Publicity poster for Negro es mi color, 1951

[Rita] Montaner’s…participation in films such as Negro es mi color [My Color is Black] in 1950, and El alma no tiene color [The Soul Has No Color], 1955, reveals a further engagement with and portrayal of Blackness in Latin-American cinema. The casting of Montaner in the parallel blackface roles of Angelitos Negros and Negro es mi color in fact suggests a Latin-Americanized version of the Southern mammy…


Angelitos negros is set in a Mexican nightclub, but blackness (exotic, sensual, and primitive) is projected onto Cuba. The Cuban actress Rita Montaner plays the role of Mercé, the black nanny, and, as the narrative ultimately reveals, the true mother of the film’s blonde protagonist, Ana Luisa de la Fuente. Irwin points out that “appearing in blackface…Cuban actress Rita Montaner…despite actually being mixed race, the real-life daughter of a mulata needs to mark her difference by cosmetically accentuating her blackness.”…Blackface ironically also functions to whiten Rita Montaner, making miscegenous desire safe, whether that be the miscegenous desire implied in the narrative or the desire for Montaner’s body.

Publicity poster for Negro es mi color, 1951

[Rita] Montaner’s…participation in films such as Negro es mi color [My Color is Black] in 1950, and El alma no tiene color [The Soul Has No Color], 1955, reveals a further engagement with and portrayal of Blackness in Latin-American cinema. The casting of Montaner in the parallel blackface roles of Angelitos Negros and Negro es mi color in fact suggests a Latin-Americanized version of the Southern mammy…

Angelitos negros is set in a Mexican nightclub, but blackness (exotic, sensual, and primitive) is projected onto Cuba. The Cuban actress Rita Montaner plays the role of Mercé, the black nanny, and, as the narrative ultimately reveals, the true mother of the film’s blonde protagonist, Ana Luisa de la Fuente. Irwin points out that “appearing in blackface…Cuban actress Rita Montaner…despite actually being mixed race, the real-life daughter of a mulata needs to mark her difference by cosmetically accentuating her blackness.”…Blackface ironically also functions to whiten Rita Montaner, making miscegenous desire safe, whether that be the miscegenous desire implied in the narrative or the desire for Montaner’s body.

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    Fascinating.
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