Rumberas film

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The Rumberas film (also known as "Faubourg Film") was a sub-genre film of the Golden age of Mexican Cinema (with some movies made also in Cuba and Spain), whose plots were set primarily in cabarets. The principal stars were the actresses and dancers known as "Rumberas".


Probably the Rumberas film take the inspiration in the burlesque houses that flourished in Mexico in the 1920s. Stars like Lupe Vélez (before emigrating to Hollywood), Mimi Derba, Maria Conesa "La Gatita Blanca", Amparo Arozamena and many others, caught the attention of an audience that enjoyed sexy musical routines with the rhythms of the moment. It is considered popularly to Lolita Tellez Wood as the first dancer in dance West Indian rhythms.

In the cinema[edit]

Maria Conesa (called "La gatita blanca"),arrived in Mexico in 1908 and had her debut at sixteen in the Teatro Principal and later in Teatro Colón. In 1917, being 25 she starred her first film "El pobre Valbuena" with Manuel Noriega, totaling 8 films and a TV series during her career. She lived in Mexico until her death in 1978, her memory remains unforgettable.[1]

Lolita Téllez Wood participated in three Mexican films: El Rosal Bendito (Juan Bustillo Oro, 1936), Mujeres de Hoy (Ramón Peon, 1936) and Honrarás a tus padres (1936 ), the latter directed by Juan Orol, considered the "spiritual father" of Rumberas films. However, since the early talkies of Mexican films. other actresses had danced rumba, like Maruja Griffel in ¡Que viva México! (Sergei Eisenstein, 1931), Consuelo Moreno in ¿Mujeres sin Alma: Venganza Suprema? (1934), Rita Montaner in La Noche del Pecádo (1933) and Margarita Mora in Águila o Sol (1937). The Puerto Rican actress Mapy Cortés, was famous for dancing the Conga in numerous films. At that time, Cuba considered the best rumbera to the Mexican Luz Gil.

It's common recognizing María Antonieta Pons as the first rumba film star following her debut in the film Siboney (1938), directed by her husband, Spanish filmmaker Juan Orol, famous for import numerous Cuban stars to the Mexican Cinema. But was the movie Humo en los Ojos (1946), by filmmaker Alberto Gout, the film that began the massive production of the Rumberas films, where the film studios found a check for many digits in the box office.

Special mention: artists like Damaso Perez Prado, Beny Moré, Kiko Mendive, Agustín Lara, Toña la Negra, Rita Montaner, Maria Luisa Landin, Olga Guillot and others whose musical numbers (varying according to the Mambo, Rumba, Samba or Cha Cha Cha) achieved the brilliance of the stars.

The Queens of the Tropic[edit]

Of all the great dancers who caused a sensation in Mexican Cinema, only five of them have been going down in history as the greatest exponents of Rumberas Film: (baptized as the Queens of the Tropic by the journalist Fernando Muñoz Castillo), and they were: María Antonieta Pons, Meche Barba, Amalia Aguilar, Ninón Sevilla and Rosa Carmina.

Maria Antonieta Pons[edit]

Baptized as "The Cyclone of the Caribbean," she arrived to Mexico in 1938 by the hand of her then husband, Spanish filmmaker Juan Orol, and paved the way for a sensual and daring film. After splitting from Orol, sentimentally and professionally, she passed the baton to her second husband, filmmaker Ramón Pereda. Her particular way of moving her hips and the picaresque of her films was the basis of their great success.

Meche Barba[edit]

Named "The Venus Azteca," was the only Mexican among the big five rumberas. She began her career as a "young lady" of cinema. She began to shoot Rumbera films, also known as "rumberas," in 1946. Thereafter she was a favorite of cabaret films. She and the singer Fernando Fernández were a famous couple.

Amalia Aguilar[edit]

Named "The Atomic Bomb," possessed an enormous charisma and arrived in Mexico in 1945 by the hand of the dancer Julio Richard. Her great success was due largely to his frenetic dance form that gave her recognition even in Hollywood. Unlike her colleagues, she was not the woman of suffering or perverse as she preferred to opt for light comedies.

Ninón Sevilla[edit]

Named "The Golden Venus". She debuted in 1946. Her stunning wild beauty and her spectacular physical made her the market as Spain, France and Brazil. It was a complete veddette: She dancing and acting but also singing and riding their own musical numbers. Has kept current today. Main muse was the film versions of songs by Agustín Lara as Aventurera (1950).

Rosa Carmina[edit]

Named "The Woman of Fire". She not only was a Rumberas film expert but also she was the "Queen of the Gangsters", thanks to the many movies filmed by Juan Orol. Carmina was the third wife of Juan Orol. She was discovered by Orol who left her to Mexico in 1946. Her height and singular beauty are highlighted in a particular way.

