Macario (1960) Mexico’s Foreign Language Oscar Nominee, Photographed by Gabriel Figueroa (Cannes Fest 1960)

Gabriel Figueroa’s distinguished cinematography is the most impressive element of Macario, Mexico’s first nominated feature for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.

B. Traven, better known as the author of “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” made in 1948 into a superlative film by John Huston, used an old Mexican folk tale (a variation of a “Brothers Grimm” fable) for his novel “The Third Guest.”

Ignacio Tarso plays a poverty-stricken peasant who goes on a hunger strike, hoping that someone will rescue him. Torres’ wife Pina Pellecier steals a turkey, which worries him.

Then, just as Macario prepares to eat the turkey, three men appear. The first is the Devil in the guise of a fine gentleman, who tempts Macario in order to get a piece of the turkey. The second is God in the guise of an old man.

Macario refuses to share the turkey with either–he believes that they both have the means to get themselves what they want. but just as Torres is about to eat, he’s visited by Death with a bargain.

Death offers to bestow magical powers on Torres in exchange for part of the meal, but Torres is allowed to heal only sick people that Death chooses for him.  Would he accept the bargain and become Satan’s tool?

Oscar Nominations: 1

Best Foreign Language Film

Oscar awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner was the Swedish entry, Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring.

Credits:

Directed by Roberto Gavaldón
Screenplay by Emilio Carballido, Gavaldón, based on Macario
by B. Traven
Produced by Armando Orive Alba
Cinematography Gabriel Figueroa
Edited by Gloria Schoemann
Music by Raúl Lavista
Release date: May 1960 (Cannes); June 9, 1960 (Mexico)
Running time 90 minutes