RT Archives

Cine-Mundial: The Magazine that Brought Hollywood Into the Hands of Spanish Speakers

Learn about the history of the game-changing publication, read some of its Spanish-language reviews of the history's biggest movies, and see some of its most striking covers!

by and | September 20, 2019 | Comments

(Photo by The Library of Congress via Internet Archive)

Rotten Tomatoes is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: First with The 100 Essential Spanish-Language Films, and now a spotlight on the luminous cinema magazine once dedicated to the Golden Age of Hollywood.

In the early days of the movie business, dozens of trade and fan magazines sprouted up in an attempt to cater to the near insatiable thirst for information that the cinema inspired. For Spanish-speaking fans, Cine-Mundial was a godsend. Founded in 1916 as an offshoot of the trade magazine Moving Picture World, the New York-based Cine-Mundial quickly established an identity of its own, and in doing so, “positioned Spanish-speaking readers as an integral rather than peripheral audience for films,” wrote Rielle Navitski in the book Cosmopolitan Film Cultures in Latin America, 1896-1960.

Cine-Mundial began as an attempt to capitalize on the growing Spanish-speaking audience in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. Within a few years, the magazine shifted its focus from a trade paper to a fan magazine, with celebrity interviews, glossy photo spreads, witty columnists, and eye-popping front covers. In particular, Jose M. Recoder’s striking pastel celebrity portraits graced the front of the magazine frequently in the 1930s and early 1940s.

Cine-Mundial’s rise coincided with the Hollywood celebrity of Mexican stars like Dolores del Río, Ramón Novarro, and Lupe Vélez, and came at a moment when notable directors like Sergei Eisenstein (Que Viva Mexico!) and Fred Zinneman (Redes) shot films in Mexico. (In addition, some studios concurrently made English and Spanish versions of certain films, the best example being the well-regarded Spanish version of Dracula.) With correspondents in Mexico City, Havana, Buenos Aires, and Madrid, Cine-Mundial featured detailed chronicles of local filmmaking scenes and popular movie theaters.

One of Cine-Mundial’s most venerable contributors was Elena de la Torre. Originally from Spain, she wrote a syndicated movie column in which she was an outspoken advocate for women both in front of and behind the camera. Eventually settling in Los Angeles with her husband Miguel de Zárraga (himself a contributor to Cine-Mundial), she was arguably the magazine’s most prominent critical voice. In addition to her work with Cine-Mindial, De la Torre also contracted with Fox to evaluate Spanish-language books for potential movie projects.

While Moving Picture World ceased publication in 1927, Cine-Mundial held on for two more decades before closing its doors in 1948. By that point, homegrown film industries in Mexico and Argentina were peaking creatively and commercially, holding firm on their own turf against Hollywood fare. But over the course of its three decade run, Cine-Mundial demonstrated the strength and passion of the Spanish-speaking audience while documenting the rise of regional Latin-American cinema.

(Photo by The Library of Congress via Internet Archive)

Read Cine-Mundial on Some of the 20th Century’s Most Seminal Films

Here’s what Cine-Mundial had to say about classic movies (the full reviews are in Spanish):

  • City Lights (1931): “However bad a Charlie Chaplin movie may be, it will always be better than a hundred [other films] entrusted to others… A very likable movie, but it’s not extraordinary.” – Francisco J. Ariza, January 1931
  • Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1959): “Superior to the precedents of the same character, embodies all possible technical perfections… and all photography refinements and handling of large masses  that made the great famous biblical photodramas…Other films will come later, perhaps, to touch upon identical issues and offer them to new audiences; but they won’t be better for the simple reason that Ben-Hur exhausted the elements of the cinema and, has upon reaching the summit, put up a barrier to whatever comes later.” – Francisco J. Ariza, February 1944
  • Gaslight (1944): “The adjective ‘monumental’ will seem inappropriate for a movie, but we don’t have another one at hand that satisfies us… We doubt that any artist can beat Ingrid Bergman as a candidate for this year’s Academy Award.” – Elena de la Torre, February 1944
  • Citizen Kane (1944): “The realism, the development of the scenes, and the connection that is established so that the public doesn’t lose the thread of the narrative is something truly extraordinary that we have not seen before.” – Alfredo Córdoba, February 1944

You can find more of Cine-Mundial’s reviews on its Rotten Tomatoes source page.

