This movie actually came out in 1981; not 1980. That was the year which was touted "The Year of Divorce" in Spain. Up to that point, divorce was not legal in this country. There was a lot of talk that it would be allowed by year's end (or by the next year). Naturally there were at least some Spaniards who were opposed to this landmark change. In ¿DÓNDE ESTARÁ MI NIÑO? (WHERE CAN MY SON BE?), I could hear these critics of divorce loud and clear.
Interestingly enough, I did not get much encouragement from other Spaniards about seeing this movie. I was an American exchange student at the University of Sevilla, Spain at the time. I was told by some college students that the star of this movie---Manolo Escobar------was a "has-been" singer, who was being given a second chance with this movie. The students also told me that the movie itself was quite "bad".
Be that as it may, I liked this movie a great deal! I overlooked their discouraging words because I knew that comic actor Antonio Garisa was in the cast. I loved him in HIJOS DE PAPÁ, another comedy which came out this same year. He did not disappoint me in ¿DÓNDE ESTARÁ MI NIÑO? either. I liked Antonio Garisa so much, that during my Easter break at the University, I made a trip to Madrid and saw Garisa perform live in a play: LA CASA DESHABITADA. By that time I was hooked, as a Garisa fan.
To give you a little background about this movie. It is described at this web site as a Comedy/Musical. I would say that it is a comedy with a few songs done by Manolo Escobar. I would then go one step further, and say that it is actually a comedy/drama.
Escobar's character is a man (also a professional singer) who has remained in touch with one of his ex-lovers who works in a retail store. He has befriended her son, who is less than ten years old. He and his ex-lover's son actually do a few things together (similar to what many American men do, when they volunteer for the Big Brothers organization.). He is totally unaware, however, that this young boy is HIS SON. The boy's mother does not tell Escobar's character this, because she is convinced that he does not love her (and she does not want him to feel "tied down", if he indeed has no feelings for her). Though generally a good man, we do see one scene where he reduces his ex-lover to tears via an insensitive remark (in all fairness, he probably would not have made that remark had he known that he was the father of her child).
Eventually it becomes too much of a burden for this woman to keep her secret entirely to herself. Though she does not tell Escobar the truth, in a weak moment she tells an older couple (friends or relatives of Escobar's character) that he is the boy's father (Antonio Garisa plays the husband of this older couple). Escobar has actually brought the boy into this older couple's home, several times. They have fed the boy, entertained him and looked after him. Garisa's character has even told the young boy:
"Llámame papá!!" ("Call me father"-----though grandfather would be more appropriate, given his and his wife's age).
The boy is a natural actor and delivers his lines so well; especially in scenes where he gets a bit smart with the wife from the older couple (played by Rafaela Aparicio, an extremely famous Spanish actress from screen, stage, radio and vaudeville; she appeared in 100 movies, in a career that spanned 60 years). When he gets fed up with her insistence that he take numerous baths, while in her home, he tells her:
"¡¡Pero es que soy moreno!!" ("But I'm telling you!.........I'm brown!!"----and we're not talking "Hispanic" brown here; this kid is not particularly dark).
Once Antonio Garisa's character is aware that the young boy is Escobar's son, he decides to take the bull by the horns and test the unsuspecting father. He tells Escobar that he is coming out of the closet as someone who had a son out of wedlock, and totally abandoned him (none of this is true, as he is just testing him). Escobar then angrily and piously gives Garisa a dressing down about how terrible he has been. Garisa, in mock shame, just goes along with this, and sheepishly pretends to be repentant. He surprises Escobar, however, when he tells him:
"You're wrong about the age that you guessed my son to be; he's younger than thirty or forty"
"Well twenty years old then?!?", Escobar asks.
"No; younger than that!"
By now Escobar is nearly shocked because Garisa is in his sixties. Garisa finally gives the boy's age as the same age as Escobar's son.
Later on, when the time is right, Garisa turns the tables and confronts Escobar that he has unwittingly been guilty of the exact same thing that he (Escobar) accused him of. He refers to the night when the young boy was conceived as "¡aquella noche loca!" (that crazy night!). He is also pounding a shot gun, on the floor, repeatedly, as he angrily and hilariously puts Escobar in his place. Garisa's character thinks the gun is empty. He is shocked however (and he shocks the whole house), when the gun goes off and blows a bullet through the ceiling! Rafaela Aparicio's character (his wife), hilariously runs downstairs, unhinged, unglued and SCREAMING after hearing the shot! (no one is hurt, of course)
Without totally giving away the movie, the film's only weakness is that it greatly oversimplifies the obstacles, that Escobar and his ex-lover have to overcome, once he learns that the boy is his son.........but I loved it anyway. I think we have all enjoyed movies which sugar coat reality.
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