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

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