El Aguila real [The Royal Eagle] aka Santo y la Tigresa en el águila real

(Prods. Raúl Portillo-Luis Quintanilla, 1971) Exec Prod: Luis Quintanilla; Dir: Alfredo B. Crevenna; Scr: Raúl Portillo; Story: Luis Quintanilla, Raúl Portillo; Photo: Rosalío Solano; Music: Gustavo César Carreón [sic]; Assoc Prod: Angel González M.; Prod Chief: Alberto Ferrer; Asst Dir: Mario Llorca; Film Ed: Rafael Ceballos; Art Dir: Roberto Silva; Camera Op: Urbano Vázquez; Animal Trainer: Mike Ortega; Makeup: Margarita Ortega; Sound Ed: Raúl Portillo; Re-rec: Enrique Rodríguez

Mexico City release: February 1973; 2 week run; Authorization: A

Spanish release data (under the title: El enmascarado de plata): Authorization date: 7 July 1981; Rating: all audiences; Total spectators: 11,815 (lowest of all Santo films released in Spain)

CAST: Santo (himself), Irma Serrano (Irma Morales), Jorge Lavat (Manuel Villafuerte), Dacia González (Alicia), Juan Gallardo (Raimundo), Soledad Acosta (Paloma), Carlos Suárez (Carlitos), Fernando Osés (henchman), Jorge Patiño ("Alejandro"--Julio Morales), Domingo Bazán (giant), Mario García "Harapos" (Juanito), Carlos León (guest at fiesta), Guillermo Gálvez (neighboring hacendado at fiesta), Inés Murillo (Felisa), Angela Rodríguez, Eugenia Ramírez, Ismael Ramírez, Ernesto Juárez

NOTES: More than 10 years after she had made her debut in Santo's first Mexican feature, Santo contra los zombies, Irma Serrano was teamed again with the silver-masked man. By 1971, Serrano had become famous (or notorious) as the alleged mistress of a Mexican president, had appeared in numerous films (although her career had stalled, possibly due to an unofficial, politically-motivated blacklist), and was also making a name for herself as a singer. She had also had plastic surgery on her nose and had re-made her image considerably.

El Aguila real is a combination ranchera and old house-mystery, and Santo seems rather out of place in the nominal hero's role. There is one arena wrestling scene, rather awkwardly inserted, but otherwise he's just a strong guy with a mask dropped into a rural milieu where few of the people recognize him (so much for his widespread fame).

Much of the film was shot on location, and the actual hacienda and environs are interesting and attractively presented. The technical aspects of the film are satisfactory, except that a fair number of the scenes seem too dark (perhaps a problem with the video transfer on the version I saw). Carlos Suárez is the comic "relief," not something he was ideally suited for (he gets his own little "funny" musical theme), but his scenes aren't as painful as those he shares with Arturo Cobo in Chanoc y el Hijo del Santo contra los vampiros asesinos. The rest of the cast is adequate.

This film probably wins some sort of prize for the most animals killed (in actuality or implied) in a film that has nothing to do with hunting or nature. To enumerate: a horse and rider fall down a steep slope (the horse takes a VERY rough fall), a cat is poisoned (this scene is undercut by the fact that the cat obviously ISN'T dead at all, despite what the actors say!), a rabbit is shot (for real), a snake is attacked by the titular eagle (for real), dogs are killed (off-screen), there is a real cockfight (Santo gets to keep the dead loser), and the titular eagle is put in a sack and smacked against a wall (apparently to no effect, since it's seen, safe and sound, at the end of the movie).

A final note about the actual title of this picture: the opening credits read "Santo y la Tigresa/Irma Serrano, la Tigresa/en El Aguila Real" (on three separate cards). So the "official" title from the film itself seems to be El Aguila Real, but reference books often list it as Santo y el águila real, and the video version I saw has Santo y la Tigresa on the box.

