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LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND HER FRIENDS 1961 / 1964 WONDER WORLD OF K GORDON MURRAY DVD-R!

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LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD
AND HER FRIENDS

(1964), Color/Scope, 84 minutes
Distributed by Trans-International Films
Presented by K. Gordon Murray
Produced by K. Gordon Murray
Directed by Manuel San Fernando
Sound Editor: J.R.Remy
Assistant Editor: Charles Guanci
Sound Engineer: Thomas Finucane
Voices: K. Gordon Murray (the Priest)

Original Production:

CAPERUCITA Y SUS TRES AMGIOS

(1961), Mexico, Color/Scope, 90 minutes
a Peliculas Rodriguez, S.A. production
filmed at Churubusco-Azteca Studios
Produced by Roberto Rodriguez
Directed by Roberto Rodriguez
Screenplay: Roberto Rodriguez, Rafael A. Perez
Story: Roberto Rodriguez
Production Manager: Manuel R. Ojeda
Cinematography: Jose Ortiz Ramos
Camera Operators: Ignacio Romero, Hugo Velasco
Alumbrador: Miguel Arana
Editor: Jose W. Bustos
Music: Sergio Guerrero
Songs: Fernando Morales Ortiz, Rafael A. Perez, Sergio Guerrero
Special Effects: Benavides
Sound: James L. Fields
Assistant Director: Mario Llorca
Production Design: Luis G. Rubin
Set Decorator: Gunther Gerzso
Sound Editors: Jesus Gonzalez Gancy, Raul Portillo Gavito
Music Recordist: Galdino Samperio
Voice of “el Zorillo”: Eugenia Avendano
Drama Advisor: Lic. Enrique Ruelas
Costume Design: Bertha Mendoza Lopez
Script Supervisor: Manuel Alcayde
Make-up: Roman Juarez
Hair Stylist: Carmen Marin
Actors Delegate: Francisco Ledesma
Titles: Eduardo Mendoza
Hair Stylist: Josefina Cardenas
Cast Supervisor: Jeses Guerrero
Set Decor: Dario Cabanas
Production Unit: Reforma

Cast: Maria Gracia, “la Nina Mexico” (Caperucita/Little Red Riding Hood), Manuel “Loco” Valdes (El Lobo Feroz/The Ferocious Wolf), Rafael Munoz/El Enanon Santanon (El Zorillo/Stinky the Skunk), Prudencia Griffel (Grandmother), Beatriz Aguirre, Leticia Roo, Guillermo Alvarez Bianchi, Eduardo Alcaraz, Luis Manuel Pelayo, Consuelo Guerrero De Luna, Armando Lujan, Roberto Meyer, nino Enrique Edwards, Elvira Lodi, Edmundo Espino, Alfredo Vergara

 

this special edition has been restored, a big improvement over the crummy VHS tapes we have watched in the past. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in red DVD case wrapped in plastic!

Category:

Description

This second installment in the legendary Mexican “Caperucita” trio is the least seen, and least understood. It is presumed to be a “weak link” between the grandiose original, LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD, and the hallucinatory, malefic LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND THE MONSTERS. Upon inspection, however, we find an affable, lurid, highly psychotronic film, an impressive work nestled between two bizarre Freudian bookends.

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND HER FRIENDS picks up where LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD left off, literally, with the castrated Wolf guarding the society he formerly conspired against, and his companion, Stinky the Skunk, bitching about everything in sight.

Wolfie seems pleased with the “authority” bestowed on him, but Stinky is moaning and groaning the whole time; he sees through the charade clearly, and knows they are being “civilized” by the Villagers to keep them out of the way, and harmless.

The basic theme of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND HER FRIENDS showcases the struggles involved in taming wild beasts to become a civilized part of society. This can be seen as the development of emotional maturity within an individual (the Wolf and the Skunk’s psychological development), or the uneasy but essential pacts made between races or species in a given geographic area (the animals, the gypsies, the villagers).

As any schoolchild knows, it is terribly difficult to be good (some might say even unnatural), and if the rewards are not forthcoming and tangible, there is little or no reason to try at all. One may easily revert back to the beast, which at least has the wherewithal to survive, albeit in a brutish and antisocial fashion.

As the Wolf and Skunk learn, “Law” is the tool with which humans attempt to maintain civility in a society always threatened with man’s more primal urges to destruction and savagery. LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND HER FRIENDS demonstrates that if this sacred trust is corrupted or compromised, anarchy may rise up and revolt.

The Wolf tries to be a good citizen, but Stinky knows its all bunk. The Wolf is first humiliated by Freckles, the Village bad boy. He is then mocked by the Village men. He is further hurt by the revelation that the “pact” he has made with the men of the village is broken, not by him, but by the supposedly superior men!

Men ignore the Wolf’s “authority”. given him in trade for his very life in LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD. Crushed by this betrayal, the Wolf reverts to his bestial self, and in his vicious attack upon the villagers, reminds them of the whole point of encouraging treaties between adversaries; mutual survival!

In addition, scenes which show the Wolf and the Skunk and the Parrot trying in vain to live together shows how difficult it is to live in peaceful cohabitation with others in the same cave (a theme explored further in the exemplary THE QUEEN’S SWORDSMAN). Stinky gets pissed enough to leave at exactly midpoint in the film.

It is then when the Wolf is betrayed by the village men, and shortly after, when he turns “Savage” again, and reverts to his formidable bestial self, with near-deadly results.

