Friday, September 19, 2014

Remembering José Suárez

José Suárez Sánchez was born on September 19, 1919 in Trueba, Asturias, Spain. He made his film debut in a short role in “Altar Mayor” (1944), a very conventional film, whose director, Gonzalo Delgrás, who had discovered him working as a train conductor in Asturias. He played increasingly important roles in other Delgrás's movies and by 1948 was already a lead actor.
He then became very popular in Spain during the late 1940s and early 1950s, as one of the main heartthrobs of the Spanish cinema, along with his contemporaries Francisco Rabal, Jorge Mistral and Alfredo Mayo. Nevertheless he performed remarkably in three outstanding dramas, namely “Brigada criminal” (1950), “Condenados” (1953) and “Así es Madrid” (1953), in the screen version of Buero Vallejo`s most famous play, “Historia de una escalera” (1950), and in the historical production “Alba de América” (1951), playing King Fernando el Católico. He portrayed Zorro in the Euro-western “Lawless mountain” (1953), making him the first Spanish actor in the role. He also co-starred with the popular Andalusian gypsy singer and dancer Lola Flores in “La danza de los deseos” (1954), directed by the most prestigious veteran Spanish film-maker, Florián Rey.
In 1956, his lead role in the internationally acclaimed “Calle Mayor” provided him with the opportunity to work in Italy with well-known film directors as Luigi Zampa in “The Magistrate”, with Claudia Cardinale, and Francesco Rosi in “La sfida”, starring with Rosanna Schiaffino. He gradually lost his popularity in his home country, despite still appearing in the 1960s in some interesting Spanish movies, such as “A tiro limpio” (1963) or “La boda” (1964).
Despite appearing too in two successful mainstream Italian films: “Scano Boa” (1961) and “Sette uomini d'oro” (1965), eventually he specialized in the Spanish-Italian sword and sandal and spaghetti westerns movies, the most interesting of all them being “The Price of Power” (1969). He even played the lead in “El Llanero” (1964), one of the first films directed by the infamous master of the sexually charged horror films, Jesús Franco.
In the 1970's he appeared on National Spanish television in a few series, including a Spanish-Italian coproduction on the life of Cristóbal Colón.
His last film was “La trastienda” (1975), an artistically dispensable but sociologically significant Spanish picture, coincident with the end of Franco era in Spain.
Suárez was for many years president of the Spanish Actors Union.
He died of natural causes on August 6, 1981, in Moreda, Asturias, Spain.
Today we remember José Suárez on what would have been his 95th birthday.

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