Juan Orol

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Juan Orol
Born Juan Rogelio García García
(1897-08-04)August 4, 1897
Lalín, Pontevedra, Spain
Died May 26, 1988(1988-05-26) (aged 90)
Mexico City, Mexico
Years active 1927–1981
Spouse(s) Amparo Moreno (1934-1937)
María Antonieta Pons (1940-1945)
Rosa Carmina (1950-1955)
Mary Esquivel (1955-1963)
Dinorah Judith (1964-1988)

Juan Rogelio García García, better known as Juan Orol (August 4, 1897 in Lalín, Pontevedra, Spain – May 26, 1988 in Mexico City, Mexico) was a Mexican-Spanish actor, producer, screenwriter and film director. He was known as The King of the Mexican Film noir. He was also known as The Involuntary Surrealist. Pioneer of the Mexican cinema first talkies and one of the main promoters of the Rumberas film in the called Golden Age of Mexican cinema. Since family melodramas until gangster and rumberas movies, the Orol's filmic universe is surrealistic and deeply flawed of sense. Because of this, his films have been described as Cult film. That has given to his films an important place in the Mexican Cinema.


Early life[edit]

Juan Rogelio García García was born on August 4, 1897 in the parish of Santiso, in the town of Lalin in Pontevedra, Spain. It is known that his father was a commander of the Spanish armed forces. His mother, a woman of peasant origin, was a single mother. Her subsequent marriage to a man who did not want to carry with a son of other, took her to send Orol with a rooted friendships in Cuba.[1]

In Cuba, Orol lived in the called "solares" as known in in Cuba to the low neighborhoods. There, he had a lot of contact with people of african origin, who taught him all his dance techniques.[2] Orol early exercised in multiple simultaneous trades: boxer, mechanic, racing driver, journalist, actor, bullfighter and police officer. He abandoned the boxing when his face was disfigured. In his racer role, was about to run in Indianapolis, but he lacked a few tenths to the mark of 118 miles per hour. In his role as a bullfighter, passed through South America, under the name of Espartero or Esparterito. Later, he moved to Mexico, where he was also part of the secret police. His biography is absolutely bizarre, full of impossible and unconnected episodes. But despite his poor cultural training, he survived. His steps in the bullfight arena and the police order were a great inspiration for subsequent film work. His premature widowhood put on face with a parental responsibility. He start working on the radio as artistic director and publicist while he contacting with the nascent Mexican film industry.[3]


Unintentionally, Juan Orol enters into the Mexican film industry. Initially Orol is involved in film as another way to survive. Eventually he develops a passion for the world of cinema. Orol debuted in the Cinema of Mexico as supporting actor of the newly created Aspa Films under the direction of Ramón Peon, also known as the Cuban Griffith in the film Sagrario (1933). The following year, thanks to the film's succes, Orol risks his own capital and premieres simultaneously as producer, writer and star in the film Mujeres sin alma, also directed by Peon. He debuts as director in the film Madre querida (1935), the third production of Aspa Films. Orol, was a devotee of American Film noir, and had a great admiration for the famous film gangsters of the 1930's and 1940's: Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. However, Orol itself recognized as the most influential film filmmaker in his career in José Bohr, one of the pioneers of talkies in Mexico.[4]

After his first film modest earnings, he filmed a second film in 1934, which serves as co-director with Ramon Peon: Mujeres sin alma, ¿venganza suprema?, which was an unexpected success and which appeared his first filmic muse: Consuelo Moreno. The Orol films developed a signature style, with the recurring themes of the tropics, the rumberas, exotic landscapes, beautiful and provocative women and the cabaret as an ideal location. This hooks allowed Orol to attract an audience to his films. He later introduced gangsters to his repertoire. On many occasions, to outwit the film unions of Mexico, he invented co-productions with other countries, primarily with Cuba.

In the mid-forties, he consolidates his own production house, España Sono Films. Likewise, he created in Cuba Caribe Films production company, helping him to make his co-productions with the island. Orol came to film in different countries: Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, United States. and Spain. Juan Orol had also a "one man band" performance in movies. In most of them, he participated in more than two or three of the main activities of the film: production manager, director, producer, screenwriter and actor.

The first orol production in the Cuban cinema was Siboney (1938) film, which features music by Ernesto Lecuona. Orol acts as director, producer, screenwriter and actor. In this film debuted the Cuban rumbera María Antonieta Pons, his second filmic muse.

