Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Machen Movies - El Esqueleto de la Senora Morales [The Skeleton of Mrs.Morales]

Considering Machen's reputation it is surprising he has seldom been adapted for film though his work has influenced a number of filmmakers. There is one notable exception the most successful adaption is of one of Machen's less well known stories, the short dark satire "The Islington Mystery" which was adapted in Mexico as El Esqueleto de la Senora Morales [The Skeleton of Mrs.Morales (1960)]. According to Mexican critics this enjoyable black comedy film with evocative performances from its leading players is one of the ten best films in Mexican film history. The oppressed taxidermist is played by Arturo de Cordova, a very well known actor in Mexico, and Amparo Rivelles appears as his shrewish wife. Directed by Rogelio A. González and with the screenplay adapted by the noted surrealist Luis Alcoriza the film extends the satyric undercurrents of the story by further criticising the legal system and extending it to the puritanical local church. Machen might be better off without some of the bad adaptions that have plagued other writers. His ideas here have created a gem. Interesting to note that one of Machen's admirers is world famous Mexican director Guilermo del Toro, whose film Pan's Labyrinth was inspired somewhat by Machen. Machen has a very high reputation in the Spainish speaking world due partially to the admiration of Borges for Machen. Borges edited two collections of Machen in translation which have been in print in many countries across the world.

The film is quite true to the macabre essence of Machen's story and develops it very well. Machen based the idea of the story on the Crippen murder only Machen regarding Crippen as rather foolish, describing him as "elementary Crippen and his bungling imbecilities", imagined a protagonist who was rather more careful. You can read the Islington Mystery here.

The IDMB database entry for the film is here:

Someone has put El Esqueleto de la Senora Morales up on Youtube. No subtitles but you can get a good sense of it.

[I have not updated this blog in ages. I will try and keep it more up to date in future and add in some details I missed.]

No comments: