28 January 2004 | dwingrove
Hold On To Your Hats!
In the 30s and 40s - while recuperating from the horrors of Civil War - the cinema in Franco's Spain came up with its very own answer to Garbo and Dietrich. Her name was Conchita Montenegro, and her forte was wearing extravagant hats. Well, not only hats... Her shoes and her gowns are quite absorbing too, and her numerous wardrobe changes kept me spellbound all through the 82 minutes of Idolos. Thank God, say I. This lush romantic melodrama has nothing in the way of a plot.
Conchita is cast as a glamorous Parisian film star. That's just as well, for I seriously doubt she could play anyone else. La Montenegro doesn't just look like a star. She walks like a star, talks like a star. When she gazes soulfully into the camera, or performs a Belle Epoque song-and-dance routine, she does it as only a star could ever do. For all I know, this lady even breathes and sleeps and goes to the bathroom like a star. How I long to lay hands on more of Conchita's films, so I can revel in her phenomenal range!
So much for her 'character' - now for the 'plot.' Said Parisian film star tours all over Spain to prepare for her next role. She meets a handsome matador. They fall in love. (Well, you don't go to Spain to fall in love with a plumber, now do you?) Back in Paris, a sleazy producer gets jealous and ruins her career. Our heroine is reduced (shock! horror!) to modelling dresses in a shop. That, you see, is the only other job that will allow Conchita to wear more clothes.
The very camp director of the fashion house eyes up the matador, as he charges in to save his lady love from this Fate Worse Than Death. Speaking of which, director Florian Rey once made decent films (in the long-gone days of the Republic) but don't let his fate depress you unduly. Just keep your eye on those hats!