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New Left Review I/232, November-December 1998


Aurora Bosch, M. Fernanda del Rincón

Franco and Hollywood, 1939—56

The Cinema and Spanish Society

General Francisco Franco, whose forty-year dictatorship—the longest of any in Western Europe in the twentieth century—effectively divided Spanish society into the victors and vanquished of the bitter fratricidal civil war of 1936—39, shared one passion with his fellow Spaniards, irrespective of their political allegiances: the cinema. [1] A second shared passion was for playing the football pools, the weekly gamble on the results of the football league matches. Not only were special film showings held for the dictator at his Pardo Palace outside Madrid, but Franco pseudonomously wrote a film script, La Raza, which reached Spanish screens in 1942, as well as occasionally writing film reviews—also under a pseudonym—for the Madrid newspaper, abc. Not surprisingly, the dictator’s film script was a vehicle for his vision of the causes and origins of the Civil War as seen through a family of anti-Republican and Catholic persuasions similar to his own, with the exception of one son who argues in favour of the legally established Republic. [2] Only in its upper-class social origins does the family of La Raza differ from Franco’s more ordinary roots as a naval officer’s son. This son—loosely based on the General’s brother, the aviator Major Ramón Franco—loses the arguments, of course, and the film vindicates the military rising led by the General in 1936. The film’s title, La Raza (Race), indicates Franco’s attachment to the ‘authentic’ virtues and values of traditional and anti-liberal Catholic sectors of Spanish society.

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