Guillermo Calles

A Biography of the Actor and Mexican Cinema Pioneer


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About the Book

In 1912, Guillermo Calles (1893–1958) became the first Mexican actor to appear in films made in California. Despite limited resources, he began directing and producing his own movies, and in 1929 pioneered production of Spanish-language sound films. His major works, among them the long-unavailable El indio yaqui and Raza de bronce (both 1927), represented Calles’ tireless crusade to restore the image of Mexicans and Indians in an era dominated by Hollywood stereotypes.
This biography traces Calles’ career from his earliest Hollywood days through the 1950s. Included are the only surviving images of the filmmaker’s silent productions, a closing commentary on his intimate circle of relatives, and an appendix featuring two fascinating letters written by Calles during a filming trip.

About the Author(s)

Rogelio Agrasánchez, Jr., is director and curator of the Agrasánchez Film Archive in Harlingen, Texas, the world’s largest private collection of Mexican cinema. He is the author of several books.

Bibliographic Details

Rogelio Agrasanchez, Jr.
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 203
Bibliographic Info: 85 photos, 2 maps, appendices, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4945-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5648-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Preface      1

1. From Chihuahua to Arizona      7

2. Becoming an Actor in Hollywood      18

3. Riding the Wave of Nationalism      33

4. “The Vindication of Our Race on the Celluloid”      47

5. The Popular Appeal of Guillermo Calles’s Films      65

6. On the Road: From Los Angeles to Mexico City      86

7. A Pioneer of Mexican Talkies      102

8. Last Films as a Director      120

9. Confrontation with Labor Unions and Hunger Strike      132

Epilogue: The Calles Family      146

Appendix 1: Filmography      155

Appendix 2: Exhibition of Films      162

Appendix 3: Pro-Patria      165

Appendix 4: Recovering a Film Script of El indio yaqui      179

Chapter Notes      181

Bibliography      187

Index      191

Book Reviews & Awards

“fascinating…impressive”—Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies.