Prologue:let's put it straight.Betsy Blair is miscast.Is this because she played Borgnine's so called ugly girl in the Oscar-winning "Marty" (1955)?Perhaps so ,but her beaming face ,her luminous smile,her intense longi...展开ng for happiness are anything but unattractive .She's not Ava Gardner,by a long shot,but she easily outshines her would be handsome lover.
Prologue 2:Is it possible,considering the high rating of "calle mayor",that nobody -Spanish users,get a life!It's your culture!- felt like writing about this unfairly overlooked gem? "Calle Mayor" (Grand Rue,Hauptstrasse,Main Street)is the place where ,in a provincial town,people meet,talk and wait.All a woman has to do , Tonia says ,is wait wait wait ,behind her window,at the ball,or on "calle mayor".Isobel has been waiting for eighteen years for a man,because,in the fifties in Spain (and in Europa as well),the only way a woman had is marriage.Or she would become a wallflower and a spinster.
"Calle mayor" is a trap :the omnipresence of religion can be felt here there and everywhere ,with the church bells marking out the hours in a town that has stood still for years,with the nuns pacing up and down the street ,asking for a few pesetas more for their good works.A group of men ,not so young anymore,is searching for something to do.A good joke would be nice to kill time :so they ask one of them to pretend he's in love with Isobel ,the thirty-five year old woman-at the time,it was much too late !-.Isobel begins to live in a dream,and the buck cannot bring himself to tell her the truth (out of pity?he does not know himself)..I say it again,Betsy Blair,although excellent was not the right choice :first she's not Spanish ,and mainly she 's not ugly .So it does not always work well,because,if we were in the man's shoes,we would fall in love head over heals with her.But this must not prevent you from watching Juan Bardem's sensitive work:his depiction of the provincialism is absorbing , the sad landscapes on the edge of town or this little railway station where the tragedy is resolved are masterfully filmed.
Juan Bardem was a committed artist.He was arrested before he finished "Calle Mayor" and later he produced Bunuel's masterpiece "Viridiana".It's really too bad that ,now that Spanish cinema triumphs again with Amenabar ,Bardem's name should be virtually forgotten.