A Mexican Spy in America (1914)

No confundir esta cinta con The Mexican Spy o Girl Spy in Mexico. Esta cinta de la compañía 101 Bison es un caso único donde los mexicanos son representados por hawaianos, pues la cinta se filmó en Honolulu y según la nota ello abona a las similitudes entre Hawaii y Mexico para crear un atmósfera adecuada.

La nota sobre esta cinta se publicó en The Motion Picture News  de julio 18, 1914 (Vol. X, No. 2, p. 56):

“A Mexican Spy in America.” (101 Bison. Two reels. Saturday, July 18.)—This picture was photographed in Honolulu and, due to the similarity between Mexico and Honolulu, the Mexican atmosphere is uppermost in every foot of the picture.

The part of the action that transpires in the United States is supposed to take place on the border, and here, too, the atmosphere is predominant. The Mexicans that appear in the picture, other than the principals, are Hawaiians and these hitter make ideal Mexicans. The drill scenes on the border are most realistic, partly because they are real. Besides these valuable elements of the picture the drama has a new turn to affairs when, in the finale, the hero turns from the heroine even after she has proved herself worthy of him.

The Mexican spy is a friend of the son of the commandant of the United States fort, and when war is declared the spy is commissioned to procure the signal code. He is found out and apprehended before any harm occurs. Marie Walcamp and William Clifford are the principals.

Triunfan “cinematografistas” en México a pesar de la revolución (1914)

La situación de los empresarios “cinematografistas” de la ciudad de México fue boyante por lo que se desprende de la nota aparecida en The Motion Picture News del 18 de julio de 1914 (Vol. X, No. 2, p. 175). Según la noticia “especial” para el rotativo la guerra no hizo mella en el negocio del cine.

El negocio del cine no fue afectado por la revolución y la nota recalca la importancia del Salón Rojo que cobra un tostón por tanda, equivalente a 25 centavos de dólar donde se podía comer un helado así como degustar una opípara cena y asistir a cualquiera de sus tres salas de proyección. También hace mención de las carpas en los barrios populares donde los precios rondan los diez centavos plata.

El Salón Rojo tuvo una ganancia de diez mil pesos por la exhibición de la pelea Jeffries-Johnson ; mientras que el dueño español del cine Internacional obtuvo cinco mil pesos por la proyección de unos ataques zapatistas en Milpa Alta. La vista de las escenas de la revolución maderista dio una ganancia de 27 mil pesos al ser exhibida en la capital, Puebla, Guadalajara y Monterrey. El teatro María Guerrero y otros de la periferia, según los empresarios del ramo, obtienen del total de sus entradas, alrededor de 40% en ganancias.

A la población de la ciudad de México, que fluctuaba en alrededor de 600 mil almas, le gustaba las escenas de aviación, los eventos deportivos del Jockey Club y del Club Reforma y las siempre atractivas corridas de toros que nunca faltaban en las proyecciones de vistas, así como los eventos militares de la revolución.

Son las cintas norteamericanas seguidas por las francesas las que más atraen a los asistentes, sin que tengan mucha predilección por asuntos educativos o culturales, ya que los mexicanos no entendían los intertítulos en inglés que por aquella época no se traducían ni se subtitulaban.

El Salón Rojo
El Salón Rojo


Revolutions of Four Years Fail to Disturb the Prosperity of “Cinematografías,” Which Made Money When Other Business Houses and the Regular Theatres Were Forced to Close – American Films Are the Favorites

Special to The Motion Picture News.

Mexico City-, Mex., July 8. Revolutions and banditry which have swept Mexico during the past four years have failed to affect the largest amusement factor in the lives of Mexicans—outside the bullfights—the motion picture houses.

At the beginning of the series of revolutions, in November, 1910, eleven “cinematografias,” as the motion picture houses are called in Spanish, were in operation in this city.

Other business houses went by the board, every theatre except the Principal, was compelled to close its doors by the depressing effect of the various uprisings, but the picture houses apparently are making as much money as ever.

The range from the magnificent Salón Rojo—or Red Hall—with its wide balconies overhanging San Francisco avenue, its large refreshment parlor where anything to eat from ice cream to a seven-course dinner can be obtained, and its three film halls operating simultaneously, down to the little street show set up on a canvas-covered lot in the suburbs.

Prices range with the size and location of the motion picture houses. The Salón Rojo charges a “toston,” or fifty cents, silver (25 cents American currency) admission, but this entitles the ticket-buyer to spend as much time as he likes in the balconies, watching the parade of fine carriages and beautiful women in Avenida de San Francisco, and to see all three of the shows as often as he likes.

In the suburbs and in the outskirts of the main city—which, by the way, shelters 600.000 inhabitants—admission to the tent-houses presenting one, and rarely, two films, is as low at ten cents, silver (five cents, U.S. currency).

Enormous crowds pack both the high-priced and the cheap movies, and some of their best attractions are films of their own wars. Profits have been large in the motion picture business in Mexico City.

The proprietor of the Salón Rojo cleared $10,000 net profit on the films of the Jeffries-Johnson fight, while the Spanish owner of the “Cine Internacional,” a hall which has no other attraction than its films, netted $5,000 on a picture he made during a raid of the Zapatista bandits on Milpa Alta, about twenty miles from Mexico City.

Films of the Madero revolution, made by agents of the owner of the Salon Rojo and shown through the smaller “movie” houses in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Puebla, and Monterey, made a net profit, according to the manager’s report to the government, of $27,000.

Of foreign films, those of the United States predominate, but many made in France are shown. These usually appear first in the larger houses in the center of the city, and then are shown in the tent houses, the María Guerrero Theatre, and similar small amusement places. Owners of these houses figure on about forty per cent of their gross income being net profit.

The people of this capital have developed a taste for news films and for Western dramas. They care little for educational films, largely because the majority do not understand the captions, which are written in English.

The bullfight has been reproduced frequently and well by the native movie-makers; indeed, not an important fight is held without being put onto the films of some one of the larger houses.

Aviation meets, military movements and sports of the Reforma and Jockey Clubs likewise have been filmed, and have attracted crowded houses, where similar foreign films would draw only foreigners to see them.

The field in Mexico City, and most of the larger towns of the republic, is controlled by the owners of the Salón Rojo, though the proprietor of the Cine Internacional has made some inroad into the business of the “one-man trust.”