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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Despite his vast output, it's rare to find a Cantinflas comedy in a subtitled version, such as this entry, now available on a Columbia Classics DVD. Unfortunately, although the movie was produced on an extremely grand scale, El Mago is not very funny. In fact, it's not a typical Cantinflas offering by any means. But it was filmed on the grandest of grand scales and it does have a glorious abundance of girls! Lots of really beautiful young women, led here by the adorable Leonora Amar – and all of them really stunningly photographed by Mexico's master of feminine pulchritude, Raul Martinez Solares. That's just as well, because Mario Moreno, i.e. Cantinflas, bumbles and mumbles his way through just about every scene, except for three or four extremely short sequences, and he really doesn't have anything very witty to say, nor does he really create a character – at least in this excursion – with whom an audience can identify. To add to the movie's woes, Miguel M. Delgado's direction often seems hesitant rather than bold and one often gets the impression that he is actually allowing Cantinflas himself to call the shots. The movie is definitely worth seeing but don't expect an Around the World in Eighty Days!
  • Cantinflas, the Mexican Charlie Chaplin, is a lazy administration at a lookalike agency. When a weary spiritualist (referred to throughout as "a magician") wants to take a holiday without abandoning his regular customers, he hires a double from the agency. However, the double gets spooked when gangsters show up at the spiritualist's temple, but he somehow manages to sucker the hapless Cantinflas into taking his place.

    Meanwhile, it turns out "the magician" really is from the mysterious east, and is the rightful ruler of the kingdom of Arichi, following the death of his father. A group of missionaries are sent out to find him, but they of course pick up the clueless Cantinflas instead. To add to the intrigue, one of the missionaries is actually a traitor who supports the late king's brother, and intends to finish off the true heir. Add the mob (who want to use the spiritualist's skills in their crimes) and a gold digging temptress (Leonora Amar), and hilarity soon ensues...

    The comedy relies heavily on fish-out-of water antics, as the classless Cantinflas presides over his cringing subjects and makes nonsensical comments to the international media. He comically fawns after the beautiful Amar, and a drink with the mob ends in chaos.

    Cantinflas' comedies are always worth a watch (if you understand Spanish or can find a subtitled version), and 'El Mago' is no exception. As usual, it's the charisma of the star that is the main drawing point, but there's also a madcap creativity behind his films that put them at least on par with many contemporary American comedies. The fantasy elements are minimal though, pretty much amounting to the real magician's fortune telling abilities not actually being discredited – but that's not really surprising since he's not in it much.