Latsploitation is a multi-headed beast, and sometimes one of those heads uncannily resembles a distant cousin. For me, Italian exploitation icon Tinto Brass’ Cheeky is the perfect derriere-centric film, and Argentinian Armando Bó’s Una viuda descocada (A brazen widow) is its breast-centric Latin American counterpart.
Una viuda descocada
Argentina, 1980, Armando Bó
The dialogue is nothing to write home about, the sound is poor and the acting is as over-the-top as most of the Argentinian comedies of the late 70s and early 80s. However, Una viuda descocada is gem for two reasons: Isabel Sarli’s breasts. Before you start calling my names and accusing me of supporting the blatant objectification of women in film, read what follows. This film was written and directed by Armando Bó, an actor, director, producer, score composer and screenwriter who was known for his erotic productions in the 60s and 70s. More importantly, Bó was also responsible for the first nude scene in an Argentine film, which occurred in 1956 in his film El trueno entre las hojas (The thunder between the leaves). Bó met Sarli in 1955, right after she became Miss Argentina. From then on, they were lovers and she became the muse for most of his films. As a result, Sarli became an international sex symbol for almost four decades and in October 12, 2012, Argentine President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, named her as Argentine Ambassador of Popular Culture.
All of the above should give you an idea of why Bó focused on Sarli’s breasts during the entire movie. However, it doesn’t tell you why it makes this film a Latsploitation gem. Besides the historical and cultural resonance, Una viuda descocada is great because, even if the intended comedy is not really funny, the omnipresence of Sarli’s chest becomes a joke in itself. There are plenty of breasts in every single shot and even when the men receive the close-up treatment, all of Sarli’s shot are medium shots in order to ensure her generous cleavage is visible. Since that was obviously not enough, the are also three random pool scenes in which she dances and jumps around for a few minutes, a few topless scenes and a vast array of dresses that are barely able to contain the actress’ voluptuous assets. During the first third of the film, you simply expect Sarli to pop out of her dress, but then things get truly interesting. Think of ways you would ensure the presence of mammary glands in every practically every shot for 97 minutes. It’s no easy task, right? Well, Bó pulls it off with flying colors and the result is a film that can easily be considered one of the meatiest homages to boobs in Latsploitation.
It would be easy to dismiss Una viuda descocada as just another example of the male gaze in action, objectification of women in film or a titillating celebration of male desire, but that would be wrong. While Bó certainly did all of the above, he also made Flor Tetis the strong character in the film, the one that manipulates the action: the killer. While Sarli’s chest is the focal point of the movie, the director also puts the narrative emphasis on it, which basically gives those breasts, and most of all Sarli’s carefully-constructed cleavage, something akin to a cinematic gravitational pull. Yeah, you need to watch this one.