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Macario (1960)

Poor, hungry peasant Macario longs for just one good meal on the Day of the Dead. After his wife cooks a turkey for him, he meets three apparitions, the Devil, God, and Death. Each asks him... See full summary »


Roberto Gavaldón


B. Traven (story "The Third Guest"), Emilio Carballido (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Ignacio López Tarso ... Macario
Pina Pellicer ... Esposa de Macario
Enrique Lucero ... La muerte
Mario Alberto Rodríguez Mario Alberto Rodríguez ... Don Ramiro
José Gálvez ... El diablo
José Luis Jiménez José Luis Jiménez ... Dios
Eduardo Fajardo ... Virrey
Consuelo Frank ... Virreina
José Dupeyrón José Dupeyrón ... (as Jose Dupeiront)
Celia Tejeda Celia Tejeda ... Chona
Pepé y sus Marionetas Pepé y sus Marionetas


Poor, hungry peasant Macario longs for just one good meal on the Day of the Dead. After his wife cooks a turkey for him, he meets three apparitions, the Devil, God, and Death. Each asks him to share his turkey, but he refuses all except Death. In return, Death gives him a bottle of water which will heal any illness. Soon, Macario is more wealthy than the village doctor, which draws the attention of the feared Inquisition. Written by Elladan <elladan@eskimo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Fantasy | Mystery


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Release Date:

9 June 1960 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Macario See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Clasa Films Mundiales See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA High Fidelity)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The first Mexican Film to be nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film. See more »


Referenced in Una familia de diez: La dieta (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

MACARIO (Roberto Gavaldon, 1960) ***1/2
25 February 2014 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

This was Mexico's first contender for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar (which was also up for the Palme D'Or at Cannes): to be honest, I only became aware of it myself recently while looking for links to "Mexi-Horror" outings on "You Tube" (it is indeed a fantasy but not a scary one, and far from goofy)! In fact, I acquired a copy of this one online that included slightly oversized burnt-in English subtitles. Its viewing followed hard on the heels of THE TRUTH and KAPO', which were the French and Italian entries in the same Academy Awards category – with the only nominee now remaining unavailable (and, consequently, unwatched) being the Yugoslavian competitor THE NINTH CIRCLE. The winner emerged Sweden's THE VIRGIN SPRING – which, like the movie under review, was a fascinating parable; incidentally, both films again found themselves in the running at Cannes, with the Ingmar Bergman title getting a "Special Mention" but the top prize being awarded to Federico Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA.

MACARIO (nothing to do with a lowbrow Italian comic that goes by this very name!) deals with a poor Mexican wood-cutter who, rather selfishly, wishes that he could feed on a turkey but without sharing it with anyone, not even his plentiful family!; to be fair to him, he does go on a hunger strike in protest at the unfairness of the class system! His wife (played by tragic actress Pina Pellicer, best-known for her role in Marlon Brando's ONE-EYED JACKS {1961}) obliges by stealing the bird in question from the wealthy mansion for which she washes the laundry, hiding it even from her husband and then surprising him when he wakes up to go to work the next morning. As he lies down to feast on the turkey, he receives three visits from different men all requesting that they partake of the man's lunch: these obviously symbolize the Devil (appearing in the guise of a bandit), God (a shepherd) and Death (a beggar). Weighing his options, Macario accepts the latter's presence at his 'table' and, in gratitude, is given healing powers…but only to those Death himself indicates!

Soon, the protagonist has his hands full with patients (beginning with his own son, who fell down a well) – to the consternation of the local doctor and undertaker – and, growing increasingly respectable, relocates to a big house in the town centre. Eventually, the Viceroy (played by "Euro-Cult" regular Eduardo Fajardo) comes to call in order to save the life of his own offspring – but Death appears at the head of the bed in his case, the sign that he is not to subsist. Macario tries to persuade him to show mercy (apart from turning the bed around a number of times so as to appear that Death wants the child to be spared after all) – for his own sake at least, since the Inquisition has also turned up determined to expose him as a charlatan or a sorcerer and have the hero burned at the stake! He is, however, given one last chance and asked to point out who from among a cell housing various convicts, and with the public hangman thrown in as a lark, is to make it out alive: when Macario states that all will survive (including one who had been sentenced to death) but the executioner himself, the prosecutors believe they finally got him trapped…but an attendant immediately reports that the man in question has indeed expired from a heart attack and the condemned man has been suddenly reprieved! The downbeat and irony-tinged conclusion, then, takes us back to the all-important turkey-eating deep in the forest…

The narrative's inherent simplicity is countered throughout by the renowned Gabriel Figueroa's expert lighting – perhaps seen to best advantage towards the end when Death invites Macario to his cave where the whole of humanity is represented by burning candles a' la Fritz Lang's DESTINY (1921); interestingly, he would recapture the "Day of the Dead" celebrations – seen here in the film's opening stages – for John Huston's UNDER THE VOLCANO some 24 years later! For the record, the script was based on a novel by the mysterious B. Traven (author of the source material that formed the basis of Huston's own 1948 Oscar-winning classic THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE – coincidentally, too, Traven was born on the very day I watched this)! Besides, the supporting cast includes a number of faces familiar from films Luis Bunuel made during his Mexican tenure. As for director Gavaldon, I ought to mention that I also own but have yet to check out his THE LITTLEST OUTLAW (1955), co- starring Maltese character actor Joseph Calleia. One last thing: judging by the "Critic Reviews" MACARIO gets on the IMDb, it does seem to have a definite cult following – which makes its obscurity to this viewer somewhat baffling; in retrospect, the end result indeed constitutes a minor genre classic worthy of greater exposure.

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