I’m the 2nd generation in our filmmaking business. It all began with my father, then me and now my sons are doing this. So it was my father who was director and he was my teacher who taught me everything about filmmaking. I owe it all to him. He was the one who directed the most. In 1983, he told me, “Adolfo, I’m getting older. I think it’s time for you to start directing, but I feel maybe you are fearing to do this. Are you afraid to?” I told him: “It’s nothing like that, dad. I just always feel your position as director is more for you, don’t you think? I want you always to be director of our movies.” I began with him writing and I’d think “how can I compete with my father as a director?”.
In 1983, I directed my first movie El Dia De Los Albañiles. It would then go with me directing one movie and my father would direct the others. Then something funny happened because we both said “Why don’t we both direct the movies together? Instead of having all the actors together, I’ll set a team up and I’ll film with them. You do things with Zayas, I’ll do things with De Alba and like that we’ll be ahead and have double the work done.” My father had always insisted I learn all the areas of filmmaking. I assisted with production, I then became an editor, I did cinematography and began writing at a very young age with my father and I then became a director.
AH: Your father Gilberto Martinez Solares had a long & very successful career in filmmaking. With 200 films to credit. What was growing up like being the son of such an active & fascinating filmmaker? What made you want to be a filmmaker yourself? Did he want you to follow in his footsteps? If not, what did you want to do as a career?
AMS: My father had indeed made about 200 films as director and he also wrote them. I don’t know how he did so much work in his life all while having the time in being a father. A wonderful father. He also was a cinematographer as well, that’s how he started his career in filmmaking. Cinematographer first then as a writer and went on to direct.
He was a little opposed of me working in filmmaking because he had suffered high & low’s in filmmaking. Sometimes there were good times & bad times. He would tell me “You’re the youngest of 4 siblings and they all have gone to the university, so I want you to be prepared in life. That’s important.” So I went to college, studied chemical engineering and received high honors. After I finished that, I started to work with him and began my career in filmmaking. But since I was a kid I had always loved the cinema. My father would take me to the studios with him and I would sit there on the sets and would think “wow I want to be just like dad when I’m big. He’s having good time.” I would see him and the crew laughing & having a good time. There would be beautiful women on the sets all the time as well. I wanted to be involved in all that myself.
AH: Do you remember Tin Tan & the others from those days?
AMS: Oh, yes of course. I knew him very well. Tin Tan would often go to my house and he had always made films with my father. I knew him very much and his brothers and everyone else of the Valdes family. I’ve got to work with Don Ramon several times and made the movie with La India Maria.
German “Tin Tan” Valdes who was a wonderful, wonderful actor; lived a care-free life of partying and always had a group of friends he would hang out with and one time he went to sleep in Mexico and then he’d wake up in Cuba. Things like that would happen to him and he would disappear for days from sets. But my dad being the director; he didn’t fight with him and on the contrary, when Tin Tan would finally arrive on set he would tell everyone “Okay, Tin Tan is here. Everybody get to work.” A producer would then tell him “Say something to him Don Gilberto!”, my dad would respond: “No I won’t. That’s not my job. My job is to be good with him.” He would then say “German, I’m glad you’re back. Now get to work.” “Forgive me Don Gil.” German would tell my father and then turn to the producer and say “You. Fuck You.” then turned back to my father: “Don Gil, I’m so sorry about this, but my lady was kissing me goodbye as I was leaving the house, then we kissed some more and then we screwed. We kept going at it and that’s why I’m late.” “Okay, German, jajaja” my dad would laugh and everyone else around as well. Then everything was good. My dad was patient. He would wait around for everyone to come while reading a book. And never did he get into conflicts with the actors. Never.
|personal scan of my Chucho El Remendado lobby card.
AH: He was friends with everyone then.
AMS: He was friends with everyone. He was a man who was well-respected by all since he was always professional. And my dad did get mad at times, but it was very rare to see him mad.
AH: Jose Rene Ruiz “Tun Tun” was a familiar face in those old comedies and later on in the sexy comedies. A little icon of that genre basically. How did you all begin to work with him? What was it like working with him?
AMS: Tun Tun began as a dancer and an actor in Burlesque shows. He would actively work in Las Vegas since he was a great dancer & an amazing singer. In one show, a gorgeous woman dressed as a nanny is pushing a stroller which had Tun Tun; dressed up as a baby and with a pacifier on. Then the music begins to play, the woman starts to dance and strips some of her clothing off, Tun Tun then gets out of the stroller and begins to dance with her. Those were the type of shows Tun Tun was doing then.
