Today would have been the ninety-ninth birthday of Mexican pop-culture icon El Santo, and the world is celebrating, from pro wrestling nerds to the Google Doodle.
Debuting in the mid-1930s, pro-wrestler Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta knew his in-ring exploits needed the sizzle to match the beefcake.
Upon joining a group of silver-clad wrestlers in 1942, donned a mask and underwent his transformation to El Santo, a honest, fair-minded and upstanding technico that stood face-to-face against the nefarious rudos.
Over the following five decades, El Santo would thrill Mexico’s working class and poor, with tales of derring-do that would transcend the ring: his wildly popular comic book ran throughout Mexico for 35 years, only ending four years after his passing, and he would star in a long-running series (52 in all) of B-movies that would come to define the genre known as Lucha Horror.
It might be strange for those of us looking from outside that spectrum of pop-culture tropes, but his pre-Internet ubiquity was such, and his good-guy character’s virtues so simple, that he was able to blur the lines between fact and fiction, and be held in regard to this day as a real-life superhero.
Perhaps even more impressive was his adherence to kayfabe, the unwritten rule of protection of pro-wrestling continuity.
From the day he donned the mask, until a week before his passing, Santo was never identified unmasked in public, usually travelling separately from the rest of his promotion, and waiting hours to revert to his civilian identity, so as not to arouse suspicion of being one of the troupe.
He would even wear a custom version of his mask, adapted for eating, when dining publicly.
Santo retired in September of 1982, a week shy of his 65th birthday, after winning his final match, a chaotic four-on-four brawl where he teamed up with lifelong tag-team partner Gory Guerrero, as well as fellow legends El Solitario and Huracán Ramirez.
January 1984 saw El Santo appear on Mexican talk show Contrapunto to discuss life after retirement, and without warning, unmasked, as if bidding goodbye to the public.
He passed away the following week of a heart attack while on-stage at a play, and his funeral was considered one of the largest in Mexican history.
He is succeeded today by ten kids, including his son, El Hijo del Santo, and his grandchildren, among whom are El Santo Jr. and El Nieto del Santo.
When Irish Eyes Are Watching.
A new podcast about Ireland and the Irish in film.
Alex, Cliona and Séan write:
Each episode we discuss a film that features Ireland (or Irish characters) as a main element of the story. It was inspired after a stomach-turning viewing of Leap Year (2010)…
Many Irish people may know that perturbed feeling when a moon-faced eejit called Séamus blows something up in a Harry Potter film. Or feel a sting of resentment when Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson or Saoirse Ronan are nominated for “Best British Performance.” Or even just experience a jab of begrudgery when Kevin Spacey saunters into Dublin to make a kooky caper film that turns Martin Cahill into Danny Ocean.
Our podcast is about such feelings.
Subscribe on iTunes here
For the day that was in it, yesterday.
Noel Aungier, of Comedy Shenanigans, presents 10 famous movie quotes…as Gaeilge.
Previously: Are You Taffin A Laugh?
Thanks Aislinn Ní Uallacháin
What a year!
Said very few people.
‘sheet movie critic Mark Ryall’s favourite and least favourite moments of drama on screens both big and small this year.
Best Movie: Birdman
Michael Keaton runs through Times Square in his pants, and his career gets a well-deserved boost. Yes, Birdman was released in 2015 (Waaay back on the 1st of January in fact). Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s one-take meta-textual dramedy was hilarious, creative and wholly original. Amongst all the sequels, prequels, reboots and retcons, Birdman was a reminder that mainstream film still has the potential to give us something fresh.
Best TV Show: Fargo Season 2
Because The Leftovers was just too damn bleak. Yah sure Fargo’s first season was real good there, but season 2 went back to the 1970s and upped the ante. With a little Bruce Campbell and a lot of Minnesotan weirdness, Fargo was shocking, funny (often at the same time) and thoroughly brilliant. You betcha.
Best Documentary: The Queen of Ireland
Long live the Queen! Conor Horgan’s documentary is as much a snapshot of Irish society in 2015 as it is the story of a drag queen from Ballinrobe. Chin up, it could be worse.
Honourable Mention: Cartel Land – Savage, brutal and utterly compelling. Cartel Land is no fun, but it’s essential viewing.
Daniel Day–Lewis in My Left Foot is the obvious comparison, but for my money, you’d have to go back to John Hurt’s Elephant Man to find a better physical performance. A tough gig bagged Redmayne the Oscar, and deservedly so.
Honourable Mention: Bertie Ahern (The Banking Inquiry) – I believe I can fly etc.
Blanchett’s effortlessly elegant turn in Todd Haynes’ homage to old school Hollywood hit every note on the emotional spectrum. From the giddy excitement of first love to the melancholy of heartbreak, Blanchett was profoundly affecting throughout.
Worst Movie: Love
“I hear you’re a pornographer now, Father.” If Terry Richardson made a movie, it would be Love. The competition was fierce (I’m looking at you, Entourage), but Gaspar Noé’s meditation on “sexual sentimentality” blew the rest away. I would assume that at least half of the production budget went on class A drugs, which might account for a seven-page script. Exhausting and unrelentingly foul. And can you imagine the stink on that set?
Dishonourable Mention: Ted 2 – Like the first one, just without the jokes.
Worst TV Show: True Detective Season 2
Sure, Orange is the New Black was a real chore this year, but True Detective 2 was the biggest anti-climax since the millennium bug. Despite Colin Farrell’s best efforts, nothing could save this mess of miscast actors, clunky dialogue and an underwhelming story.
Dishonourable Mention: Broadchurch 2 – Pointless, unnecessary, and oh so boring.
Yesterday: ‘Damn near Perfect’