Other actresses and dancers also acted in Rumbera films, such as Silvia Pinal, Lilia Prado, Ana Bertha Lepe, Evangelina Elizondo, Ana Luisa Peluffo and other as Yadira Jiménez, Mary Esquivel and Dinorah Judith, also imported by Orol.

Is a wrong to confuse the Rumberas with the so-called Exóticas although some also danced in the movies, but dancing at different rhythms. The main Exoticas were "Tongolele, Su Muy Key, "Kalantan", "Bongala", "Turanda"", Gemma "and many others.


Between 1946 and 1959 there were more than a hundred productions of Rumberas Film. The principal directors are:


The principal films were:

  • Siboney (1938)
  • Noches de Ronda (1942)
  • Konga Roja (1943)
  • Balaju (1944)
  • La Reina del Trópico (1945)
  • Embrujo Antillano (1945)
  • Rosalinda (1945)
  • Pervertida (1945)
  • Humo en los Ojos (1946)
  • Una mujer de Oriente (1946)
  • Pecadora (1946)
  • Tania, la Bella Salvaje (1947)
  • El Ciclón del Caribe (1948)
  • Cortesana (1947)
  • Señora Tentación (1948)
  • Lazos de Fuego (1948)
  • La Venus de Fuego (1948)
  • Revancha (1949)
  • Calabacitas Tiernas (1949)
  • En cada puerto un amor (1949)
  • La Mujer del Puerto (1949)
  • Fuego en la Carne (1949)
  • Coqueta (1949)
  • Perdída (1949)
  • Amor Salvaje
  • Aventurera (1950) - Considerada la Obra maestra del género.
  • Cabaret Shanghai (1950)
  • Al Son del Mambo (1950)
  • Traicionera (1950)
  • Víctimas del Pecádo (1950)
  • En Carne Viva (1950)
  • La Reina del Mambo (1950)
  • Amor Perdído (1950)
  • María Cristina (1951)
  • La Niña Popoff (1951)
  • Dancing (1952)
  • La Diosa de Tahití (1952)
  • Yo fuí una callejera (1952)
  • La Mujer Desnuda (1952)
  • Delírio Tropical (1952)
  • En carne viva (1952)
  • Sandra, la Mujer de Fuégo (1952)
  • Mis Tres Viudas Alegres (1953)
  • La muerte es mi pareja (1953)
  • Mulata (1953)
  • Me lo díjo Adela (1954)
  • Las Cariñosas (1954)
  • Las Viudas del Cha Cha Cha (1955)
  • Yambáo (1956)
  • La Odalísca no. 13 (1958)
  • Mujeres de Fuego (1959)
  • Zarzuela 1900 (1949)
  • Caña Brava (1964)

Genre Decline[edit]

In the late 1950s, the plots of Rumberas film lost originality. All actresses acting in similar roles and patterns, and it ceased to be attractive to the public. To this is added the attacks of the "Legion of Decency", which had the support of the authorities, gender and regarded as a breach of morality and decency. The power of this group was so important that even the Mexican Academy of Film vetoed for many years to the Rumberas film in the Silver Ariel Award Ceremony. The power of this group soon reached several points of Latin America, which marked the end of the genre.

Some of the Rumberas as Maria Antonieta Pons and Amalia Aguilar opted for retirement, while Ninon Sevilla, Meche Barba and Rosa Carmina opted to emigrate to television, where they have had guest appearances on the Mexican telenovelas.

Genre re-evaluating[edit]

In the 1980s, there was a re-evaluation of the genre of Rumberas. This was made possible in large part to the demise of the League of Decency, and the Mexican Academy first recognized Sevilla and Barba careers. The writer of telenovelas Carlos Romero was another figure to the appreciation of the genre to rescue from oblivion to several rumberas and honored in some series like La pasión de Isabela (1984) and Salomé (2001).

In 1993, the journalist Fernando Muñoz Castillo published the book "Las Reinas del Trópico", where rescues and honors the life and work of the greatests five rumberas.

From 1997 and until today, the Mexican actress Carmen Salinas revived the classic Aventurera in a musical play (the most successful in Mexico), and where does a tribute to the old era of Rumberas film. The work you got Broadway and has been starring actresses as Edith González, Itatí Cantoral, Niurka Marcos and most recently Maribel Guardia, among others. In the 2010 another stage play was released named Perfume de Gardenias, starring by Aracely Arámbula.


  1. ^ Juan Felipe Leal. Anales del Cine en México, 1895–1911. Vol. 6, 1900: Segunda parte. El cinematógrafo y los teatros. Juan Felipe Leal. pp. 224–. ISBN 978-607-7700-42-5. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 


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