From the late 1930s to the early 1950s, Mexico was the first Spanish-speaking film-producing country with up to 125 films a year. Katy Jurado made her début in 1943, during that Golden Age, and went on to work in Hollywood. With her stunning beauty and unusual personality (she was also a bullfighter!), she often played determined and/or dangerous seductresses in films which include Luis Buhuel’s The Brute. She starred in Budd Boetticher’s The Bullfighter and the Lady (shot in Mexico). She also played for Fred Zinnemann (High Noon), Hathaway and Brando (One-Eyed Jacks). This year, the Festival of the 3 Continents will pay her a vast and greatly deserved tribute.
Born in 1927 into a well-to-do family, Katy Jurado was attracted by the cinéma at an early age. She made her first film at 16, after getting married, which enabled her to act in films without paternal consent. In a film industry where genres ruled and which only gave character parts to actors, her “distinguished and sensuous look” (in her own words) and her Indian features (quite unusual fora Mexican film star) meant she was naturally cast as a man-eater, a popular role in Mexican films. She can be seen as “the one who gets up late” in Nosotros los pobres in which Ismael Rodriguez elegantly rolled back the limits of melodrama.
1951 was a turning point in her career. Budd Boetticher, who later made the famous Seven Men From Now, went to Mexico to shoot The Bullfighter and the Lady, a very autobiographical film. Boetticher noticed Katy Jurado sitting in the terraces of the arenas where she often used to go. She said she was an actress and was immediately taken on. She played the part without knowing a word of English. After appearing in Buñuel’s melodrama The Brute (as the jealous mistress of a butcher hired by her husband to evict tenants), she went on to Hollywood to act in High Noon. She stayed there for most of the following ten years and married Ernest Borgnine. She was the only Mexican actress to be nominated for the Academy Award for best supporting actress (in Edward Dmytryk’s Broken Lance). Since the mid-1960s, she has made films at a slower pace, in the United States, sometimes in Europe, and in Mexico where she brilliantly played in Jorge Fons and Arturo Ripstein’s films (she was Marna Dorita in Ripstein’s Divine).