The documentary series from ATRESplayer Premium showcases the career highs and lows of the actor who, under the orders of Ozores and together with Esteso, created a subgenre of cinema
Younger readers may only remember Andrés Pajares from the pages of the sensationalist gossip press or his cameo roles in Torrente and Paquita Salas which is one of the reasons why ATRESplayer Premium, in association with Jordi Évole’s production company, El Barrio, have chosen to celebrate the memory and explain the rise and fall of this artistic idol from a black and white Spain who strove to shake off the bonds of dictatorship with the resulting Pajares & CIA; a warts and all defense of a cinematographic subgenre: the destape, literally “the undressing”, referring to the appearance of graphic sex and nudity in mainstream cinema after Franco’s death.
Carlos Torres directs all five episodes in this documentary series (El origen de un mito, La españolada, De la comedia a la tragedia, Ay Pajares and Contigo en la distancia) doesn’t skimp on archive audio or video footage to contextualize a phenomenon that began with Los bingueros, the first film of the acting duo of Andrés Pajares and Fernando Esteso and what resulted in a quick buck for theaters raising almost 200 million of today’s euros from a production that barely cost 15 million. The films, which were to be later referred to as ‘typically Spanish’, bore the signature of screenwriter Mariano Ozores, the behind-the-scenes architect of this huge success (and those that would come later on), with the conviction that cinema theaters are, above all, “rooms that must be filled with bums on seats”.
And this is exactly what Ozores achieved, time and time again with a little help from Andrés Pajares and Fernando Esteso, who furnish the docuseries with a veritable wealth of anecdotes about how the production of this cinema genre, as unconventional as it was fresh with actors even sometimes added impromptu dialogue during dubbing, was always based on the three fundamental pillars of comedy, nudes and a clear social dimension. Several generations of filmmakers, actors and experts (Carmen Maura, Antonio Resines, Concha Velasco, José Sacristán, Javier Gutiérrez, Javier Cámara, María Barranco, Millán Salcedo, Arévalo, Emma Ozores, David Trueba, Bermúdez de Castro, Fernando Colomo, Juan Sanguino, Mabel Galaz, Carolina Iglesias, Rosa Villacastín, Jaime Cantizano and Moisés Rodríguez, among others) accomplish a period portrait with the immense virtue of not resulting either excessively flattering or terribly critical. David Trueba hits the nail on the head when he says, “To young people I would say that the characters of Pajares and Esteso contain the very epitome of this country in which their grandparents grew up and should be seen akin to viewing the caves of Altamira.”
“‘Pajares & CIA’ settles scores with a phenomenon that even though it may not culminate atop the Mount Olympus of the nation’s seventh art’s, does certainly deserve to be revisited.”
No shying away from criticism
In fact, ‘Pajares & CIA’, gracefully nicknamed ‘your folks’ influencers’, makes no bones about facing up to the controversial issues, like the unabashed machismo inherent in the cinema of this genre during the great undressing, where actresses took off their clothes without any narrative excuse, and although many say they didn’t suffer during filming, given that their male counterparts were almost too ashamed to look at them, they had to endure calls of ‘prostitutes’ from certain cinemagoers during screenings.
But the documentary goes beyond the realms of the thread-worn ‘typically Spanish’, which even drew admiration from across the Atlantic with Pajares garnering acclaim from American comedian Mel Brooks and looks at the actors transition from comedy – an art sometimes undervalued as the series demonstrates – to more “prestigious cinema” thanks to ¡Ay Carmela! for which he won the Goya for Best Actor. The production also depicts his fall from grace into the bowels of hell and the psychological damage he suffered after finding himself the focus of celebrity gossip shows, which Pajares referred to as “the most wretched of all programming”. In short, ‘Pajares & CIA’ settles scores with a phenomenon that even though it may not culminate atop the Mount Olympus of the nation’s seventh art’s, does certainly deserve to be revisited.