¡Ay, qué tiempos, señor don Simón! (Those Were the Days, Señor Don Simon!). 1941. Mexico. Directed by Julio Bracho. Screenplay by Bracho and Naftali Beltrán. With Joaquin Pardavé, Arturo de Córdova, Mapy Cortés. In Spanish; English subtitles. 102 min.
Bracho’s first feature is an exuberant sex farce nostalgically set during the early 20th century regime of Porfirio Diaz, portrayed here as a Mexican belle époque. The Puerto Rican star Mapy Cortés plays a fiery young widow who defies convention by wearing white before her mourning period is over and attending a risqué theatrical revue, where she spies Don Simón (Joaquin Pardavé), the portly, hypocritical head of the local moral improvement society. The film’s tremendous commercial success gave Bracho carte blanche for his next few films, and introduced him to two of his most important collaborators: the cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa and the composer Raúl Lavista.