My father got to know him and put him in his films. The nickname Tun Tun derives a little from “Tin Tan”. So there was Tin Tan and Tun Tun in the movies. Tun Tun was an excellent person. He was very different from German (Tin Tan). He was serious in his personal life, he didn’t drink or do drugs and he was a person who always was professional & on point.
AH: I got to meet Luis De Alba last year at a comedy show he was doing and I told him how I loved the movies he made with you and he mentioned he still does make movies with you since he has a contract with you still.
AMS: Yeah I have him around still. He was our exclusive actor for many years. Any chance we get, he’ll appear in our movies. He lives in Guadalajara and I’m here in Mexico City, so when we film I bring him out here. Luis is an outstanding entertainer who has graced the screens out here in Mexico for 30+ years. He’s a great comedian. A great comedian actor.
|Luis De Alba in "Los Verduleros".
AH: And the others you aren’t really working with these days, correct?
AMS: I do still work with Maribel Fernandez “La Pelangocha” and Alfonso Zayas has worked with us not long ago as well. Now a days, I try to make the comedies like the old ones but with new actors and some of the ones from way back when. We are putting a lot of work in these new comedies.
|screenshot of "El Vecindario 3". The old actors mixed with the new actors.
AH: You have been uncredited in being a co-writer of "Satanico Pandemonium". Why is that? What Happened? only the producer Jorge Barragan and your father have been credited in making the movie and sadly not you.
AMS: It’s a long story. That movie was created with a small synopsis by a man named Jorge Barragan. He was our friend & he was frequently in the studios making those military films with the Marines & Air Force. Barragan pitched us the idea of the movie and had asked us what we thought about it and we liked it, it was a good story. Barragan then asked us to write the screenplay, but my father had other things to do, so I told him I’ll write it. So I began to write it then finished it and it came out great. I was good friends with Enrique Rocha in those times and I said “The Devil will be played perfectly by Enrique, so let’s cast Enrique Rocha”. Then we got the rest of the cast & everything else was set; but right before we were to start filming, Barragan and my father began to fight because Barragan was a difficult & complicated man. As kind as he was; he was making bad deals and running out of money often.
After my father and Barrgan had their fight, I still kept in touch with him. From there, Alberto Bojorquez was then set to direct the movie, but he too fought with Barragan. So with Barragan still having the finances from the Banco Nacional Cinematografico, he then mentioned having no director for the movie, I then told him to reconcile with my father. He’s a professional and not spiteful. I asked him: “Dad, would you want to direct Satanico Pandemonium?” “Yes, of course I will” my father said. So they shook hands and the movie began filming. But then Barragan began to bother my father, him being the director and Barragan being just a producer, he would say things like “Gilberto, maybe the nun should come out from here or there, etc”. My dad would try to keep Barragan away and told him “Should you direct the movie or should I direct? You stay and I’ll step away.”, but Barragan did not feel comfortable in directing it himself and said “No, no just stay”. That bothered him a lot.
Barragan was then running out of money fast, so if you’re familiar with the movie, you’ll notice how some scenes drag too long and that was because we were running out of time and had to cut out certain parts from the script (where more things were to happen) and the ending was improvised. The movie was then finished and when the time came to get paid, Barragan did not pay me and he did not pay my father either. We stopped talking to him & we were very bothered by what happened and the movie was going well for him after premiering it. We then went to see Rodolfo Echeverria (director of Banco Nacional Cinematográfico & brother of Mexican President Luis Echeverria), who was friends with my father since he used to be an actor. Echeverria had just got into office. My father said: “This bad deal happened with Barragan” and Rodolfo said “Don’t worry, Gilberto. I’ll give orders to Peliculas Nacionales” which at the time was the institute that would give you your payments from the box office numbers. Our promissory notes were handed over to Rodolfo and When Barragan had come to get his check, they paid him his cut and the rest went to us and that made him so angry that he took my credit off as writer. He couldn’t take off the director’s credit by then. But with time we became friends again and I then bought the rights to the movie and it’s all mine now. That’s the story of Satanico.
|The new opening credits sequence of Satanico Pandemonium which adds Adolfo as writer of the movie.
AH: From the beginning of the 80’s to the early 90’s, you and your father had made some of the most well-known & popular sexy comedies in Mexico from the production company you had both built: “Frontera Films”. What began this decade long series of sex comedies? What drove you all to make these movies?
AMS: That started when I was in college and I got to know the engineer Santos Soberon who’s very important in the Martinez Solares saga because he changed my life and my father’s. He became a friend of mine and he was my professor as well, and he loved the cinema and 2 or 3 times I brought him to sets and I introduced him to my father. He then introduced me to his sons. His youngest son Alejandro Soberon was an important part of the company and we worked since 1978 till about 10 years ago when he retired from filmmaking and dedicated to live entertainment. He’s a very important person in the Mexican Entertainment Industry. We are brothers to this day still. We aren’t friends, we are brothers.
