Both a comedic and chilling film by famed director Luis Buńuel. The last of his “Mexican” period dubbed by some as a time that his films were more commercial… certainly true in comparison to his later works in which he was granted much more artistic freedom. “The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz”, “El” and “Los Olvidados”, all made in Mexico, brought Buñuel international acclaim and it was in these films that he developed his style with trademark surreal, unpredictable imagery with biting and often grim social observations.

The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz

by Luis Buñuel

Review of the film and DVD by Gary W. Tooze

When Archibaldo de la Cruz was a young boy he had an incident that would strongly formulate his adult persona. While hearing a story from his attractive Nanny regarding the power to murder through ownership of a Music Box, she is accidentally killed by a stray bullet from a political uprising. As a grown, wealthy bachelor, Archie attempts to relive his sexual awakening at seeing her legs, stockings and garters when the bullet felled her. 

Gripping you with his depth of characterization and lack of fear as a director, Buñuel creates sublime artistic cinema merely touching on dark perversions, eroticism and criminal intent. Archibaldo feeling that the re-found music box is compelling him to indulge the practices of a serial killer, finds his careful plotting and scheming continually falls short of its intended target. The plot walks the fine line between true horror, bizarre sexual lust and cynicism over Buñuel’s usual foibles of the rich, macho men and sexual and religious perceptions. Unaware of the direction the film will take us next we sit quietly pondering while being treated to some excellent well-choreographed cinematography.
As Archie’s pathological compulsion is abated when his bride, whom he intended on murdering on the honeymoon, is shot dead by her ex-boyfriend immediately after the ceremony. The police that he confronts after the shooting inform him that he is free to go as he has committed no crime and so he throws his tool of psychosis, the music box, into the lake. As if on cue he runs into an old potential flame (another he had attempted to murder unsuccessfully). We are grown to the impression that Archie will be all right now… a normal functioning member of society. Hardly true, but we are left desiring further exploits of this charismatic killer-wanna-be.
How to describe it ? How about a light, surrealistic, pornographic murder-comedy? I was reminded of Buñuel’s “El” for the hazy reflections of formulating youthful influences and also of Chaplin’s “Monsieur Verdoux” for the dark comedic aspect of attempts at murdering women.

FILM and DVD Details

This is the first feature on the DVD that includes Buñuel’s “El”. Although I would rate “El” the better film, both are great to see the continued development and formulation of Buñuel’s style. The images are very clear and the sound pretty clear tolerable. I did find the volume decrease slightly near the end of the film, but nothing a punch of your remote button won’t fix. It is chaptered with removable subtitle choices . Buy this DVD today… it is more than worth the price!

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Full Cast and Crew for
Ensayo de un crimen (1955) 

Directed by 
Luis Buñuel 

Writing credits 
Luis Buñuel 
Eduardo Ugarte 
Rodolfo Usigli 

Cast (in credits order) complete, awaiting verification 
Ernesto Alonso .... Archibaldo de la Cruz 
Miroslava Stern .... Lavinia 
Rita Macedo (I) .... Patricia Terrazas 
Ariadna Welter .... Carlota 
Rodolfo Landa (I) .... Alejandro Rivas 
Andrea Palma .... Mrs. Cervantes 
Carlos Riquelme .... The commissioner 
Leonor Llausás .... The governess 
Eva Calvo .... Archibaldo's mother 
Enrique Díaz 'Indiano' .... Archibaldo's father 
Carlos Martínez Baena .... Priest 
Roberto Meyer .... Doctor 
Chabela Durán .... Sister Trinidad 
Manuel Dondé .... Colonel at wedding 
Armando Velasco .... Judge 
rest of cast listed alphabetically 
Armando Acosta (I) .... Man at Gordo's 
Eduardo Alcaraz .... Gordo Azuara 
Janet Alcoriza .... tourist 
Rafael Banquells hijo .... Archibaldo as a boy 
Antonio Bravo .... Antiques dealer 
Emilio Brillas .... mannequin maker 
Lupe Carriles .... maid 
Jorge Casanova .... draftsman 
Ángel Di Stefani .... police agent 
Enrique García Álvarez .... Chucho 
Jesús Gómez (I) .... Lopez 
Elodia Hernández .... dress shop owner 
Francisco Ledesma (I) .... Antique shop asst. 
José María Linares-Rivas .... Willy Corduran 
Salvador Lozano (I) .... Gambler 
Ángel Merino .... handwriting expert 
José Peña (I) .... Esteban 
Ignacio Peón .... wedding guest 

Produced by 
Alfonso Patiño Gómez .... producer 

Original music by 
José Pérez (VI) 

Cinematography by 
Agustín Jiménez (I) 

Film Editing by 
Jorge Bustos 
Pablo Gómez (I) 

Art Direction by 
Jesús Bracho 

Set Decoration by 
Manuel Ladrón de Guevara (as Manuel L. Guevara) 

Makeup Department 
Sara Mateos .... makeup artist 

Sound Department 
Rodolfo Benítez .... dialogue recordist 
Teódulo Bustos .... sound editor 
Ernesto Caballero .... sound recordist 
Enrique Rodríguez (II) .... music recordist 

Other crew 
Gabriel Castro (II) .... lighting 
Sergio Véjar .... camera operator 

Also Known As: 
Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz, The (1955) (USA)
Rehearsal for a Crime (1955)
Vida criminal de Archibaldo de la Cruz, La (1955) 
Runtime: 89 
Country: Mexico 
Language: Spanish 
Color: Black and White 
Sound Mix: Mono 



Audio Features: Mono

Video Features: NTSC

Audio Languages: Mono: Spanish

Subtitles: French, English

Additional Information:
Interactive Menus, Scene Access, Filmographies, Alternative Final

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