See Some of the Most Striking Cine-Mundial Covers

And for a further treat, here are more gorgeous hand-painted covers of the magazine. Click on an image for gallery.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Awards E3 Warner Bros. Spectrum Originals First Reviews Heroines A24 BBC One OneApp joker 45 italian Fox News police drama See It Skip It Red Carpet RT History 2020 toy story finale Nickelodeon DC Comics slashers stoner Sundance TV binge Spring TV dceu reboot Mystery Lifetime anime cooking true crime breaking bad 21st Century Fox Comic Book dogs Amazon Studios Food Network biography Quiz miniseries Dark Horse Comics Paramount Network GoT Trophy Talk 71st Emmy Awards Cosplay TCM The CW Teen comedies Tumblr book Comedy Central serial killer Rocketman cats satire Disney+ Disney Plus Christmas batman Ovation Biopics APB Extras Baby Yoda transformers SDCC Travel Channel scary movies Marvel Television a nightmare on elm street Martial Arts Summer zombie james bond Sundance Now prank Pop The Walking Dead Apple Crackle NBC Columbia Pictures fresh Walt Disney Pictures mockumentary San Diego Comic-Con Superheroe Britbox Peacock TV VICE The Walt Disney Company comics Tarantino Mary Tyler Moore aliens razzies archives TNT Schedule Rock Musical NYCC halloween tv comic books Animation 007 IFC children's TV twilight Amazon Prime technology blaxploitation TCA New York Comic Con hispanic historical drama worst Turner Classic Movies Super Bowl CBS VH1 boxing Creative Arts Emmys Set visit Music Hulu Action thriller TIFF football RT21 ghosts Comedy HBO Max Stephen King Election Disney 99% sag awards ID El Rey king kong versus Year in Review Fantasy nbcuniversal superhero YouTube Premium Fall TV Amazon disaster dc TCA Winter 2020 nfl YouTube Red natural history Song of Ice and Fire DGA child's play Marathons die hard zero dark thirty GIFs spider-man Syfy Character Guide Sundance kids screenings ratings tv talk critics Ghostbusters Adult Swim diversity indiana jones films Musicals Disney Channel Classic Film OWN Amazon Prime Video Pirates mission: impossible CW Seed cartoon Marvel Studios Video Games australia Sci-Fi indie Television Academy Ellie Kemper jamie lee curtis psycho Women's History Month foreign LGBTQ HBO boxoffice Country Western Film Hallmark Christmas movies Lionsgate crime thriller Sony Pictures 2015 Broadway Fox Searchlight Trivia Horror rotten superman Pet Sematary facebook Drama A&E halloween Winter TV Acorn TV LGBT hollywood romance dragons Opinion cancelled TV shows Mindy Kaling french DC Universe Star Wars doctor who FX social media documentaries emmy awards Calendar DC streaming service Winners Marvel women blockbuster ABC Family CNN pirates of the caribbean golden globes theme song ESPN spy thriller directors 72 Emmy Awards latino all-time Family dark toronto sequels cops Anna Paquin werewolf concert BBC supernatural chucky Funimation franchise anthology HBO Go Pride Month Hallmark godzilla FX on Hulu Masterpiece docuseries ABC Signature Avengers scorecard cults Shudder mutant Watching Series MTV Elton John Toys fast and furious IFC Films cancelled Paramount Plus Valentine's Day discovery X-Men Lucasfilm witnail Pop TV strong female leads Captain marvel History video TCA 2017 Writers Guild of America 2017 Shondaland Hear Us Out medical drama Infographic Best and Worst rotten movies we love animated Apple TV+ what to watch rt archives singing competition Black History Month ITV remakes series sequel cars christmas movies quibi Rom-Com 2019 Mary Poppins Returns MCU crossover documentary renewed TV shows Endgame award winner Thanksgiving The Arrangement Turner festival Holiday Tomatazos MSNBC unscripted Film Festival japanese harry potter Television Critics Association movie parents green book talk show Reality Competition ViacomCBS Oscars Vudu 2016 AMC GLAAD TV Land Spike Academy Awards National Geographic Rocky obituary adventure laika south america Box Office Reality psychological thriller VOD Legendary The Witch justice league Black Mirror Holidays golden globe awards 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards vampires robots Brie Larson Grammys based on movie universal monsters popular Cannes BAFTA Emmys free movies stop motion Mary poppins Esquire Comics on TV Arrowverse richard e. Grant TBS television festivals jurassic park YA Nat Geo reviews political drama FXX travel science fiction CMT 24 frames Universal Lifetime Christmas movies Disney Plus romantic comedy American Society of Cinematographers SXSW Premiere Dates venice Emmy Nominations Cartoon Network deadpool blockbusters spain sitcom Crunchyroll hist revenge game show USA YouTube canceled telelvision The Purge sports TV renewals name the review Discovery Channel best The Academy Superheroes Trailer Awards Tour FOX SundanceTV Chernobyl cancelled TV series kong Interview screen actors guild Showtime crime drama Sneak Peek composers spanish Exclusive Video DirecTV Logo independent Paramount adaptation docudrama Kids & Family teaser zombies 2021 WGN BBC America crime TruTV monster movies Tubi stand-up comedy PBS Pixar E! worst movies ABC kaiju President hidden camera USA Network streaming movies Bravo elevated horror war Alien news trailers CBS All Access game of thrones rom-coms spanish language 2018 Freeform criterion cancelled television spinoff BET Photos First Look dramedy Netflix Christmas movies Binge Guide Disney streaming service Star Trek Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic 4/20 TLC Mudbound TCA Awards canceled TV shows PaleyFest space Nominations Apple TV Plus Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt classics Polls and Games WarnerMedia Countdown asian-american Certified Fresh TV One nature Starz PlayStation cinemax black casting period drama BET Awards comiccon politics Podcast 20th Century Fox video on demand Epix Netflix