Spanish title: Pecados conyugales
Director: José María Forqué
An Orfeo-Incine production
Story and screenplay: Juan José Alonso Millán (book), José María Forqué
Music: Adolfo Waitzman
Cinematographer: Francisco Sempere
Cast: Analía Gadé (Sofía), Julia Martínez (Encarna), Esperanza Roy (Amparo), Arturo Fernández (Ricardo), José Luis López Vázquez (Emilio), Juanjo Menéndez (Vicente), Tomás Zori (Gregorio), Manolo Codeso (Manolo), Manolo Gómez Bur (Eulogio), Rafael Alonso (Don Emiliano), Mercedes Barranco (Doña Claudia), Joaquín Roa (Don Félix), Josele Román (Florita), Adriano Domínguez, Mabel Escaño (Asunción), Elisa Méndez, Paloma Cela (Amiga de Sofía), Vicente Carrascosa, Maria Jose Ulla, Gloria Osuna (Juanita), Guillermo Marín, Mari Paz Molinero, Adrián Ortega, Nieves Salcedo, Héctor Sánchez, Olga Omar (Maestra de ceremonias), Miguel Armario, Antonio Ramis, Ángela Escribano
The first story, ‘La Duda’ concentrates upon Emilio (JL Lopez Vazquez), a wealthy man who is being cuckolded by his awful wife, Sofia (Analia Gade). Driven to his wits end by her antagonistic behavior, he is left with only one option: to kill her. In order to accomplish this, he enlists the help of Riccardo (Arturo Fernandez), a somewhat effeminate (and somewhat weedy) muscleman. Riccardo also happens to be the person with whom Sofia has been having an affair, but he doesn’t seem overly fond of her either. Needless to say, their assassination attempts prove to be spectacularly unsuccessful.
‘L’ambicion’, which is particularly deranged, features Esperanzo Roy as one of a group of women who wile away their time drinking tea and playing cards. Jealous of her companions’ ostentatious wealth, she persuades her husband (Juanjo Menendez) to take part in an elaborate scheme: inspired by contemporary protesters in China, he pretends to burn himself to death in the local town square. Quite how this is supposed to make any money is completely beyond me, but it inevitably goes very wrong indeed.
‘Los Celos’ features two dustmen Manolo (Manolo Codesco) and Julio (M Gomez Bur), both of whom are fed up with the general dirt, smell and lack of respect involved in their work. Sr. Bur is particularly irked because he believes his wife, a nurse (Julita Martinez), is having an affair with one of her patients. He is mistaken: the patient – a horrible old lecher in a wheelchair – is actually taking dirty pictures of her, but this doesn’t stop him from angrily shooting the guy with a double-barreled shotgun. As Julio faces a murder trial, it becomes apparent that it is Manolo that his wife had been sleeping with.
Pecados Conyugales is an entirely frivolous concoction, which plays very like the comic anthologies that were to become so popular in Italy the following decade. They, however, would feature far more sex alongside the comedy: this is truly an innocent affair, and the women involved are figures more of fear than of lust. The three stories all show hen-pecked, imbecilic men being dominated by their avaricious, shallow and lustful wives; a theme that was not uncommon in Spain (and throughout Europe) at the time. Whether this was a response to the growing emancipation of women – in the same way that Spanish thrillers regularly reflected the tension between the rural and urban population – is debatable.
Moderately entertaining if unspectacular, Pecados Conyugales is less memorable than some of José María Forqué’s other, more idiosyncratic work. That’s not to say that it’s dull. It features all of the director’s signature extravagances: vivid color, astonishing production designs, cool music, and a sure comic touch. All of which adds further credence to the argument that he was a Spanish equivalent to Richard Lester. The story came from the pen of prolific playwright / scriptwriter Juan José Alonso Millán, who also worked on a couple of José Antonio Nieves Conde thrillers (Marta and The Great Swindle) as well as another Forqué comedy from around the same time, La vil seducción (68).
The first tale is unquestionably the most effective piece, not least because it’s by far the longest. More ‘pop-art’ than the other two stories – a studio-based chamber piece set in an apartment that would give Diabolik a run for his money – it also features a memorable cast. Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez, who appeared in a huge amount of films at the time, is particularly effective: there’s a great moment when, frustrated after several unsuccessful murder attempts, he emerges from a garage equipped with a sterling range of deadly weapons, including a gigantic scythe. Analía Gadé, who also appeared in Murder Mansion (72) and Exorcism’s Daughter (72) is also very good as the horrid Sofia, and gets to wear some truly outrageous costumes (not least a number of DVDs in lieu of jewelry).
Review by Matt Blake, 2012
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