!Bienvenido, Mr. Marshall!

Welcome Mr. Marshall!
Bienvenido mister marshall.JPG
Theatrical release poster by Francisco Fernández Zarza
Directed byLuis García Berlanga
Written byJuan Antonio Bardem
Luis García Berlanga
Miguel Mihura
Produced byVicente Sempere
StarringJosé Isbert
Manolo Morán
Lolita Sevilla
CinematographyManuel Berenguer
Edited byPepita Orduna
Music byJesús García Leoz
Release date
  • 4 April 1953 (1953-04-04)
Running time
95 minutes
CountrySpain
LanguageSpanish
Commemorative plaque in Guadalix de la Sierra, Spain

Welcome Mr. Marshall! (Spanish: ¡Bienvenido, Mister Marshall!) is a 1953 Spanish comedy film directed by Luis García Berlanga, and considered one of the masterpieces of Spanish cinema. The film highlights the stereotypes held by both the Spanish and the Americans regarding the culture of the other, as well as displays social criticism of 1950s Francoist Spain (showing a typical Spanish village, with typical inhabitants: a priest, the majority of the population that are peasants, the mayor, and a hidalgo). The film was entered into the 1953 Cannes Film Festival.[1] It was the first full-length film Berlanga directed alone.[2]

Plot[]

A small Castilian town, Villar del Río is alerted to an upcoming visit of American diplomats; the town begins preparations to impress the American visitors, in the hopes of benefiting under the Marshall Plan. Hoping to demonstrate the side of Spanish culture with which the visiting American officials will be most accustomed, the citizens don unfamiliar Andalusian costumes, hire a renowned flamenco performer, and re-decorate their town in Andalusian style. A flamenco impresario (Manolo Morán) who spent time in Boston advises the locals to think of what they will ask from the Americans.

On the eve of the Americans' visit, three of the central characters dream of stereotypical American culture and history, based uniquely on their lives and experiences. The mayor dreams of a Western-like bar brawl, the hidalgo dreams of the arrival of a conquistador on New World shores, and the priest sees the hoods of a Holy Week procession turn into Klansmen dragging him before the Committee on Un-American Activities accompanied by jazz music. Also, a poorer man dreams that the Americans, shown as the Three Kings, fly over his field and parachute a new tractor into his field.

The day of the Americans' visit arrives and the whole town is prepared to put on a show. However, the American motorcade speeds through the village without stopping. The locals are left to remove the decorations and pay for the expenses with their personal belongings, including the flamenco impresario who gives up a gold ring given to him by the Americans in Boston.

Production[]

Initially, Berlanga was commissioned to make a film to serve as a vehicle for the budding flamenco singer Lolita Sevilla, but Berlanga decided to give the film a deeper, more satirical meaning.[2] In creating Welcome Mr. Marshall!, Berlanga publicly claimed to offer a human picture of what the Spanish peasant, interested more in crops than in politics, might feel about the American people and their role in the post-war world.[3] Underneath the surface, the film is an anti-Francoist satire despite receiving approval because the censorship board understood it to be an anti-American satire.[4]

Berlanga chose to film in the small village of Guadalix de la Sierra, fifty miles north of Madrid. Villagers were cast as themselves, taking all but the principal roles and changing many of the scenes. During the scene in which townspeople lined up to state their hearts' desires, they ignored the script and asked for what they actually wanted.[3]

Shooting lasted ten weeks with a production budget of $70,000 ($780,000 in 2022 dollars).[3]

Influence[]

A sculpture depicting two Andalusians with banners reading "Bienvenidos", "Hola", "Welcome".
The location of Guadalix has a sculpture depicting Andalusians with welcome signs as in the film.

The title is often mentioned in discussions of American investment in Spain as a caveat against delusion. An example is the 2012-2013 Eurovegas project.[5][6]

The film is one of the influences on the 2019 Spanish comedy film The Little Switzerland.[7]

Cast[]

Reception[]

Welcome Mr. Marshall! received positive reviews by critics and was immensely popular among Spanish audiences, garnering enough praise to gain entry to the Cannes Film Festival.[8] According to Peter Besas, a Madrid correspondent for Variety, the film was denied an award at Cannes when a judge, the actor Edward G. Robinson, under threat from Senator Joseph McCarthy, vetoed it as anti-American.[9] Despite this, Welcome Mr. Marshall! received a Special Mention.[10]

In April 1953, Jane Cianfarra of the New York Times anticipated that the film would "do big things" for what she referred to as "Spain's slumbering film industry" as well as for the future careers of Berlanga and Bardem.[3] In 1993, film critic Stephen Holden observed that "although more than 40 years old, this funny compassionate little fable has an ebullience and freshness that transcend its historical context."[11]

References[]

  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Welcome Mr. Marshall!". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 24 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b Marsh, Steven (2006). Popular Spanish Film under Franco: Comedy and the Weakening of the State. Palgrave Macmillan London. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-230-51187-3.
  3. ^ a b c d Cianfarra, Jane (5 April 1953). "The Spanish Peasant's View on Marshall Aid". New York Times. pp. x6. ProQuest 112907556.
  4. ^ Arce, Julio (2011). "Irony, esperpento, and Parody in the Music of ¡Bienvenido Mister Marshall!". Journal of the Center for Iberian and Latin American Music.
  5. ^ Bienvenido, Míster Adelson, Eduardo Muriel, 26 June 2012, Público. The title is changed for Sheldon Adelson.
  6. ^ Eurovegas No protesta contra el complejo proyectando 'Bienvenido Mr. Marshall', El Mundo (Spain), 26 November 2012. A group campaigning against Eurovegas screens "Welcome Mr. Marshall" as a protest.
  7. ^ Jiménez, Jesús (26 April 2019). "'La pequeña Suiza', Berlanga inspira una comedia sobre los nacionalismos". RTVE.es (in Spanish). Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  8. ^ MacDonald, Darla (20 January 2013). "Bienvenido, Míster Marshall (Luis García Berlanga, 1952)". Madrid Blogs.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ Besas, Peter (1985). Behind the Spanish Lens: Spanish Cinema Under Fascism and Democracy. Arden Press. p. 38. ISBN 9780912869063.
  10. ^ Whelan, John; Kaplan, Temma. "Forgetting Mister Marshall: The Re-Emergence of Spanish-American Relations in the Post-War Era". Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey: 9.
  11. ^ Holden, Stephen (19 November 1993). "Review/Film; Audacious Spanish Comedy". New York Times. pp. C18. Retrieved 12 December 2022.

External links[]