Writer and Director. Nationality: Mexican. Born: Badajóz, Spain, 5 September 1920; naturalized Mexican citizen. Family: Married the dancer and actress Raquel Rojas. Career: Actor from his teens; 1939—on stage in Mexico with Blanch Brothers' company; 1940—film debut as actor in La torre de los suplicios; 1946—first film as writer, El ahijado de la muerte; 1960—first film as director, Los jovenes. Died: December 1992.
Films as Writer (Often in Collaboration):
El ahijado de la muerte (Foster)
Nocturno de amor (Gómez Muriel); Enredate y veras (Orellana); Flor de caña (Orellana); Negra consentida (Soler); Los amores de une viuda (Soler)
La liga de las muchachas (Cortés); Un cuerpo de mujer (Davison); El gran calavera (The Great Madcap) (Buñuel)(+ ro); Tu, solo tu (Delgado) (+ ro); Yo quiero ser hombre (Cardona)
Mala hembre (Delgado); Si me viera Don Porfirio (Cortés);Los olvidados (The Young and the Damned) (Buñuel);Huellas del pasado (Crevenna); El siete machos (Delgado)
La hija del angaño (Daughter of Deceit) (Buñuel); Una gringuita en Mexico (Soler); Canasta uruguaya (Cardona);Los enredos de una gallega (Soler); Anillo de compromiso(Gómez Muriel); La Miel se fue de la luna (Soler); Carne de presidio (Soler)
Se la paso la mano (Soler); Isla de mujeres (Baledón)
El bruto (The Brute) (Buñuel); El (This Strange Passion)(Buñuel); Gitana tenias que ser (Baledón); La ilusión viaja en tranvia (Buñuel)
El rio y la muerte (The River and Death) (Buñuel); La visita que no toco al timbre (Soler); Sombra verde (Gavaldón);. . . y mañana seran mujeres! (Galindo); La vida no vale nada (González)
El rey de Mexico (Baledón); La tercera palabra (Soler); El inocente (González)
La Mort en ce jardin (Gina; Evil Eden; Death in the Garden) (Buñuel); Escuela de rateros (González)
A media luz los tres (Soler)
El hombre de Alazan (González); El cariñoso (Baledón); Me gustan valentones (Soler); La tijera de oro (Alazraki)
El hombre neustra de cada dia (González); El toro negro (Alazraki); La Fièvre monte à El Pao (Los ambiciosos) (Buñuel); El esqueleto de la señora Morales (González); Bala peridida (Urueta); Guantes de Oro (Urueta)
Suicídate, mi amor (Martínez Solares)
El ángel exterminador (The Exterminating Angel) (Buñuel)
Fe, esperanza y caridad (Bojorques)
Films as Writer and Director:
Tlayucan (The Pearl of Tlayucan)
"Divertimento" ep. of Juego peligroso
La casa de cristal
El oficio más antiguo; La puerta (short)
Esperanza; El muro de silencio
Las fuerza vivas
Terrór y encajes negros (Terror and Black Lace)
Lo que importa es vivir (What's Important Is to Live)
By ALCORIZA: book—
The Exterminating Angel and Los olvidados (scripts), in Three Screen Plays by Luis Buñuel, New York, 1969.
By ALCORIZA: articles:—
Tiempo de Cine, Spring 1965.
Cinemateca (Montevideo), January 1978.
Dirigido por . . . (Barcelona), February 1978.
Cineinforme, January 1982.
Dirigido por . . . (Barcelona), February 1982.
On ALCORIZA: articles—
Film Heritage (Dayton, Ohio), Fall 1965.
Filme Cultura (Rio de Janeiro), no. 7, 1967.
Hablemos de Cine (Lima), no. 61–62, 1971.
Huelva Festival Booklet, 1971.
Nevares, Beatriz Reyes, in The Mexican Cinema, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1976.
Obituary in Variety, 14 December 1992.
* * *
Luis Alcoriza is best known for his script collaborations with fellow Spaniard Luis Buñuel, having worked on some of Buñuel's more intriguing Mexican films. But in his later life, Alcoriza emerged as one of the leading scenarists of modern Mexican cinema. After 1962 he scripted a number of important films (most of which he directed himself), which are his own peculiar blend of raucous entertainment and pointed social criticism. His unit of analysis is the group which, especially in his post-Buñuel period, he uses to symbolize Mexican society. This is a motif that is discernible in his Buñuel films as early as Los olvidados (the gang of street kids in Mexico City). Similarly, there are the bourgeois guests in El ángel exterminador, mysteriously trapped in their host's drawing-room, the disparate band of refugees lost in the jungle in La Mort en ce jardin, and the political prisoners, bureaucrats, politicians, and hangers-on in the fictional South American dictatorship of La Fièvre monte à El Pao.
But whereas Buñuel's aims were existential, surrealist, and absurdist, Alcoriza's were satirical. Buñuel's films were bleak, detached commentaries on the human animal as he observed it, their undeniably dark side due to the fact that Buñuel's vision did not encompass redemption. Alcoriza's view was more hopeful. His scripts poke fun at human nature (particularly as it expresses itself in the Mexican national character), but like all true satirists, he criticizes in the hope of improving humanity. In Alcoriza's cinematic universe redemption is a goal worth striving for—is the only goal worth striving for. Asked why he chose to write and direct Tarahumara, his semidocumentary film about an isolated Mexican Indian tribe scratching out its meager existence in a remote region of Chihuahua, Alcoriza said: "I am not in agreement with the world in which I have to live, because I do not like our society. Today we try to reach other worlds, the moon, Mars . . . and the most elementary problems—hunger, justice, [human] dignity—have yet to be resolved." But Alcoriza believed this situation could be changed. Accordingly, his body of work reflects healthy indignation rather than Buñuel's typically distressing resignation.
Two of his more illustrious scripts (both for films he directed) are Presagio, coscripted by Gabriel García Márquez, about a village whose inhabitants come to believe that they are living under an evil spell, and Mecánica nacional, the story of a group of automobile racing fans, on their way to see the conclusion of an Acapulco-to-Mexico City auto race, who are thrown together for a day and a long night due to a traffic jam. In these and other Alcoriza films (Tlayucan, Tiburoneros, El oficio más antiguo, Las fuerza vivas) he fills an expansive canvas with a large cast of characters and succeeds in creating a Rabelaisian cross-section of Mexican society.
—Charles Ramírez Berg