This post is inspired in the “Lost and Found” series of film that TCM presented a while ago. But in this case, it is about a film that I’m sure that they will never dare to show.
In 1937 a new production company was established in Argentina, Pampa Film. In order to do it, wool businessman Olegario Ferrando reached an agreement with Warner Bros. Pictures, which provided some financing and would release the films.
Their first film was LA FUGA, no classic but a fascinating piece of undecided storytelling that makes it constantly switch from a crime movie to a silly comedy, including doses of melodrama and suspense. Although it was filmed at the Lumiton studios, the film looks and feels more than a Warner Bros. production from Burbank than an Argentine film from Munro.
Still, it was extremely successful and Warner announced the upcoming release of Pampa’s following films. But when the second film was about to be released, Ferrando terminated his association and Pampa released its films itself.
This put LA FUGA in a limbo and for many years the film was considered lost.
In the early 1990s the film finally emerged in a virtually complete version, only missing the opening WB. Logo. A cable TV company called Imagen Satelital that, then, was small and wanted to put on the air classic Argentine films in the best possible versions (but not spending money to do it), recovered the film.
Sadly, instead of putting money to prepare a telecine, they either got a mediocre video or chained it in a poor fashion. Like most classic Argentine films, the film is a painful torture watch and it is an insult that these practices continue to this day.
I want to share with you the two most memorable moments of the film. First, here is a link to see the opening credits and the first minutes. The credits sequence is fascinating and Pacific Title did a memorable job here:
And this is the most famous scene of the entire film (which is no spoiler): Tita Merello performs a tango called “Niebla del Riachuelo” specifically written for the film by Juan Carlos Cobián and Enrique Cadícamo, which she didn’t commercially recorded until almost 30 years later. That version is fine… this one is totally spoiled for being chained (and I did try to repair the sound as well here):
Imagen Satelital, which created the master tape, was later bought by the Venezuelan Cisneros group and renamed it as Claxon. Under this name, the company expanded relegating the classic Argentine films to obscure hours in the morning.
Last year, with most of their own channels flopping in Latin America, Turner Broadcasting bought Claxon and its channels (Space, Retro, I-Sat, Infinito, etc.) and everything they have.
This means that Warner Bros. managed to get a version of LA FUGA for the first time in 70 years. But, not surprisingly, they keep putting on the air this lousy version instead of going back to film elements.
But if TCM ever shows this film that could be great.
Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.