After Raimundo, foreman on the hacienda owned by Irma Morales, finishes a song, he is given a telegram to send. The message is relayed to Santo on his car phone: Irma, the daughter of an old (now deceased) friend of Santo, needs his help in a matter of life or death. "Goodbye, vacation," Santo's sidekick Carlitos complains. At Irma's hacienda, she explains that her brother died 3 months ago in a fall; since then, there have been two attempts on her life. She thinks her neighbors covet her land and want to get her out of the way.

That night, Santo, Irma and Carlitos go to a cockfight. Irma's rival is Manuel Villafuerte, one of her neighbors. Manuel encourages his wife (?girlfriend) Paloma to engage in a singing "duel" with Irma: they alternate improvised verses, insulting each other (one of Paloma's verses says Santo must wear a mask because he's so ugly!). Irma's rooster kills Manuel's bird, earning her a large sum of money. However, outside the palenque (cockfight arena), Irma and Santo are attacked by three thugs. The men are driven off by Santo's wrestling prowess and the whip-wielding Irma.

The next day, Irma and Santo are horseback riding when her horse is struck with a poison dart (intended for her). Santo finds a long strand of hair on a nearby bush, and later sends it off for analysis. At dinner, Santo thinks the wine smells odd: tested on a cat, it proves to have been poisoned. After everyone has gone to bed, someone enters Santo's room and tries to stab him. After a fight, the assailant is exposed as Raimundo, who was jealous of Santo's relations with Irma. No sooner has Raimundo been locked up than Santo hears a noise outside and goes to investigate. He's attacked by a long-haired hunchback and a tall guy, also with long hair. Santo is knocked out, but Irma's pet eagle swoops in and drives the hunchback and the giant away. The long-haired duo hides in their lair, in the cellars beneath the hacienda.

Santo wrestles in a tag-team match for charity (footage of an actual match is included, with inserts of Carlitos and Irma cheering him on). Back at the hacienda, they discover that Irma's guard dogs have been killed (although later we hear dogs barking, so perhaps she got some more).

Later, while Santo and Irma are out hunting, Carlitos gets lost and strays onto a neighboring ranch. He's about to be strung up as a cattle thief, when Irma shoots the rope and Santo defeats the men (oddly enough, although one of the 3 men is Fernando Osés, he does not engage in the fight with Santo--only the other two men do).

The hunchback puts a poisonous snake in Irma's bed, but her eagle saves her. Later, a big flower pot falls and nearly crushes Santo and Irma. This hacienda is not a healthy place to visit, apparently. Finally, Santo finds the entrance to the hunchback's underground lair: the long-haired hunchback is actually Alejandro, a bald hunchback who works on the hacienda (that wig was a good disguise, apparently). He and his giant associate attack Santo, get him VERY dirty, and finally whack him with a shovel and leave him for dead.

Alejandro and the giant, after stuffing Irma's eagle into a gunny sack, plan to kill Irma. Alejandro explains, at length: he is really her uncle Jorge, her father's brother, who was the black sheep of the family. The giant is Irma's half-brother, the son of her father and Felisa, a servant on the hacienda. Because he was "deformed" (he doesn't look it, although he is apparently somewhat mentally challenged), this illegitimate offspring was locked up in the hacienda's cellars for 20 years. Now, Jorge says that he will control the hacienda (through the giant) when Irma is dead. He starts to strangle Irma, who calls to her half-brother for help. For some reason, the giant decides he WILL help, and is shot dead by Jorge for changing sides. Before he dies, the giant squeezes Jorge to death. And then, when it's all over, Santo comes in!

As the film ends, Santo and Carlitos promise to come back and visit Irma (and Alicia, her maid, whom Carlitos has been flirting with).

Not a bad film, per se, but fairly atypical and thus not one of the better Santos.

Back to the Santo Filmography.

Review posted by dwilt@umd.edu on 16 Feb 98. Updated 19 January 2000.