Mexico’s Last Comedia Ranchera: Dos Tipos de Cuidado

Para la versión en español, clickea aquí

Synopsis

Dos Tipos de Cuidado (1953) follows two best friends Pedro Malo and Jorge Bueno. When Pedro steals his girlfriend and marries her, the two turn to enemies. Soon they realize they are better off as friends and devise a plan to get their old girlfriends back.

The Revolution Moves to the Right

Lazaro Cardenas

In the 1930s, Mexico seemed like it was finally institutionalizing the ideas of the revolution with Lazaro Cardenas at the helm. Cárdenas fought briefly in the army of Pancho Villa but in 1915 joined the Constitutionalists. When he entered the office in 1934 he had a Six Year Plan that included the nationalization of the oil industry and the railroads. Cárdenas expropriated 45 million acres of land and distributed them to the ejidos. The middle class also grew during this time and many more wealthy Mexicans meant that the people were becoming less and less interested in reforms that helped the poorest of the nation. Also, his anticlericalism pushed many people to oppose him. With the political right organized for the first time in more than a decade, they rose to power.

In 1940, Manuel Avila Camacho was elected. Camacho was a devout Catholic. and kept a more cordial relationship with the Church than Cardenas. He also ditched neutrality in World War II in favor of US support. The decade would be marked by US allyship. Under Camacho, the government began restricting the power of the working class. The Law of Social Dissolution stipulated that anyone engaged in activity deemed threatening to society faced jail time. It was meant as a tool against fascism but applied to many more ideologies, with union sympathizers being heavily affected by this. 

President Alemán and President Truman

The following President, Miguel Aleman Valdis would continue Mexico’s movement to the right. Aleman was a lawyer and millionaire from Veracruz who was pro-industrial growth as well as the first president to not have fought in the revolution. He favored the preservation of large haciendas rather than the revolutionary goal of land distribution and was more interested in ousting communists. Though, public works programs also became a cornerstone of his economic plan. During his term, Mexico City’s international airport was built and the government began construction on a new campus for the National University in Mexico City, but not all these initiatives were equal in scope. His green revolution looked to assist the agricultural sector but only large commercial farms. Small farms fell by the wayside. He gained opposition in the form of Vicente Lombardo Toledano, the intellectual leader of Mexico’s labor movement who established the Union General de Obreros y Campesinos de México (UGOCM). To combat this, Aleman set up his own friends in most union head positions to keep them compliant. The next president would be different. Adolfo Ruiz Cortines had numerous problems when he started his term, namely the reputation of president Aleman and the image of the PRI that had been damaged by corruption accusations. To establish his own reputation, Ruiz Cortines extended the right to vote to women and pushed through a series of laws addressing public corruption and the responsibility of public officials. For now, the era of conservatism was a relic.

Aleman’s Kind of Man

Dos Tipos de Cuidado

Dos Tipos de Cuidado came at a time when comedias rancheras were a dying genre. That’s why the studio used its two biggest stars Jorge Negrete and Pedro Infante to sell the film. Like Aleman and his views, this film exists in an old conservative paradise lost where men were men, women were women, and the rich were glorified. The hero of the film is Jorge Bueno, a rich landowner whose lording over of land and water rights against Pedro is viewed favorably. He is not being greedy but simply getting his dignity back by doing this. Pedro Malo, the slightly poorer man, is viewed with more suspicion than Jorge. As their names clearly suggest, this film deals with a lot of black and white moral issues with a deeply conservative structure, though a new kind of conservatism. When the two men finally team up, a target of their lies and fun is not just the women in their lives but Jorge’s future father-in-law, the General. Influenced by the era of Aleman, Jorge and Pedro are no longer interested in deifying those who fought in the revolution. Their type of hero is the landowning businessman, not the fighter. Because of this change in view, Pedro Malo is also able to rise up like the businessmen Aleman admires in that his sketchy behavior does not change but his environment does. At the beginning of the film, Pedro is seen dancing and drinking in dingy bars and so given the moniker of a womanizer. At the end of the film, these criticisms go away because he no longer does it in bars, he does it at fancy parties. A film past its era, Jorge and Pedro exist as the prototype of how a man in Aleman’s Mexico should be.

Women’s Secondary Roles

Dos Tipos de Cuidado

The women in Jorge and Pedro’s lives are often discarded when they are no longer useful. This is particularly well illustrated after the birth of Pedro’s child. When Pedro remarks that the child is ugly and his wife disagrees, he looks back at her and says “Oh I didn’t know you were there”. Later, Jorge and Pedro further demonstrate their disdain for the women in their lives and play with their minds constantly. In a split-screen performance, the two men attempt to get their old girlfriends back by singing a love song to them outside their bedroom window. Cutting to the women, they cry over their impossible love. They are like putty in these men’s hands. When the men set up the plan for the elopement, the women are still on the fence. They are merely puppets. But with the women’s roles being placed in the background, Pedro and Jorge often take it on. For a film from the 1950s, there are a lot of homosexual undertones. Sometimes it seems more like a movie about Pedro and Jorge’s romantic breakup than about their breakup with their girlfriends. At one point in the film, Jorge laments that his sister knew Pedro was bad before he did. Like a scorned lover, Jorge feels emasculated by Pedro’s betrayal. Their fights are constantly marked by this feeling. Their song battle to “Las Coplas” may end in threats of a duel but it looks a lot more like the scene in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days where Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey sing “You’re so Vain” to each other.

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