When you watch movies, you immediately escape reality and transport into another world & transporting to a different time as well. When you watch Bellas De Noche: Las Ficheras, you are immediately transported to a Mexican cabaret called “El Piruli” circa 1975. El Piruli is a place where you’ll drink lots of booze & dance with a gorgeous woman who will give you all the loving you so longingly crave. At a cost of course.
At El Piruli, anything goes it seems. There are many people there enjoying themselves drinking & dancing away to music by La Sonora Santanera. The men who are always at El Piruli are there mainly for the lovely ficheras working there. They dance with them and make love to them afterwards. When popular boxer German “Bronco” Torres (Jorge Rivero) is told he cannot fight anymore because it’ll either blind him or cripple him; he worries of how he will earn a living & support his teenage sister Lupita (Leticia Perdigón in one of her first feature-length roles). He then takes up a job as a waiter at El Piruli where he immediately falls for Carmen (Sasha Montenegro); a popular fichera who also takes a liking to German, but she tells him she’s just a working girl & nothing more. As this story of love & lust goes on, we also see the lives of the other ficheras and the goofy cliental.
Bellas De Noche has been said to be the first ever movie of the Cine De Ficheras genre. This particular genre mixes the old rumbera drama/comedy genre from the 40’s-50’s and dashes in nudity & sex to bring the movie more to life. This was the movie to start it all and afterwards, many filmmakers wanted to emulate Bellas De Noche and some just wanted to make their own kind of sex comedy films, but clearly were inspired by Bellas De Noche after its much success. Point being, tits & ass sells a lot and these movies made the big bucks cause of the T&A. Actor/writer Víctor Manuel “El Guero” Castro along with writer Francisco Cavazos, producer Guillermo Calderon Stell & director Miguel M. Delgado started something big here. We owe them for conceiving this genre that brought so much entertainment from way back then to now.
In the 2009 documentary “Perdida”, Bellas De Noche producer Guillermo Calderon Stell talks of how he wanted to make a movie that people were going to have a lot of fun with & perhaps it was to cause a little controversy since he wanted the movie to have full on nudity & sex. He ended up getting government funding for Bellas De Noche provided by the director of the Banco Nacional Cinematográfico: Rodolfo Echeverría and this of course is rather unusual & even ironic because this was around the time that Rodolfo’s brother Luis Echeverría (the Mexican president at the time) only wanted his government to make & fund movies that were to be seen as prestigious & educational of the Mexican culture. Bellas De Noche was of course none of that at all, but it was still a very successful & entertaining movie. A Mexican movie made by the Mexican people for the Mexican people.
Bellas De Noche was a movie that the Mexican people really wanted to see & even rioted to get in to since there were crowds pushing to get in the theaters to see this one single movie (and later on its sequel as well). As the government pushed for their preferred movies to be seen & heard; they had gotten support from the Mexican film "intellectuals" & “experts” and continuously bashed Bellas De Noche & other movies like it by calling them trash & stupid. The Cine De Ficheras genre from then on was looked down upon, but let’s make it clear: it wasn’t everyone in the country looking down at these movies. It was just these so called intellectuals & experts and the goons that followed their every word. Did the rest of the Mexican people have to listen to them? Not at all, but somehow they just convinced enough people in their film world to say these movies are no good. But Bellas de Noche is not a bad movie at all nor not all of its copycats that came after.
Bellas De Noche is a movie with laughs here & there. You’ll chuckle and be glued to the screen by all the beautiful women in the movie. Sasha Montenegro is the most eye-capturing since her eyes are beautiful and her smile is to die for. Even the way she just smokes a cigarette is appealing. Next to Sasha, Diana Torres and Mabel Luna are also captivating. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about Mabel Luna and her obvious blonde wig really captures my attention. Lalo El Mimo as the small-time hustler “El Vaselinas”, mainly provides the laughs of the movie and it’s almost like he’s not even trying to either. His presence alone is humorous & quirky. Carmen Salinas also provides some laughs with her drunken fichera character “La Corcholata”. As funny as she is, she is also a tragic character as well. Jorge Rivero provides the beef cake in the movie with his muscular-self and machismo attitude. He’s quite the looker for the ladies and it’s fairly obvious too.
Next to its eye-catching & intriguing cast; the music in the movie provided by La Sonora Santanera makes the movie more enjoyable & really sets the tone. Their music were the hearts & souls of these kinds of cabarets. The music is catchy & so fun to dance to. The movie opens with their song “Mi Razón” and immediately it makes you wanna stand up and dance. In "Perdida", Guillermo Calderon said that people in the audience would just start dancing every time La Sonora Santanera music started to play in the movie. And I don’t blame them for doing so either. The best part of the movie is when they perform “Luces De Nueva York”, a super-catchy song about falling in love with a fichera (or Cabaretera) in a cabaret in New York. The song plays when German begins his waiter job and looks across Carmen staring back at him while she dances with a client. The attraction between them is so obvious, but perhaps they cannot be together for she is a devoted fichera and he’s just there to make ends meet. Maybe, just maybe these 2 will be together. That scene is amazing for sure though. The music & the attraction between the 2 characters is almost magical. Dramatic of me to say, but it’s how I feel (haha!).
Bellas De Noche is the defining movie of the Ficheras genre. It is a fun movie with beautiful women and cheap but good laughs. An overall good time. Just like being at El Piruli for a night out. A must see & do.
Watch Viviana Garcia Besne's documentary "Perdida" on Vimeo! https://vimeo.com/196586635