Luna, Manuel

Luna, Manuel
   Manuel Luna was an established theater actor before he was picked by Florián Rey for a series of supporting roles in his films with Imperio Argentina. He was in Nobleza baturra (Aragonese Nobility, 1935) and played the prosecutor in Morena Clara (1936), two of the most popular films of the Republican period. He was very prolific in the next two decades. When Rey moved to Nazi Germany to shoot further titles with Argentina and Conchita Piquer, he took Luna along with him, for roles in La canción de Aixa (Aixa's Song, 1939) and La Dolores (Dolores, 1940).
   The Civil War did not greatly affect his career, and he was typecast in many comedies and dramas as an often sour or grumpy figure of authority who quietly watches the protagonists' actions, always at hand for a word of advice. He also specialized in specific cultural types, especially "castizo" or "andalusian." His brooding, threatening demeanor was put to good use in Edgar Neville's El crimen de la Calle Bordadores (The Crime of Bordadores Street, 1946), one of his best roles, in which he played an amoral character suspected of murder, but whose actual guilt is never clarified in the narrative.
   From the mid-1940s, Luna became a favorite as ensemble player in CIFESA costume dramas by Luis Lucia and Juan de Orduña. In Lucia's Lola la Piconera (Lola the Coalgirl, 1951) and Currito de la Cruz (1949), his emphatic diction and authoritative presence were important in conveying the father-figure elements of, respectively, a bullfighter who is the protagonist's mentor and a French general. In La Lola se va a los puertos (Lola Goes to the Ports, 1947), Orduña gave Luna his best part. As an accompanist to the eponymous singer Lola (Juanita Reina), he showed the painful dilemma of the friend and confidant who is in love with her, but knows he can only show his emotions through his playing. In more conventional parts, he remained a remarkable presence in other Orduña's films like Locura de amor (Madness for Love, 1948), Agustina de Aragón (1950), and Alba de América (Dawn of America, 1951).
   Until his death in 1958, Luna continued to play important supporting roles in quality projects with a strongly "national" flavor: he played in bullfighting dramas (Los clarines del miedo [ The Bugles of Fear, Antonio Román, 1958 ]), as authority figures in rural dramas (Fuenteovejuna [ Antonio Román, 1947 ], El alcalde de Zalamea [ The Mayor of Zalamea, José Gutiérrez Maesso, 1954 ]), and as the odd rural priest (Un caballero andaluz [ An Andalusian Gentleman, Luis Lucia, 1954 ], La hermana alegría [ Sister Joy, Luis Lucia, 1955 ], and El Piyayo [ Luis Lucia, 1956 ]).

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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