With María Antonieta Pons, Orol made films like Cruel destino (1944), Los misterios del hampa (1945), Embrujo antillano (1946) and Pasiones tormentosas (1947). Although Marìa Antonieta Pons and other of his subsequent filmic muses were exclusive stars of España Sono Films, Orol allowed them to work with other production houses. María Antonieta Pons is the first major rumbera of the Mexican Cinema. By this, Orol was considers one of the main promoters called Rumberas film of the forties and fifties. After his break with Pons, Orol made the film El amor de mi bohío (1946), starring the Costa Rican actress Yadira Jimenez in the lead role. However, Jimenez failed to develop a relevant film relationship with Orol. In search of a new female star of his films, Orol moved to Cuba, where he discovers what will be his next filmic muse: Rosa Carmina.

Rosa Carmina debuts by the hand of Orol in the film Una mujer de Oriente (1946). Rosa Carmina become into the most representative and prolific filmic muse of Orol. Both filmed together sixteen films between 1946 and 1955. Probably the most notable are the classic Gangsters contra charros (considered today as a Cult film) and Sandra, la mujer de fuego. Other relevant films of Orol with Rosa Carmina are Tania, la bella salvaje (1947), Amor salvaje (1949) the trilogy Percal (1951)(based on a comic book by José G. Cruz); La diosa de Tahití (1953) and Secretaria peligrosa (1955).

After separating from Rosa Carmina, Orol filmed La mesera coja del café del puerto, a Cuban-Mexican production, as director, producer and screenwriter, with Marta Rams and Julio Capote as main actors. In the same year, Orol introduced to his next filmic muse: Mary Esquivel. Esquivel debuts in the film Zonga, el ángel diabólico (1956), a film that also mean the first movie of Orol filmed in color. His last major production involving Esquivel was Tahimí, la hija del pescador (1958).

Eventually, Orol knows his last filmic muse, Dinorah Judith, with which he conducts his last films as director. At this time, the films of Orol were destroyed by the critics, and reputedly, the director went through a deep depression. His recent films include La maldición de mi raza (1964), Antesala de la silla elèctrica (1966) and the cult classic El fantástico mundo de los hippies (1970), made with American co-production. His last film as director was El tren de la muerte (1978). The last appearance of Juan Orol on the big screen was as an actor in the film Ni modo...así somos (1981). He realized a cameo of himself, in a brief scene in under a minute.

In his later years Orol lived in a deep depression. Despite various film tributes in his honor, the legendary director lived in a deep poverty. His depression was rooted in assuming that his film collection had succumbed to the fire at the National Film Archives of Mexico (Cineteca Nacional) in 1982. In fact in that incident, only some original negatives of his early films were lost.

He died of liver disease in Mexico City on May 26, 1988, in the ruin of loneliness.

Personal life[edit]

Juan Orol was famous for introducing numerous foreign actresses (mostly Cuban) to the Mexican Cinema. His first wife was Amparo Moreno, sister of the actress Consuelo Moreno, his first filmic muse. With her, he fathered his only child, Arnoldo Orol Moreno, who between the late 1940s and early 1950s, served as executive produced of three of the Orol films. Arnoldo died in a workplace accident on a film set. Amparo died by tuberculosis in 1937.[5]

In 1938, he met in Cuba to the rumbera María Antonieta Pons. Orol and Pons were dancing couple, and he decided to introduce her as an actress in Mexico in the film Siboney (1938). Orol and Pons were married between 1940 and 1945.[6] After divorcing of Pons, Orol decided to launch to the Costa Rican actress and dancer Yadira Jimenez. However, their collaboration was fleeting. In Cuba Orol discovered Rosa Carmina, his next filmic muse. Orol and Rosa Carmina were married between 1950 and 1955. Rosa Carmina is considered the most representative of his filmic muses. Later, Orol married with the also Cuban actress Mary Esquivel. They were married between 1955 and 1963.[7] After Rosa Carmina, a friend introduced him to his niece, Dinorah Judith. Judith will be his last muse and his latest wife, remaining attached to it until his death.[8]


Juan Orol acted a "one man band" performing in movies. In most of them, he participated in more than two or three of the main activities of the film: production manager, director, producer, writer or actor. He was a man who felt he should participate in everything and supervise that everything in his films to come out well. Despite this, he was not a sophisticated technical, as was undoubtedly his friend Ramon Peon. Quite the contrary; did things rather by his drive and his passion for the films without taken much time into his studio. Neither tried to explain the psychology of his characters and the geography of the locations that he used. For him it was enough that there scenes and characters. However, his films proved a success, then managed to reach the public taste. Not surprisingly, Orol boasted of being The director of the crowds.[9]

