Tequila and the golden age of Mexican cinema

Between 1935 and 1950, the movie industry in Mexico reached one of the pinnacles of its history known as the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. In movies from the time, tequila was presented as a source of inspiration and symbol of Mexican-ness.

Canción "Aunque lo quieran o no" (1945) by Manuel Esperón and Ernesto CortázarFundación Beckmann A.C.

The productions from that great era show us the landscape, the music and the values of the provincial society of Mexico at that time: masculinity, courage, family, manners,  and the love of  mexican music. For each script, songs were written that were played by the most renowned tenors of the time. This positioned Mexico as a country of great arrangers, songwriters and singers.

Pedro Infante, al exterior de la cantina "Salón Tenampa" en la película "Gitana tenías que ser" (1953) by Rafael BaledónFundación Beckmann A.C.

The theme of these productions did not only have rustic tinges, for which we also saw the mariachi on screen singing in the city outside its provincial origin. It is important to note that these films present many "male" roles as part of everyday life. In contrast, women would have subordinate roles like the landowner's daughter or housewife.

Canción “El Charro Mexicano” interpretada por Jorge Negrete. (1944) by Manuel Esperón and Ernesto CortázarFundación Beckmann A.C.

In these films, the figure of the Mexican was created dressed in a charro suit with gold and silver buttons, bow tie, pistol and wide embroidered sombrero. In most of the films there were scenes in bars, picnics and family parties, where our extraordinary gastronomy was presented with its undisputed companion: tequila, our national drink.

La actriz mexicana María Félix en un cuadro de la película "El Peñón de las Ánimas" (1942) by Miguel ZacaríasFundación Beckmann A.C.

Jalisco is the state that positions that Mexican image in all its splendor. The ranches, the Charro corrals, the rustic geography and, of course, the tequila all stand out. Of the 7 great masters of Mexican music who wrote magnificent lyrics and arrangements for the films, Ernesto Cortázar and Manuel Esperón stand out.

Mexican Movie Industry (1945-12) by Peter StackpoleLIFE Photo Collection

In their songs, tequila was presented as the essence of our culture and a reference of joy and pain. Thus our intangible heritage spread throughout many corners of the world and the charro, ranchera music and tequila became the quintessential references to the culture of our country.

Mexican Movie Industry (1945-12) by Peter StackpoleLIFE Photo Collection

Tequila in the War of Independence (1810), the Mexican Revolution (1910) and the Cristero Movement (1926–29) instilled courage in the soldiers and healed their wounds. In the 1940s, this drink was associated with the world of cinema and toured the country in trailers where the films and artists of the time used to appear.

Canción “Tequila con Limón” by Manuel Esperón and Ernesto CortázarFundación Beckmann A.C.

The scenery of the films referred to popular culture. That is why a corner of a bar or a rustic home often appeared where tequila was drunk in a jug or shot glass. (" caballito")
We also find scenes of fairs, festivals and the traditional serenade in which the protagonists sought to reconcile with their beloved.

Canción “Tu recuerdo y yo” interpretada por Pedro Infante en la película "Ansiedad" (1953) by Miguel ZacaríasFundación Beckmann A.C.

Jorge Negrete, Pedro Infante, Miguel Aceves Mejía, Lucha Reyes, Matilde Sánchez Elías (La Torcacita), Lucha Villa, Lola Beltrán, Javier Solís and José Alfredo Jiménez, among others, dressed tequila up as a national symbol, along with mariachi and charrería. Thanks to these artists, we see tequila present in all the fine arts: literature, plastic arts and theater, among others.

Canción "Fiesta del Rancho" by Manuel Esperón and Ernesto CortázarFundación Beckmann A.C.

Let's take a look at Mexico, drinking in the culture of cinema through some films representative of the time. There is the celebratory theme in Fiesta del Rancho (Ranch Party) by Manuel Esperón and Ernesto Cortázar for the film No Basta ser Charro.

Canción "Juan Charrasqueado" (1945) by Víctor Cordero AurrecoecheaFundación Beckmann A.C.

These films also popularized bullfights. This musical genre tells stories in which traditional elements of Mexican-ness stand out, in this case tequila. Actor and singer Jorge Negrete popularized the Juan Charrasqueado bullfight that tells the story of a drink-prone rancher. 

The golden age of Mexican cinema laid the foundations of what is now recognized worldwide as part of Mexican-ness: the charro suit, the mariachi, passionate songs and in all these images, tequila as a companion at moments of celebration and emotion.<br>

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