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

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