Mexican cinema is full of little treasures. Mexploitation is great and a lot of people are aware of it, but the genre has an offspring that fewer people know about and that many wish to keep that way. Cine de ficheras, also known as sexicomedias, is a genre that sprouted in Mexico around 1976 and ended in 1982, although its echoes carry into the 1990s. When Mexican president José López Portillo named his sister Margarita López Portillo as director of Radio, Televisión y Cinematografía (RTC, the government office in charge of radio, television and film), the blossoming national movie industry came tumbling down. While the government had been helping local productions for a few years, López Portillo had other ideas in mind and the money for making films went into the hands of foreign directors. The bleak financial landscape and new, more lax censorship laws came together and what emerged from that was a new genre that wanted to test the boundaries of language and sex. Named after the ficheras, women whose job it was to dance and flirt with men in clubs so they would consume more, these movies shared a few “negative” elements that turned them into Mexico’s shame for many years: very little budget, lots of nudity, the same group of actors, no production values to speak of and raunchy, juvenile comedy.


Mexico, 1975, Miguel Delgado

Bellas de Noche (Beauties at Night) is one of a handful of films that are considered the originators of the cine de ficheras. In the movie, Bronco is a boxer who received a beating in his last fight and is told by his doctor to stay out of the ring. He finds a job as a bouncer in a club, El Pirulí, and quickly falls in love with Carmen, one of the girls working the floor. Meanwhile, the club’s owner is busy trying to find a way to pay off his gambling debts, which came from Bronco’s loss, and spends the rest of his time sleeping with a few of his employees every day. Sadly, that’s about it.

The humor is no big deal, the acting is mediocre and the only real action comes when Bronco’s sister comes to visit and a man almost has sex with her, which makes her brother beat the guy to death. However, the film is interesting to watch if you keep in mind that the director was more or less measuring exactly how much he could get away with. The sex scenes always cut away at the right moment, but there is a lot of nudity that, in some cases, is entirely unnecessary (which, in my opinion, makes it even better!). There are also some instances in which slapstick comedy is thrown into mix. In these scenes, the falls and bumps are really funny, but for all the wrong reasons.

If you look around online, you’ll find very diverse opinions on cine de ficheras and movies like Bellas de Noche. For some, these films are the absolute worst of what Mexican cinematography has to offer. For others, these movies are gems from a past in which Mexican cinema was trying to make movies with no budget while simultaneously testing their newfound freedom by seeing how many bad jokes and breasts they could cram into a movie. While the discussion rages on, one thing remains clear: these “sexicomedias” greatly influenced Mexploitation for decades and, just for that, they deserve to be recognized.