The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (Ensayo de un crimen)(Rehearsal for a Crime) (1955) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (Ensayo de un crimen)(Rehearsal for a Crime) (1955)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (Ensayo de un crimen)(Rehearsal for a Crime) Photos

Movie Info

This Mexican-filmed black comedy (distributed in the U.S. seven years after its initial 1955 release date) is one of the minor but no less characteristic works of director Luis Buñuel. The film begins with Archibaldo (Ernesto Alonso) being triggered by a music box into a lengthy reminiscence of his childhood. It was an average, everyday incident, one that undoubtedly has occurred to us all: Archibaldo was caught dressing up in his mother's clothes by his governess, who was then instantly killed by a revolutionary's bullet before she could tell on him. The experience proved to be Archibaldo's "first rush," and he spends the rest of his life trying to re-create the sexual euphoria of that moment -- by murdering attractive women. Buñuel's characteristic perverse black humor then adds a twist, which prevents Archibaldo from fulfilling his desires. Perverse, but darkly funny, Ensayo de un Crimen is a slyly shocking delight. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast

Ernesto Alonso
as Archibaldo de la Cruz
Rita Macedo
as Patricia Terrazas
Rodolfo Landa
as Alejandro Rivas
Eva Calvo
as Mother
Carlos Riquelme
as Chief of Police
Andrea Palma
as Cervantes
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (Ensayo de un crimen)(Rehearsal for a Crime)

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (3)

Against a background of revolution and restoration, Catholic mysteries and aristocratic manners, Buñuel unfolds, in images akin to Freudian X-rays ...

Full Review… | June 30, 2014
New Yorker
Top Critic

Though it's 22 years late in arriving, The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz is the only new movie in town about which I can say that it mustn't be missed.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Buñuel is still able to put some bizarre -- and very funny -- personal touches on this story of a man obsessed with the idea that the music box he owned as a child has the power to kill.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The central work of Buñuel's career, a midpoint between the early savagery and the later urbanity

Full Review… | December 16, 2013
CinePassion

Perhaps the lightest and most purely playful film of Buñuel's career. It's an oddly charming black comedy dressed up as a kind of thriller.

Full Review… | September 10, 2008
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

It never amounts to more than a cheaply made one macabre joke movie that was only slightly amusing and only somewhat more effective as satire.

Full Review… | September 8, 2007
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (Ensayo de un crimen)(Rehearsal for a Crime)

terrific pitch black comedy about a would be serial killer whose plans always go awry. notable as the last film of miroslava, who was cremated soon after her mannequin was incinerated in the film

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

Fantastic! Not a lot of familiarity with early Mexican cinema but this has a nice humour to the drama that adds a wonderful touch.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

½

"The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz" may be Luis Bunuel's most underrated film, and it's certainly among the best of his Mexican period. Buñuel's early movies always get scoured for hidden flashes of perversity, but no such labor is required with "Archibaldo de la Cruz." In fact, this droll tale fits quite neatly alongside "The Exterminating Angel" (where people can't manage to leave a party) and "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (where people can't manage to eat dinner). In this case, the elusive goal is murder. As a spoiled child of privilege, young Archibaldo is shown a family music box which allegedly causes an enemy's death when played. He experimentally cranks it while wishing for his nanny's death. A moment later, a revolutionary's stray bullet shatters the window and kills her. The boy is enthralled. This launches a long-time pattern of Archibaldo pursuing murder plans, only to have outside forces intervene first. Still, he assures himself that he is somehow responsible for the deaths. Hence the film's ironic title -- he achieves a "criminal life" in mind only. Individual scenes also have the classic Bunuel touch. There's a macabre daydream with dripping blood, and a second fantasy with atmospheric smoke, a stabbing and a glass of milk (Archibaldo shuns alcohol). Nattering American tourists are derisively portrayed. And recurrent shots of ominous straight razors can't help but recall what may be cinema's most notorious use of a razor ever: the sliced-eyeball image of "Un Chien Andalou." But the most deliciously warped sequence comes when Archibaldo gets ahold of a mannequin modeled after his gal Lavinia. Bunuel has a ball using both the actress and her double in the same scene (they even share underwear!), confusing both his audience and Archibaldo. The mannequin's eventual fate is just as twisted. The film's biggest flaws are simply a matter of money. The production values are crummy. The actors are bland, unknown and uncharismatic. And the horrid organ score sounds like stereotypical music from a vintage soap opera. But if Bunuel had tackled this same script 10 years later, we would have one more black-humor masterpiece. Note: The subtitles in the version I saw were seriously deficient. Not only was the white text occasionally unreadable, but only about 60% of the dialogue was translated!

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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