Chances are you’ve seen a Cantinflas movie, or have heard of Cantinflas at the very least. A staple of many of our childhoods (or, our parents’ childhoods), the legendary Mexican comedian otherwise known as Mario Moreno was one of the most influential figures of Mexican cinema in the 20th century. Known for his alter-ego (thin mustache and all), Cantinflas worked tirelessly for over four decades crafting comedies that earned him comparisons to Charlie Chaplin. Often playing bumbling fools stuck in outrageous plots that showcased his natural knack for physical comedy, Cantinflas was a beloved character. Widely successful at home, he also managed to wow Hollywood with a couple of forays into global fare and even earn a Golden Globe.
Never too far from our collective consciousness (just recently he’s been seen in a new amusement park ride, a biopic, and a newly unearthed 1940s US-funded pro-Mexico ad) the Golden Globe-winning comedian’s appeal remains timeless. Sadly that hasn’t translated into making his films any more accessible. Right now, if you want a primer on this Mexican icon, chances are you’ll have to splurge on a DVD (or 30) to really get a sense of his vast filmography. But for those looking to enjoy some of his work from the comfort of your own home, we’ve found five of his movies that are currently streaming online. Check them out below.
Around the World in 80 Days
Based on Jules Verne’s globe-trotting adventure novel, this epic film follows Phileas Fogg (David Niven) as he attempts to make good on a bet that he can travel around the world in 80 days. Joined by his trusty and resourceful valet, Passepartout (Cantinflas), Fogg sets out on a journey that takes him to Paris, Spain, India, Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, and the Wild West, among other exotic destinations. Michael Anderson’s Oscar-winning project remains one of the most ambitious films of its era. And, perhaps, more importantly for Cantinflas fans, it was proof of the Mexican star’s crossover appeal — the role of Passepartout even earned him a Golden Globe!
Romeo y Julieta
One of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays about two star-crossed lovers who wish to be together despite their family’s feud gets the Cantinflas treatment. And no, you’ve never seen a Romeo quite like this one before (or since!). Not only does the screenplay highlight issues of class but it really underlines the generational differences that are at the heart of Shakespeare’s famous play about a pair of young lovers who risk it all to be together. Moreover, the film works at a meta-level, with Cantinflas’ Romero using the role of Romeo in a local production to convince the father of his beloved Julieta (who’s producing the show) that their love is really true.
This Cantinflas comedy is a political allegory focusing on a quick-witted bureaucrat from the Republica De Los Cocos (a riff on those “Banana Republics”) who ends up being courted by the dignitaries from two superpowers, Pepeslavia (a riff on the Soviet Union) and Dolaronia (an obvious allusion to the U.S.). This laugh out loud comedy found the Mexican comedian taking on broader political issues, with his character Lopitos speaking openly against the geopolitical chess games the two superpowers play with countries around the world.
El bolero de Raquel
When his best friend dies, a shoe shiner (Cantinflas) ends up raising his child, Chavita. To do so, he enrolls in school finding there a romantic interest in his teacher, Raquel. As he struggles to stay employed to care for Chavita, Cantinflas finds himself in the kind of slapstick-ready situations that made the Mexican comedian a box office hit. Most memorably, the movie shows him trying to be a shoe-shiner at a nightclub where he ends up being a part of the “Boléro” dance act performed by Elaine Bruce, which sees Cantinflas showing off his dancing skills.
After losing his job as a waiter, Cantinflas nabs a job as a bell boy at a posh hotel. This funny farce has plenty for Cantinflas fans to enjoy: hilarious slapstick, a mistaken identity subplot, amnesia, a jewel heist, and plenty more comedy of errors that even include a raucous dance sequence at a fancy nightclub.