This is a very dark segment in an otherwise light-hearted film, a powerful departure which packs quite a punch.

It is clear that the men goad the Wolf into revoking his long-suffering treaty with them; his attack is certainly justified, though no less brutal for that. Is the Wolf’s change of heart triggered also by the departure of his significant other?

The Wolf is an entirely sympathetic character in the thoughtful scenario, and is indeed the hero of this strange and affecting film. He is burdened with a Herculean spiritual challenge, and rises to the occasion honorably.

Stinky likewise has to decide between law and anarchy, but also must choose between self-interest and sacrifice for a friend.

This dichotomy twixt wild and civilized is symbolized also by the entrance of a roving band of gypsies, an ethnic group generally perceived as an emblem of the missing link between civilized man and the animals of the forest.

This recurring symbol of the strange hybrid “human-beast” is echoed even further by the gypsies’ two dogs, who are dressed in silly suits and trained to dance on their hind legs like little humans…

Even Little Red Riding Hood appears tamed in this installment; her wild, seductive hair is hidden within her matronly red hood.

Red reprises her theme song from the first film (although the dubbing voice is distinctly different from that of the first film). Other songs are quite wild, and the Wolf and Stinky’s drunken, dirge-like pity-party called “Friendship” is a stone-cold classic of odd lyrics and inspired dubbing. Oh, Mama! Oy, Papa!

Indeed, “star” Red is all but peripheral in this segment of her story, if anything a Greek Chorus and “deux a machina” to her friends’ spiritual development.

Red’s imminent sexual awakening is addressed in the film, in scenes with Esmerelda, the sexy gypsy girl, who teaches Red the art of erotic dance. Red, being a terminal naif, doesn’t “get it”, but we can see she is watching her mentor carefully, absorbing skills for future use.

Red has a mystical (read: Catholic) intervention in the form of a Fairy Forest (a naturalistic “Virgin Mary” for a society of spiritual paradox).

Red is eventually kidnapped by the gypsies in the middle of the night; as the Wolf has forsaken his “pact” with civilization, so has this group of morally ambiguous nomads. Red is forced to dance erotically for money in public by the mercenary gypsies, in a telling scene which could also be seen as an apt illustration of the exploitation of children by opportunist entrepreneurs like Murray himself.

The first time we see Red as a sexual creature (sleepy eyes, wild smile, lush hair flowing), is when she is rescued from the gypsies by Stinky, and runs through the forest with him looking, at a similar height and gait, like his grateful lover.

The curious, half-formed sexual tension in the film climaxes when Esmerelda kisses her musical boyfriend, and father intervenes. A fight for her honor ensues, and new enemies are made, significantly OVER SEX.

Yet the heart of this picture, a telling speech by the Village Priest, is even more consequential when you realize it was spoken by none other than K. Gordon Murray himself! Did Murray fancy himself a early new-age spiritual leader? Or did he pick this particular dubbing role, TWICE, out of a hat?

“Let us all try to be tolerant and lenient, like St. Francis of Assisi, who so many years ago saw fit to call a wolf his brother! And so my friends, you must do your duty. I think you will agree, we all made a mistake. Let’s hope the wolf can find forgiveness in his heart, so we’ll deserve the grace of God!”

In other words, you can grow all you want, but if your enemy won’t grow with you, you are screwed! A pretty heavy message for a light-hearted kiddie film.

In many ways, LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND HER FRIENDS is less a sequel to LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD and more a precursor to LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND THE MONSTERS. There is not only the highly-developed theme of man vs. monster (brought to fantastic fruition in the third film). There is the “Fairy of the Forest”, a supernatural (i.e. spiritual) character who obscures the boundaries between a fantasy and a religious film, and features pivotally in …MONSTERS (as “Fairy of the Dawn”).

There is also the use of many fanciful interior sets (such as an elaborate cave setting), which are again used in LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND THE MONSTERS. There is even a “Hot Potato” routine used in both films (first with dynamite, then with a liquid H-Bomb!)

Alternately, …FRIENDS uses much of the same gorgeous panoramic landscape as seen in LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD, captured by Jose Ortiz Ramos’ stunning photography. Expansive scenes of our three daring spiritual wanderers traipsing across mountain, field and glen are quite exquisite. Alternately, …MONSTERS is entirely studio-bound, and quite claustrophobic.

The centrality of the town square, and the community festival, is carried over from the first film as well, and many characters, including the silly priest with his weird hat, make appearances.

In short, LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND HER FRIENDS is a conspicuous evolutionary link between the neo-realist sentimentalism of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD and the militant faux-gothic phantasm of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND THE MONSTERS. Where …MONSTERS is overbearing, …FRIENDS is sublime. Where …MONSTERS is blatant, …FRIENDS is obscure; where …MONSTERS is shocking, …FRIENDS is revelatory.

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD AND HER FRIENDS is a true “missing link” film, and one we are fortunate to finally have the opportunity to see.

COMMENTS:
* (effective 05-01-03) After a very brief window of availability, this-long-sought K. Gordon Murray title is once again out of print, due to international copyright issues. Used video tapes of this title may be found on online video dealers and auction sites. Stay tuned for further developments!

* According to the Azteca Films Database, CAPERUCITA Y SUS TRES AMIGOS was finished on February 15, 1960, and premiered on April 20, 1961.

-Rob Craig

 

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