The Skeleton of Mrs. Morales (1960)

THE SKELETON OF MRS. MORALES (1960)
aka El Esqueleto de la senora Morales
Article 2273 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-12-2007
Posting Date: 11-2-2007
Directed by Rogelio A. Gonzalez
Featuring Arturo de Cordova, Amparo Rivelles, Elda Peralta

A taxidermist is mercilessly manipulated by his cruel wife, who puts on a show of oppressed martyrdom while doing everything in her power to make her husband’s life miserable. When he finally has his fill, he makes plans for a macabre revenge.

The horror elements aren’t the main thrust of the story here, but they’re there all the same, especially when you consider the husband’s job and the title of the movie. It’s really a rendering of that crime subgenre about the “perfect murder”, and it is a delicious piece of black comedy to boot. It spends a good two-thirds of its running time dealing with the wife’s cruel treatment of the husband, and of her ability to make everyone see her as the victim in the process. This is essential for the story to work; our sympathies are with the husband and must remain so even when he enacts his ghastly revenge, and it helps establish the characters of the various people manipulated by the wife, including a local priest, two biddies from next door, and her siblings. The setup of the perfect crime is brilliant, in that the husband uses his wife’s own wiles to clear himself, while setting up a situation where the most damning piece of evidence against him actually works to his benefit. The movie is not for the squeamish; we get to see just enough of the taxidermist at work to put us on edge. The movie is filled with great performances, but neither the movie credits nor IMDB attach character names to the actors, and outside of a comment saying that Arturo de Cordova plays Mr. Morales (and gives an excellent performance), I don’t know who plays what. It’s all deliciously entertaining, and highly recommended. My two favorite moments are when Dr. Morales finally gives in to his wife’s perpetual request to wash his hands with alcohol, and to the ending, where we learn once again that there is no such thing as a perfect crime.

 

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