We founded Frontera Films when Santos Soberon said “I have some money I want to invest, Adolfo. Your father has made many producers a lot of money and I love the movies and my son would want to be part of this as well since he’s intruiged by all this. Let’s build a production company together.” We then made the production company and our first movie was "Pasion En El Peligro" starring Jorge Rivero and our 2nd movie was "Rosita Alvirez" and the 3rd was a comedy called "El Vecindario". We then said “We’re gonna have to make these comedies with a different tone. Kissing scenes aren’t gonna cut it anymore and we have to make love-making scenes more explicit”. We then started to film scenes with nudity and the movies were more sexual, but they always had to have a story that would justify the sex scenes. It wasn’t just to have the actress get nude and the comedian tell the jokes. In that time European cinema was very important and they were very open with having nudity scenes. In French movies like "Betty Blue", that movie had a lot of full-frontal nudity with the main actress and the main actor as well. It was a cinema that was more open and we watched a lot of European cinema and decided to make movies like this and I think it was a good decision. Now a days everything is more explicit.
|Cast & Crew of El Ratero De La Vecindad 2. The Soberon's on the top left corner, next to them is Adolfo & next to him is El Caballo and his father Gilberto.
AH: I notice some of these movies are remakes of the older comedies your father made. Like for example: El Ratero De La Vecindad is a remake of El Rey Del Barrio.
AMS: We made “El Vecindario” with explicit material & nudity. The censorship board at the time saw that we made a movie like this and said that we weren’t gonna be allowed to make another movie like this. We already had everything & everyone put together for our next movie, so we decided to make a remake of El Rey Del Barrio without the explicit materials, nudity & bad language. We filmed it and it turned out to be great for us.
|back cover scan of the El Vecindario VHS.
|personal scans of my VHS copies of Ratero De La Vecindad & El Rey Del Barrio.
AH: It’s very identical to the original.
AMS: It is very identical. Since my father owned the movie and still had the original screenplay, he had every right to remake it. And we made several of those remakes; one called "La Negra Tomasa" which is a remake of "El Sultan Descalzo".
|Sultan Descalzo poster art found on ebay/personal scan of my VHS copy of La Negra Tomasa.
AMS: I have a story to tell you about that one. My father was into astronomy and I remember when I was a little kid we’d got to Cuernavaca and at nights he would take us where there were no lights visible from the cities and outside the car he would show us the night sky and tell us all about the stars up there. He knew all about the sky from left to right.
A story came to him about a man who mistakenly received a telescope and he’d watched the sky, but he much preferred to view the neighbor lady across from him. So that became the plot of his movie. One day my father went to the studios and a producer named Jesus Grovas asked him: “do you have a script for me Don Gilberto? Because I need to make a movie.” “I do have something. It’s a great story and I just finished it” my father said. He left Grovas the script and said he would read it and call him back, but he never did. 2-3 years later they met again at the studios and Grovas said to him “Don Gilberto I want to make a movie.” My father tells him: “I have nothing right now to give you. And the one I pitched to you, you didn’t call me back about. And it’s a movie that can’t be made now since it’s something similar that Hitchcock had just made called Rear Window.” “Let’s make it!” Grovas said and my father says: “No, no. They’ll accuse me of copying that movie.” “No Gilberto, don’t worry about that.” Grovas assured him. With the heavy desire to work, my father then made the movie after all.
That’s the real story. It was just a coincidence. My father thought of that story himself and the producer wanting to profit off Hitchcock’s movie.
|Clavillazo in Chismoso De La Ventana.
AH: Lina Santos was a very popular actress in those comedies made by Frontera Films. She’s often remembered because of those movies. How was working with her like? How did she get involved with Frontera Films?
AMS: Me and Lina Santos were invited by a producer friend of ours Rafael Rosales to a beauty pageant as judges. Lina was next to me at the pageant and I laughed & told her “you ought to be up there Lina and you’d win since you are very beautiful and these girls up there don’t have the same looks & charm that you have.” We’d then gotten to know each other and she was Miss Cohuila by then and she came to work with us. We at Frontera Films treated her like family and my father was always sweet to her. We made a lot of movies with her and she was always very professional. She never did full nudity scenes nor partial. Instead, we’d have the other actresses around her get nude.
|Lina Santos is "Miss Coahuila". Featured in TV Guia. Personal scan.
