No less an authority than Charlie Chaplin once described Mario ‘Cantinflas‘ Moreno as one of the screen’s best and most loved comedians. Inevitably, the biopics of these men share many similarities, none more so than when Moreno ‘magically’ transforms into his alter-ego. Yet an unwelcome kinship the biopics also share is their inability to translate each star’s humour, made doubly difficult here by the necessity of subtitles.
Whereas Chaplin had a clunky framing device of an editor quizzing the comedian, Cantinflas features an entertaining subplot of Mike Todd trying to produce Around the World in 80 Days. Whatever awkwardness there is in these scenes derives from the quality of acting, in which Michael Imperioli's merely serviceable performance as Todd is matched by his equally sub-par co-stars. Contrasting this is the main body of the movie, which follows Moreno’s career from tent performer to film star. By comparison these are lovingly executed.
Yet Moreno’s comedy, which in large part depended on the verbal gymnastics of Cantinflas confusing his opponents, does not lend itself to non-Spanish speaking audiences. Subsequently, apart from a few visual gags, we are left with an overly melodramatic rags to riches story which fails to engage the audience.
Moreno himself would confide later in life that the language barrier was the primary reason he never became a major Hollywood star.
as Mario Moreno Cantinflas
as Valentina Ivanova
as Elizabeth Taylor
as Miroslava Stern
Cantinflas' first hit, You're Missing the Point, was made in 1940, five years before the formation of Churubusco Studios.
Biopic features many recreations from Moreno’s film career, including You're Missing the Point, Neither Blood nor Sand, The Unknown Police Officer, One Day with the Devil and, of course, Around the World in 80 Days.