It has been compared Juan Orol with American filmmaker Ed Wood, canonized as "the worst director of all time". However, unlike the American filmmaker, Orol not need a posthumous tribute to be recognized. He earned box office success of his time, the public admired his filmic muses and his evil gangsters, no matter the plot and technical poverty of his productions, ignoring criticism that vilified his work, as he did with Te odio y te quiero (1957), a film that criticism called directly as "very bad". Even had the luxury of doing a remake of his own work: Madre querida, his biggest hit, has a new version in 1950. Ed Wood, meanwhile, will never hit the mainstream, his works were a succession of failures exhibited scarcely second circuits, and production volume reaches a fifth of that of Orol. But both share the precariousness of their mode of production, blind faith in his film scarecrows, and his followers today are considered "cult directors".

For Orol, the verisimilitude so did not care. Not so the budget production, which was stretched to the maximum, which was known as a director of one shot. Thus, the special effects are completely unknown in his work. In Gangsters contra charros virtually died all the armed men, but none shed a drop of blood. The economy could reach such details as narrated by the film director Sergio Véjar, camera operator of Zonga, el ángel diabólico (1957), in which Orol ordered Mary Esquivel that she could paint each nail a different color to extend her hands to the camera, thus reducing production costs. Likewise, he did not go in search of exotic locations, but his plots so required in most cases. In Los misterios del hampa(1944), whose screenplay set in Chicago, passed a bus which reads "Cozumel Peralvillo-Line", typical line of trucks of Mexico City. And in Zonga..., that develops in the Amazon rainforest can be distinguished in the background a monument to Bolivar who was close to the Bosque de Chapultepec in Mexico City. "Details" to Juan Orol not give importance.[10]

Juan Orol is also regarded as the spiritual father of the called Rumberas film for having the laid the foundations that enriched the film genre.[11] Also is known for having imported to the Mexican Cinema to two of the biggest stars of the genre: María Antonieta Pons and Rosa Carmina.

In 2012, Juan Orol is the subject of a tribute in the biopic El fantástico mundo de Juan Orol, directed by Sebastian del Amo. Orol is played by the Mexican actor Roberto Sosa. The film is based on real events, but freely interpreted by the authors.[12]

Filmography (Selected)[edit]

As Director[edit]

  • Madre Querida (1935)
  • ¿Mujeres sin Alma:Venganza Suprema? (1935)
  • Honraras a tus padres (1936)
  • Siboney (1938)
  • Cruel destino (1944)
  • Los misterios del hampa (1945)
  • Embrujo antillano (1945)
  • Pasiones tormentosas (1946)
  • El amor de mi bohío (1946)
  • Una Mujer de Oriente (1946)
  • Tania, la Bella Salvaje (1947)
  • El Reino de los Gángsters (1947)
  • Gángsters contra charros (1947)
  • El charro del arrabal (1948)
  • Amor salvaje (1949)
  • Cabaret Shanghai (1949)
  • El infierno de los pobres (1951)
  • Hombres sin alma (1951)
  • Perdición de mujeres (1952)
  • ¡Que idiotas son los hombres! (1952)
  • La diosa de Tahití (Los chacales de la Isla Verde) (1952)
  • Sandra, la mujer de fuego (1953)
  • El Sindicato del Crímen (1954)
  • Bajo la influencia del miedo (Gangsterismo en el deporte) (1955)
  • Secretaria peligrosa (Agente internacional) (1955)
  • La mesera coja del café del puerto (1957)
  • Te odio y te quiero (1957)
  • Zonga, el Ángel Diabólico (1957)
  • La tórtola del Ajusco (1960)
  • Tahimi, la hija del pescador (1961)
  • Bajo el manto de la noche (1962)
  • La maldición de mi raza (1962)
  • Antesala de la silla eléctrica (1967)
  • El Fantástico mundo de los Hippies (1968)
  • Historia de un Gángster (1968)
  • El tren de la muerte (1979)

As Actor[edit]

  • Sagrario (1934)
  • Siboney (1938)
  • Una Mujer de oriente (1946)
  • El Reino de lod Gángsters (1947)
  • Gangsters contra charros (1947)
  • El Sindicato del Crímen (1954)
  • Bajo la influencia del miedo (1955)
  • Plazos traicioneros (1958)
  • Historia de un Gángster (1968)
  • México de Noche (1974)
  • Adriana del Río, actriz (1979)
  • Ni modo, Así somos (1981)

See also[edit]



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