Los Tallos amargos (The Bitter Stems). 1956. Argentina. Directed by Fernando Ayala. In Spanish; English subtitles. 90 min.
Screenplay by Sergio Leonardo, from the novel by Adolfo Jasca. With Carlos Cores, Aída Luz, Julia Sandoval, Vassili Lambrinos. This brilliant noir won Argentina’s Silver Condor Award as the best film of the year, but it remains virtually unknown in the rest of the world—which is unthinkable because The Bitter Stems is simply one of the finest noir-drenched crime films of the 1950s (and maybe ever). A deep-seated inferiority complex leads a Buenos Aires newspaper reporter (Carlos Cores) into a seemingly innocent correspondence-school scheme with a clever Hungarian expat (Vassili Lambrinos). But as the money flows in, so do rising suspicions about the Hungarian’s true motives. One man is driven to commit the perfect crime, with stunning and tragic results. The Bitter Stems was hailed by American Cinematographer as one of the “50 Best Photographed Films of All-Time” (by cinematographer Ricardo Younis) and features a vibrant score by the great Astor Piazzolla. This is the premiere of a brand-new 35mm restoration by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with funding provided by the Film Noir Foundation and Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Charitable Trust.