5 October 2014 | EdgarST
"Sombra verde" is another little gem by underrated Mexican director Roberto Gavaldón. Shot almost entirely in open spaces, the melodrama is an adaptation of the 1949 novel of the same name by Mexican writer Ramiro Torres Septién. It tells the story of scientist Federico Garzón who is sent by a pharmaceutical company to investigate the possibility of exploiting barbasco in the jungle of Veracruz, to produce cortisone from its roots. But Federico and his guide Pedro get lost, and when the scientist is the only survivor in the middle of the jungle, he finds a remote farm by a waterfall called Paraíso (Paradise). The owner tries to kill him, but his young daughter Yáscara falls for the stranger. Gavaldón, who usually wrote the script with his collaborators, created magnificent images, as the opening shots of a popular fair; the sequence when vultures fly low, surrounding Federico on horse, as he carries the corpse of Pedro on another animal; or all the intensely erotic scenes involving young, beautiful and lovely Ariadne Welter as Yáscara. There was no Hays code ruling the Mexican film industry nor the Catholic fanaticism of Franco's Spain to deprive the relation of sensuality and to suggest a chaste friendship instead: it is obvious that Yáscara knows everything about mating, as it is she who asks Federico to be her man, and whenever they start romancing, there is no denial of the intense foreplay
the camera looks somewhere else with complicity. Handsome and well-built Ricardo Montalbán returned to the film industry of his home country, taking a brief and healthy rest from Esther Williams' swimming pool romantic vehicles and other silly Hollywood mishmash. Víctor Parra's solid enactment of Yáscara's father; Jorge Martínez de Hoyos' award-winning performance as Pedro, Antonio Díaz Conde's score and Alex Phillips' monochromatic cinematography, are all assets in this fine production.