Few actors or actresses can boast of having left their mark on the everyday speech of their audience. And if they are Spanish, even less. Therefore, even without disdaining the merit of the expression “make an Antonio Resines”, we can say that Alfredo Landa He left testimony to his talent (and his stamina) by helping to coin a term that should have been in the dictionary of the Royal Academy for a long time.
That term, of course, is “landism”. A word that should be remembered today, on the tenth anniversary of the actor’s death, because it says a lot about the past of our cinema… and our historical past, too. All this through a trail of films that, as Landa himself recognized, used to be of debatable quality.
We talk about thick comedies, with a humor based on the misunderstandings and gags of clubbing and groping. Which, in addition, used to tempt the public with exhibitions of female anatomy (as far as censorship allowed) and then post an extremely conservative moral. Which, in their best moments, does not prevent them from continuing to be hilarious.
The invasion of the Swedish in bikini
How did Alfredo Landa become the face of this phenomenon? To understand it we must remember that the actor was a virtuoso of comedy. Already in his first important role, as a secondary in heist at three (1962), Landa proved to be able to share the screen with Manuel Aleixandre, Gracita Morales and a huge Jose Luis Lopez Vazquez without detracting in the least.
Let us also bear in mind that the rise of Alfredo Landa in Spanish cinema coincides in time with the developmentalism. We are talking about that period in which Franco’s Spain finally came out of the misery of the 40s and 50s, relying both on its alliance with the United States (things from the Cold War) and on the rise of tourism. Also rehearsing, facing the gallery, rather hypocritical attempts at social openness.
The (false) relaxation of censorship, the gradual accommodation to the consumer society and the arrival of legions of foreigners in search of cheap entertainment joined together to give rise to that delirious country x-rayed by louis carandell in his book Celtiberia Show. The SEAT 600 as a vehicle, the apartment in a newly built neighborhood as a home, and the tourist with relaxed customs (preferably Swedish) as an erotic myth were the pillars of his imagination.
The films of landism
All these elements were being seen in the Spanish cinema of the late 1960s, with Alfredo Landa as the emblematic face. Between 1967 and 1970, our man appeared in films such as Boyfriends 68, 40 degrees in the shade and Those who have to serve directed by specialists in the genre such as Pedro Lazaga, Mariano Ozores and a Jose Maria Forqué that adapted as it could to the evolution of the industry.
In 1969, Once a year being a hippy doesn’t hurt (of Javier Aguirre) and Why is your husband cheating on you? (Manuel Summers) cemented Landa’s image as the epitome of a short gentleman whose unattractive physique (some would say “racial”) materialized the metamorphosis of the Spain of the botijo and the hoe in that new country where things were paid in installments and some girls (few, and always under disapproving glances) went around in miniskirts.
The real explosion came in 1970, and his name was You will not want the neighbor from the fifth. The movie of Ramon Fernandez, written by the nefarious Juan Jose Alonso Millan, It was still a farce full of homophobic jokes centered on the character of Landa, a couturier who pretends to be homosexual to get intimate with girls. In his memories, our hero was not shy about pointing out that she seemed “badder than Fu-Manchu.” And he was right.
However, despite its lack of quality and the problems with censorship, You will not wish… swept the box office with 177 million pesetas of collection compared to 17 of the budget and a public figure that was close to five million viewers. That opened the floodgates for movies that followed his example, using Alfredo Landa’s face as a lure to fill theaters. All of them, let us point out, shot with minimal resources and at marathon speed.
Emigration to prosperous Europe (Come to Germany, Pepe!), the rise of the spaghetti western in Almería (Come to flirt to the West), the indebtedness of the middle class (Don’t sign any more letters, honey) or the pool awarded as golden fleece (Jenaro the 14) were some of the issues addressed by our hero in the dozens of movies which he starred in for years to come.
Also, as we already anticipated, many of those tapes pointed directly to the sexual repression of the average Spaniard. Some of them, like The days of Cabirio and Manolo the night, tensed their suspension of disbelief by imagining for Landa a successful gigolo career. there they take her Richard Gere and paul schrader, of course.
Why did landismo end?
That all trends come to an end is an impeccable law, and both the Tiktok virals and the cinematographic explosions of stale Spain must submit to it. In the case of landism, the factors that led to its extinction were the end of censorship and the ambition of Landa himself to disenfranchise.
Starting in 1977, cinemas finally had room for films of an openly erotic nature, under the famous S classification. In this way, producers no longer needed to shoot funny comedies to attract viewers by promising them risqué scenes. That same year, moreover, Landa appeared in the bridge, of Juan Antonio Bardem, a film that showcased his own archetype of an outgoing worker with no other ideology than feeling thighs and winning pools.
In 1979, to top it off, Andres Pajares and Fernando Esteso they swept the box office with the bingueros under the direction of a Mariano Ozores who, as we can see, did not miss one. A new type of humor had broken into Spanish billboards, much less subtle than that of late Francoism, which would set the tone for a good part of the 1980s.
This cinematographic transition, which ran parallel to politics, can be appreciated in the career of an Alfredo Landa who alternated films such as Story of ‘S’, Magic Powder and Professor Eroticus (titles say it all) with the green meadows and the two deliveries of The crack. Three films directed by a Jose Luis Garcia in top form that showed his versatility, either as a stressed-out executive or as a German Areta, the most detective hard boiled of our cinema
Does the end of landism have an official date? Well yes: on May 23, 1984, when Landa took the podium cannes film festival to collect his trophy for Best Actor, ex aequo with Paco Rabal, by The innocent saints. A victory that stung the actor, who claimed not to have picked up the trophy alone because of the wiles of Pilar Miro, but that marked a before and after in his career.
Even so, landism had an unexpected epilogue on TV. We talk about Full, please, a series created by Vicente Escrivá and broadcast in 1993 where the actor played an extremely attractive gas station driver (and married to Beatriz Carvajal) which could be the evolution of his usual character in the 70s. Only, if some titles of land cinema can be reviewed today, that show is completely unspeakable… unless you have the stomach to put up with Micky Molina.
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