The Immortal Ranchero Your Abuelita And I Still Fantasize About

People might not know who Frida Kahlo is, but I bet there’s no single Mexican who doesn’t know who Pedro Infante was.

I was six when my mother made me watch The Three Huastecos, an old, black-and-white movie I couldn’t care less about. The film tells the story of a set of triplets separated at birth after their parents' death in the three regions of the Huasteca in Mexico. The movie made me develop a crush on the actor playing all three brothers, a man who became an icon of the golden age of Mexican cinema, and a cultural legend after his untimely death. 

I’m talking about Pedro Infante, who people, to this day, swear never died; a man who still makes us swoon with his down-to-earth and charismatic persona. His importance went beyond cinema, entertainment, or even culture: he became the symbol of a national identity everybody could relate to. 


With a humble upbringing in Guamúchil, Sinaloa (northern Mexico), Infante was always surrounded by music. His father was a music teacher and violinist who rarely had enough to feed his multiple children. With the help of his wife, who worked as a seamstress, and Pedro, who started working at a very young age, the family managed to survive in the difficult post-revolution times of the twentieth century. 

It wasn't until he moved to Mexico City with a dream of becoming a great musician that the legend was born. After struggling to get jobs, he finally got an opportunity to perform at XEB, the most important radio company at the time. From then on, he quickly became Mexico’s all-time favorite actor. Not only did he have an amazing voice, but also his charisma and approachability made people feel like he was one of them. If you want to see why your abuelita and millions of Mexicans are still obsessed with him, take a look at his most memorable and emblematic films.


Los tres huastecos (The Three Huastecos) [1948]

Of course, we’re going to start with the movie that made me love “Pedrito,” as I like to call him. As I mentioned before, it tells the story of a set of triplets who are raised in different states of the Huasteca region. Lorenzo is a macho ranchero who solves everything with his gun, but at the same time, he has a noble heart that belongs to his equally aggressive little daughter, Tucita. Juan de Dios, as his name suggests, becomes a priest and the one who basically solves all his brothers’ problems. And Víctor is a captain in the army who falls hard for a local girl. Everything gets complicated when Lorenzo is accused of being the bandit who's been making trouble in town. 

Nosotros los pobres (We The Poor) + Ustedes los ricos (You The Rich) [1947-1948]

Perhaps his most memorable work is what’s come to be known as the Pepe “El Toro” Trilogy. Honestly, the last movie, called Pepe el Toro is not good, but the first two are Mexican cinema classics. The movies tell the story of Pepe, a young carpenter (like Pedro Infante in his childhood and early youth) who tries to bring up his family in an honest way. Despite all his efforts, life is determined to test him constantly with tons of dramatic moments in the busy and complicated life of Mexico City in the 1940s. 


A toda máquina (Full Speed Ahead) [1951]

A homeless man determined to change his life decides to take a motorcycle driving test to join the police academy. There, he meets a man tired of abusive people who only approach him for his money and is looking for a real and honest friendship. They bond quite soon and end up living together. However, their competitive nature and a set of misunderstandings will put their friendship to the test through a very funny feud. 

Dos tipos de cuidado (Two Guys To Be Afraid Of) [1952]

Two best friends end up hating each other after a terrible misunderstanding regarding the woman one of them loves. A few years later, they meet again and cause a terrible commotion in their hometown. Paired with Jorge Negrete, this film finally got everyone's two favorite rancheros together in an epic comedy considered by many one of the first Mexican gay movies. Gay or not, it’s one film you really have to watch to understand the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema.


Tizoc [1957]

With a lot of international praise, Tizoc brought Pedro Infante together with another great legend of the time, María Félix. The film tells the story of Tizoc, an indigenous trapper known for his skills. His normal life gets disrupted when he meets a beautiful creole woman who looks exactly like the Virgin of Guadalupe. Of course, they eventually fall for each other, exposing the class and racial differences on which society is still based. Pedro Infante won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the Berlin Film Festival, and the film won Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes.

With over 60 movies, Pedro Infante was at the peak of success when one sad April morning of 1957, the country woke up to the news that Infante had died in a plane crash. Millions gathered to mourn and say goodbye to their star, to the point that to this day his tomb in Mexico City and his hometown get crowded on his birthday and death anniversary. For decades, people believed he hadn’t died, and they were right in a way: his image is still quite strong in a country of people who saw themselves and their dreams portrayed in this charismatic ranchero.


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