Mario “Cantinflas” Moreno, whom the legendary comedian Charlie Chaplin dubbed “the funniest man in the world,” began his career in the 1930s in the “carpas” (tent shows) in Mexico City. After early attempts to find his comedic voice, he embraced his own heritage as a lowly slum dweller and audiences enthusiastically endorsed this comic persona. With his tiny mustache tipping the corner of his mouth, a cockeyed cap over dark, disheveled hair, dirty vest and a rope for a belt, Cantinflas became the idol of the masses by satirizing the police and politicians.
As a pioneer in the Mexican film industry, he helped usher in its golden era. His foray into American cinema landed him a Golden Globe® as Best Actor for his role in Around the World in Eighty Days (1956), but his comedic presence shined brightest in his Spanish language films. People everywhere identified with the struggles of this winsome ragamuffin, and when he died in 1993, thousands endured a violent downpour in order to touch his casket as it lay in state. His funeral was a national event, lasting three days and attended by the presidents of Mexico, Peru, and El Salvador, and the United States Senate held a moment of silence for him.
El Gendarme Desconocido (1941, aka The Undercover Policeman)
Cantinflas captures three bandits who had robbed a bank the night before. Considered a hero, Cantinflas is given the title of Agent 777 because of his ability to disguise himself in many different forms. In his ultimate assignment, he transforms himself into a wealthy jewel collector to set up a group of gangsters. The film has a runtime of 108 minutes and is not rated.
Los Tres Mosqueteros (1942, The Three Musketeers)
Cantinflas sneaks into a cabaret where an actress is in the audience. He persuades her to dance with him, but, at the same time, thieves steal her valuable necklace. The actress is grateful when Cantinflas retrieves the necklace. When she invites him to the studio where she is filming The Three Musketeers, he is mistaken for an extra. The film has a runtime of 136 minutes and is not rated.
El Circo (1943, aka The Circus)
Cantinflas is a lowly jack-of-all-trades in a circus. He is infatuated with its glamorous female star, and his hapless bumbling disrupts the performances and the circus falls on hard times. The only thing that can save the circus is a daring trapeze act. Cantinflas volunteers to do the act and is hilarious on the trapeze, creating such a sensation that a wealthy man decides to buy the circus. The film has a runtime of 90 minutes and is not rated.
A Volar Joven (1947)
Cantinflas is a member of the Military Aviation Academy on a 24 hour leave. He goes back to the ranch where he left his sweetheart and his former employers. While there, his employers try to marry him off to their daughter whom he finds unattractive. To avoid having to marry the girl, Cantinflas tries every trick in the book to get himself in trouble. The film has a runtime of 113 minutes and is not rated.
El Mago (1949, aka The Magician)
Cantinflas goes from the streets of Mexico to the fabulous palaces of the Far East. Overnight, he becomes a Caliph, then a magician, then several other fascinating characters, each one providing another facet of Cantinflas’ unique human comedy. The film has a runtime of 100 minutes and is not rated.
Si Yo Fuera Diputado (1952)
Cantinflas stars as the owner of a barber shop, who is studying law with the help of Tio Juan (Andres Soler), once a very successful attorney who is now too ill to practice. Before long, Cantinflas begins his law practice and goes on to win many cases. Eventually he runs for office against the local political machine. The film has a runtime of 95 minutes and is not rated.
El Senor Fotografo (1953, aka Mr. Photographer)
Cantinflas, a photographer, is captured by gangsters while trying to steal flowers for his girlfriend. The gangsters mistake him for the assistant to a scientist who has discovered a formula for a new atomic bomb. Cantinflas convinces the gangsters that a rubber ball he is holding is the real atomic bomb. The film has a runtime of 100 minutes and is not rated.
El Bolero de Raquel (1957)
After arriving late and tipsy to his friend’s funeral, Cantinflas is left in charge of his friend’s son by the widow. Cantinflas and the boy, Chavita, meet Chavita’s teacher, who convinces Cantinflas that he should also go to school. When Cantinflas meets the teacher again they confess their love. The film has a runtime of 101 minutes and is not rated.
El Analfabeto (1961, aka The Illiterate One)
Cantinflas plays a young illiterate who receives a letter informing him that his rich uncle has passed away leaving him a great fortune. However, he’ll need to learn to read and write before understanding the letter. The film has a runtime of 128 minutes and is not rated.
El Padrecito (1964, aka The Little Priest)
Cantinflas stars as the new priest in a town set in its ways. Thinking he is going to take the place of their beloved priest, none of the townspeople like him. While there, he stirs up controversy with his eccentric way of doing things. The film has a runtime of 130 minutes and is not rated.
Su Excelencia (1967, aka His Excellency)
Cantinflas works at the embassy for his native Los Cocos, distributing visas to those wishing to visit his homeland. At this time, the world is divided into two sections: those countries that are red and those that are green. Because both sides are evenly matched and Los Cocos has the deciding vote, Cantinflas becomes the Ambassador of Los Cocos and both sides try to persuade him to join them. The film has a runtime of 133 minutes and is not rated.