La ciudad no es para mí [The City Isn’t for Me] (Spain 1965; dir. Pedro Lazaga)

Directed by Pedro Lazaga and released in 1965, La ciudad no es para mí is a light-hearted melodrama that, not unlike other films of the mid-dictatorship, continues an existing cinematic tradition of using ‘the generic confines of a popular comedy’ to explore more serious aspects of urban life in the Spanish capital (Larson 2012: 123). Heralded as the ‘most commercially successful Spanish film of the 1960s’ (Richardson 2002: 72), it features noted actor Paco Martínez Soria in the role of a rural-dwelling Spaniard who, unannounced, comes to live with his successful and modern son and the latter’s family in Madrid. The first five minutes of the black-and-white film – while they do not even introduce the central paleto character – thrust the spectator into quite a dynamic representation of the nature of urban life (see also Richardson 2002: 76-77). The two buildings clustered around Madrid’s Plaza de España that can be seen in the clip are the Torre de Madrid (when it was built the highest building in Europe?) and Edificio España.

The script reads [I just taught this clip in an undergraduate class, and its staccato, machine-gun fire styled narration was met with quite a few expressions of disbelief]:

Madrid, capital de España: dos millones seiscientos cuarenta y siete mil doscientos cincuenta y tres habitantes. Crecimiento vegetativo: ciento veintinueve personas cada día. Población flotante: trescientas sesenta mil quinientas ochenta personas. Cuatrocientos setenta y dos mil quinientos veintisiete vehículos. Ciento diez mil ochocientos cincuenta y tres baches y socavones. Un nacimiento cada cuarenta y cinco segundos. Dos bodas y media por hora. Y una defunción cada minuto y medio. Y bancos, muchos bancos – bueno de estos no, de estos ya no quedan. Y supermercados, muchísimos supermercados. Y casas, casas en construcción, montañas de casas en construcción. Y farmacias, toneladas de farmacias. Y zona azul, kilómetros de zona azul. Y multas, demasiadas multas. Esta es una ciudad donde todo hay que hacerlo muy de prisa.

[Madrid, the Spanish capital: two million, six hundred forty-seven thousand, two hundred and fifty-three inhabitants. Natural [population] increase: one hundred twenty-nine people per day. Floating population: three hundred and sixty thousand, five hundred and eighty people. Four hundred seventy-two thousand, five hundred twenty-seven vehicles. One hundred ten thousand, eight hundred fifty-three bad spots and potholes. One birth every forty-five seconds. Two and a half weddings per hour. And a death every minute and a half. And banks, lots of banks – well not these, there are no more of these left [pun on banco=bank and banco=bench–the city is so active there’s no time for people to sit down…]. And supermarkets, plenty of supermarkets. And housing, housing under construction, mountains of housing under construction. And pharmacies, tons of pharmacies. And restricted parking zones, kilometers of restricted parking zones. And parking tickets, far too many parking tickets. This is a city where one must accomplish everything very quickly]. (Lazaga 1965: 2’18”-3’53”)

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