Spain / France, 1956 (MIFF 1959, Programme 3)
Director: J. A. Bardem
In Calle Mayor, Bardem continues the austere. intellectualised approach to his material which he established in Death of a Cyclist. Kosma's unusual score, the formal camera movement and sharply drawn characters contribute to the reasoning and tragic impact of the film &ndash: contrived as an attack on the bourgeois hypocrisy of society and effected through a bitterly cruel hoax. The story is set against the enclosed, depressing background of a provincial Spanish town, where Juan, a recent arrival from Madrid, is persuaded to pretend that he has fallen in love with Isabel, a shy despairing spinster. Her lack of fashionable good looks provides a butt for the jibes of the group of irresponsible young men who perpetrate the hoax in an effort to relieve the tedium of their daily lives. Their intention is to reveal the truth to Isabel at the couple's engagement party. Isabel's simple joy and regard for Juan play on his conscience, and in moral cowardice, he leaves his friend, Federico, to confront Isabel, and Isabel to face the derision of the town.