A few weeks ago I looked at Armando Bó’s Una viuda descocada, a latsploitation classic from 1980 that features the director’s lifelong lover and muse, Argentinian actress and model Isabel Sarli. The back story on Bó and Sarli was almost as interesting as the breast-centric flesh extravaganza that was the film. In fact, it was enough to pique my interest and keep me reading about the duo’s history. That research lead me to La mujer de mi padre, a film from 1968 in which Bó displayed his trademark passion for Sarli’s cleavage and raunchy humor but added a dramatic/romantic element. Despite the exploitation/drama mix, what made me decide to watch this was something else, something that made the Bó/Sarli duo even weirder: the actor that plays the second man in the love triangle was Bó’s son in real life. I guess they really liked to keep it in the family.
LA MUJER DE MI PADRE
Argentina, 1968, Armando Bó
In La mujer de mi padre, Sarli plays Siboney, a prostitute and exotic dancer who works at the local brothel of small rural town near the Iguazú Falls. She entertains clients six days a week, but her Sundays are spent with José, a farmer who’s madly in love with her. The couple often escapes to beautiful places near the water where they create their own paradise. However, their bliss is shattered when Mario, José’s son, shows up looking for work and becomes infatuated with Siboney. To make matters more complicated, Mario is fully aware of Siboney’s profession. What follows is a classic narrative of of a love triangle gone very wrong. In the end, Siboney will have to choose between father and son, knowing that the lucky one will get her along with the privilege of staying in town and getting the land that belongs to José.
Technically speaking, the movie is a mixed bag. The sound is mediocre and some portions have absolutely horrendous editing. However, the photography, which makes the most out of the natural beauty of the Iguazú Falls, is really good. Also, Armando Bó and Isabel Sarli deliver solid performances considering they were both far from being the best actors of their time. However, when it comes to Víctor Bó (the son in real life and in the film), the acting goes out the window. The younger Bó has the dramatic skills of a rusty fence post. Luckily, it seems that his father, who not only stared but also wrote and directed the film, was fully aware of his shortcomings. As a result, the younger Bó, who is a good-looking fellow with green eyes and a chiseled torso, spends about 90% of his time on screen drenched in sweat, quite, and shirtless. This gives females some eye-candy, which is not something often found in latsploitation.
Bó had a unique way of celebrating his muse and, despite the fact that he wasn’t physically behind the camera most of the time, his vision is vividly present in La mujer de mi padre. The writing is full of clichés and some of the acting is funny for all the wrong reasons, but there is enough good photography and weirdness to make this worth a watch. For example, Siboney drives José crazy by insulting his manhood and telling him she’ll leave him any day to find a better man. When he hits her, she confesses her happiness: it was all a test and he passed with flying colors because she knows he attacked her out of love (how about that, ladies?). Also, there are two ridiculously long bathing scenes. These frolicking, twirling, splashing water-and-boobs montages, which usually start off well and eventually become something akin to a mermaid suffering from an epileptic seizure, are an absolute sine qua non of Bó’s work, and just another reason to watch this.