Perojo, Benito


Perojo, Benito
(1894-1974)
   Perojo had a long and controversial career that started with the dawn of the Spanish film industry. He began as an actor and director of short features in 1913. A few years later, he founded a production company, Patria Films. He worked as an actor in France and Italy. Back in Spain, he founded another production company with Nobel Prize-winning playwright Jacinto Benavente, Films Benavente SL, and worked continuously through-out the 1920s and the early 1930s to produce a series of films that included the box-office success El negro que tenía el alma blanca (A Black Man with a White Soul, 1927), Boy (1925), and Malvaloca (1926). It is interesting to note that even though locations for these films were in Spain, the studio work for Perojo's films before the mid-1930s was carried out in France; by taking advantage of French technology and innovations, he effectively introduced them into the Spanish film industry.
   In the early 1930s, he directed Spanish versions of foreign films in France and Hollywood. He was the most prolific Spanish director in the Republican years (he directed eight films between 1931 and 1936). He also had strong detractors among critics. In part, their objections had to do with the fact that he had become the best-known Spanish director abroad (in France he was widely regarded as a French filmmaker during the late 1920s). His exuberant use of film technique also worked against him: Spanish reactionary nationalism had always mistrusted technological prowess to the detriment of what were regarded as "essential values of the motherland." A recurrent element in the condemnation of his work was, therefore, chauvinistic: Perojo was "too cosmopolitan." According to such critics, he was not making the kind of films Spanish audiences (and the country itself) really needed. He was therefore unfavorably compared with Rey, who was regarded as someone more in touch with Spanish folklore and tradition, something that films such as La aldea maldita (The Cursed Village, 1930), La hermana San Sulpicio (Sister Saint Sulpice, 1934), and Morena Clara (1936) made evident.
   In the post-Civil War period, Perojo directed a series of very conventional films, including Lo que fue de la Dolores (Whatever Became of Dolores, 1947) and La posada del Caballito Blanco (The Inn of the Little White Horse, 1948), with disappointing results. He largely concentrated on production after the mid-1950s, and was responsible for a range of projects, especially costume dramas and musicals, including Novio a la vista (Boyfriend in Sight, Luis G. Berlanga, 1954), Aventuras del barbero de Sevilla (The Adventures of the Barber of Seville, Ladislao Vajda, 1954), Morena Clara (Luis Lucia, 1954), Le chanteur de Mexico (The Singer from Mexico, Richard Pottier, 1956), a number of Sara Montiel vehicles including La violetera (The Violet Seller, 1958) and Carmen la de Ronda (Carmen from Ronda, 1959), as well as Marisol's debut Un rayo de luz (A Ray of Light, Luis Lucia, 1960).

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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