While we love us a good Netflix or Hulu bingewatch, we have to admit they are lacking when it comes to classic Spanish-language fare. That’s why we were so excited when the aptly-named Pantaya streaming service announced it’d be stacking their catalogue with a slew of, not only, the most recent flicks like No Manches Frida and Nosotros los Nobles, but with what might be the largest selection of movies from Mexico’s Golden Age.
The Lionsgate-backed service is a goldmine for those looking to catch classics featuring Cantinflas, Pedro Infante, María Felix, and many of the silver-screen legends that made their mark in early twentieth century Mexican cinema. To help you out, we’ve rounded out a list of films to check out if you want to start your very own crash course on Mexico’s Golden Age. From romantic melodramas to hilarious comedies of errors, you can’t go wrong with these ten features, all of which are available to stream from the comfort of your home on Pantaya.
Que Dios me perdone
María Felix plays a classic femme fatale with a twist – her character is a concentration camp survivor who uses her sexuality to elicit information from unwitting men at the height of Mexico City’s World War II spy games. Meanwhile, a series of inexplicable murders can only be solved by a psychologist, played by Julián Soler.
Another “woman wronged + exacting vengeance” story in the style of the original “doña” film, Doña Bárbara, Doña Diabla features Félix vamping it up as Ángela (what’s in a name, you say?), a well-to-do woman wronged by her husband, but not for long. With claps of thunder punctuating her contemptuous dialogue, a Cruella De Vil-like bolt of silver supercharging her glossy black mane, and a way with a cigarette that shows how well she can make, er, anything crumple, Doña Diabla is pure Doña Dominitrix payoff, no strings attached. Gilded, guilty pleasure for wicked ladies and those who (can’t help but) love them.
Raymunda (Dolores del Rio) is a widow about to be married to Esteban (Pedro Armendáriz). At first, her daughter Acacia (Columba Domínguez) rejects her new stepfather, thinking all he was after was their family money. But as the years go by, her rejection turns to the kind of illicit love that melodrama films are made of!
Ahí está el detalle
Unbeknownst to the head of the Cayetano household, Cantinflas is sneaking around with Paz, the maid. One night he finds himself mistaken for the brother of Mr. Cayetano’s wife which leads to the kind of comedy of errors (involving a gangster, a rabid dog, and a bountiful inheritance!) the Mexican star was so known for.
During the Mexican Revolution, don Francisco kicks out of his house and disowns his own son, José Luis for marrying a peasant woman called Esperanza, who’s then kidnapped by a pair of fake revolutionaries that José Luis then has to track down.
Camino del infierno
Camino del infierno tells the story of a love triangle gone dangerously wrong. León desperately longs after Leticia, but she’s his best friend’s (and boss!) lover. Given that she’s an ambitious minx, Leticia agrees to give herself to León in exchange for betraying her lover and his friend and steal his fortune in the process.
In the midst of the Mexican Revolution, Valentina’s husband is murdered the night of their wedding day. Stricken by righteous grief, she swears to never fall in love again. That promise is put to the test when she’s kidnapped by an arms dealer on the orders of a federal army captain who’s madly in love with her. As usual, the film is a perfect María Felix vehicle that shows exactly why she’s one of the most enduring screen icons of the twentieth century.
Two men pining for the same woman don’t know that they’re half-brothers. To complicate things, one of them belongs to Los Gavilanes, a band of merry men who sack the rich to feed the poor. The rivalry and blood feud comes to a head in this Pedro Infante classic that thrills with its story of love and revenge.
Tierra de pasiones
A romantic melodrama for the ages starring Jorge Negrete and Margarita Mora set against the backdrop of La Zandunga, a feast in the town of Tehuanchitán to celebrate the start of the mango harvest.
It is 1909. María Candelaria (Dolores del Rio) faces prejudice in her hometown of Xochimilco. Not only is she the child of a prostitute but she’s of indigenous descent. Nevertheless, she hopes to get married to her lover Lorenzo Rafael, in spite of the fact that a greedy shop owner in town has his sights set on the young woman. Things only get more complicated in this sumptuous melodrama when María Candelaria falls ill with malaria forcing Lorenzo Rafael to go through unspeakable lengths to cure her.