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Alejandro Melero

The chapter considers the importance of acting and performance in the ‘S’-rated sex films that peppered the late 1970s and 1980s in Spain. It explores the question of what precisely constitutes ‘performance’ in films which showcase ‘real’ sex between its actors; that is, if a lead actor has an erection in a scene, how much of his physical response might be considered acting? Focusing on one film in particular, Con las bragas en la mano/ Panties in the Hands (Julio Pérez Tabernero, 1981), the chapter argues that the lines between eroticism, pornography, and cinema were blurred by the explosion of sex films in Spain at this time. Finally, in turning to the career of the film’s lead actor, Emilio Línder, the chapter discusses the attempts to legitimise these films and the performances they contain, and whether or not they may have a space in Spanish cinematic history.

in Performance and Spanish film
Alejandro Melero Salvador

Since the Socialist government approved the so-called Ley de la Memoria Histórica (Law of Historical Memory) in 2007 and opened a public debate in Spain, historians and scholars have developed new approaches to examine the Second Republic. This chapter studies the legacy of Rosario Pi, Spain's first woman director, in the light of new approaches to the Second Republic as the frustrated mother of today's Spanish democracy. It looks at Pi's difficult and short career and examines her œuvre as an exceptional case of challenging narratives in popular cinema. The chapter analyses her film El gato montés as an example of subversive cinema in which the filmmaker used the popular folklore genre for presenting innovative perspectives of feminist thinking. It examines how Pi was able to defy traditional ideas about women at the same time as she challenged long-established film narratives with a very atypical adaptation of a zarzuela.

in Hispanic and Lusophone women filmmakers

While several critical works on Spanish cinema have centred on the cultural, social and industrial significance of stars, there has been relatively little critical scholarship on what stars are paid to do: act. Bringing together a range of scholars that attend carefully to the performances, acting styles, and historical influences of Spanish film, Performance and Spanish Film is the first book to place the process of Spanish acting centre stage. Comprising fifteen original essays, the book casts light on the manifold meanings, methods and influences of Spanish screen performance, from the silent era to the present day. It situates the development of Spanish screen acting in both its national and global contexts, tracing acting techniques that are largely indigenous to Spain, as well as unpicking the ways in which Spanish performance has frequently been shaped by international influences and forces. As the volume ultimately demonstrates, acting can serve as a powerful site of meaning through which broader questions around Spanish film practices, culture and society can be explored.

Abstract only
Approaching performance in Spanish film
Dean Allbritton
Alejandro Melero
, and
Tom Whittaker
in Performance and Spanish film