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The internet, God and Pedro Infante… how much more Mexican can you get?

16 April 2007

Sunday was the 50th anniversary of Pedro Infante’s death (in a plane crash in Merida).  Cardinal Norberto Rivera had a full house for a change … at least 2000 to hear morning mass, with a sermon built around the theme of “Compassion and Christian Love… and the films of Pedro Infante”.  The sermon was carried live via radio, television and internet in Argentina, Peru, Costa Rica, Italy, Germany, Poland and parts of the United States. 

Burrohall, who managed to move to Mexico without knowing who Pedro Infante was (how did he get residency… I’m sure it was on the test), nicely summarizes his appeal in gringo terms:

Infante was the most beloved singing movie cowboy of the black-and-white era. Sort of the Mexican Gene Autry, though his iconic stats is more like the Mexican Elvis Presley. Exactly 50 years ago (as of 11:12 this morning), he became the Mexican Buddy Holly.

Burrohall forgot one — the Mexican Rocky (Pepe el Toro).  Or maybe Rocky was a Americanized version of Pepe.  The Sonora-born self-taught crooner proved he was more than just a singing cowboy with his his performance as a Tepito boxer supporting his family, in the 1953 classic. 

Mexico in the 50s was conscious of its move from a rural to an urban culutre, and Pedro Infante’s personal story (the young ambitious provincial who moves to Mexico City and works his way up the social ladder), carried over into his films.  He was often typecast as a charro, mostly because of his Norteño accent, but Mexicans saw themselves in Infante’s characters… or the best of themselves:  well-intentioned, not always playing by the rules, but within the bounds of tradition.  And open to their emotions and experiences. 

The posthumously released Tizoc, considered his finest film, cast him as far from a Norteño charro as he could get… as a traditional Indian.  Tizoc is a tragedy, the story of a poor, simple indigenous man who falls in love with the visitor from the wider, complicated world, Maria Felix.  Felix is clueless that her acts are cultural signs of love, and is unable — or unwilling — to respond.   

I don’t think a guy who had three of his children by a woman not his wife (shocking!) is a candidate for “official” sainthood, but the saint of hoods.  Elvis and Jesus both are painted on velvet, and both said to have been seen after their death.  Rumors that Infante survived the plane crash surface from time to time, and — while there is a Church of Elvis — I don’t think you’ll find Elvis’ image in any Catholic Church… or even semi-Catholic one.  However, there is a “saint” (though not approved by the Church) especially dear to Infante’s fellow norteños, Jesus Malverde.  While best known as the “narco saint” Malverde is revered by the poor and downtrodden, the Tizocs and Pepes of our time. 

Jesus Malverde, probably not being a real person (he was allegedly a bandit in the late 19th century), wasn’t particularly saintly, and nobody knows what he looked like.  But, we know what a charro and Mexican hero SHOULD look like.  

jesus-pedro.jpg

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 29 December 2008 1:59 pm

    que se puede decir…Pedro Infante…”el imortal”

  2. Paulino Nogueira permalink
    19 January 2009 5:28 pm

    Pedro Infante, o mais compléto ator/cantor, que o mundo conheceu. Canções e peliculas memoraveis.

  3. 29 December 2015 11:08 pm

    VIVA PEDRO INFANTE

  4. Karen Coughlin permalink
    22 September 2017 4:51 pm

    Hello! Is Sonia Infante on Facebook? She is the niece of Piedro Infante and daughter of Angel Infante. She knows Frank Coughlin from the USA. Would like to get in touch with her.

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