AH: She was the only one to never get nude.
AMS: She did not want to do nudity. Not at all. She would say “one day I’m gonna get married & have kids, so I wouldn’t feel comfortable to be nude on screen.” So what we did was always dress her in sexy clothing & lingerie. She had a beautiful body after all.
AH: Speaking of Lina, I wanted to talk about one of the other movies she was in that you made called Mujeres Infieles. I saw it recently and I really enjoyed it. It had won an award in Houston correct? Or was it Dallas?
AMS: It won an award in Houston and in Charleston. So It won 2 awards. It’s a very interesting movie for it having 3 different stories and that was something not done in a long time. When I was young I loved the movies starring Sofia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni and I remember one called "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" that had 3 different stories of lust & infidelity. I had thought the topic of infidelity was a universal topic, that it didn’t matter if you were French, Mexican or Italian. Infidelity is always hurtful and there are always consequences from it. So I thought that topic was universal and everyone would find it interesting. We made that movie and then 6 more.
AH: I found the movie very interesting after I saw it a month ago and really liked it. It’s very different from anything else you’ve made prior.
AMS: It’s a different movie for sure that put us forward. When the movies down here in Mexico were changing, we thought we would make a different kind of “Nuevo Cine Mexicano” movie and here was Mujeres Infieles. And we made many like these and then went back to comedies because I felt we lost so much time without making them because those sexy comedies were not like anything else out. El Dia De Los Albañiles is the most successful movie in Mexico. By far. All those comedies we made in that time, 40 years ago, they were very successful and that’s because they were filmed well and they told modern stories about drug traffickers, kidnappers and many other topics that are used today. And they were filled with grains of sensuality/sexuality and that’s why those movies have never faded away.
AH: Another movie I found so different was "Mas Alla Del Deseo". That movie is amazing.
AMS: Beautiful movie, isn’t it? It’s from a dream my father had and he really wanted to make a movie about it. Another movie called “Crimenes De Pasion” is very different and more refined than the comedies. Look for it and watch it.
|Cynthia Westbrook as "Ondina" in Mas Alla De Deseo.
AH: So tell us about "Picardia Nacional". What can people expect to see from your streaming platform?
AMS: In Picardia Nacional you will find many of those movies from that era and many more. There are about 400-500 movies in the catalog. There are all kinds movies on there, but there aren’t any classic black & white movies on there. It is mostly movies from the past 35+ years and they all vary in genre and there are many about narcos, because long ago an associate of mine named Delfino Lopez made many movies about them since he is an expert in narcos. There are 6 movies about "El Señor De Los Cielos" and some about "The Arellano Felix Brothers", known as the “Most Wanted” and there’s also some of “El Mochomo”. Delfino Lopez made all those. Another man that I’m sure you’re familiar with, another associate of ours; Juan Manuel Romero, he lived in Los Angeles for a long time and then moved to Guadalajara. He makes many action movies and narco stuff such as “La Troca Del Moño Negro”. A lot of those are Juan Manuel’s. We (Frontera Films) have dedicated more to making dramas and the sexy comedies.
|Subscribe to Picardia Nacional today! Download the app on your phone or visit the website: https://www.picardianacional.com
AH: And everything that you have written recently has popped up on Picardia Nacional, correct? I saw one on there recently that I liked called “Perdiendo Mi Virginidad”.
AMS: That’s correct. I write all of them and like now I continue to write at home and while I lift weights & get on the elliptical, I’m right by my computer writing still. I also check them out when they’re finished filming. I go through the post-production and making sure the movie is good to me. If anything is wrong, we then find a way to fix it somehow or film something entirely new. If something is too long, then we of course cut it. Once the movie is done and premiering, I’ve already watched it 20 times and I’m sick of it (laughs). But it’s all part of the job.Perdiendo Mi Virginidad (2019) is available to watch exclusively on Picardia Nacional.
AH: Being a filmmaker, what are some movies you really like? What movies have been inspiring to you?
AMS: I love The Godfather movies. The Godfather part 1 & 2 are amazing movies. I also love "Goodfellas" and "Casino". "Taxi Driver" too. I love all of Scorsese’s movies. I really enjoy European movies & American movies, but not superhero movies. Superhero movies to tell you the truth, I find them quite boring. I know they’re very popular, but I still find them dull. There are great movies coming from Germany and France as well.
I began my education in film as a viewer. I’ve watched all kinds of movies and I wasn’t a person who would read, I preferred to watch movies instead. I watched so many movies that when I die and they cut me open for the autopsy, celluloid will come out instead of blood.
|Adolfo & his father Gilberto on set.