Emilio Fernández

Active - 1930 - 2012  |   Born - Mar 26, 1903   |   Died - Aug 6, 1986   |   Genres - Drama, Western, Action

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Known to his devotees as "El Indio" because of his mixed parentage, Emilio Fernandez was not yet out of his teens when his participation as an officer in Mexico's Huerta rebellion earned him a 20-year prison sentence. Escaping to the United States in 1923, Fernandez worked as a Hollywood extra and bit player, returning to Mexico when granted amnesty in 1934. His directorial career began in 1941 with La Isla de la Pasion. Within a few years he was Mexico's foremost filmmaker specializing in populist dramas, many of them starring his wife, Columba Dominguez. His 1943 film Maria Candelaria won a Cannes Film Festival Grand Prize, while his 1946 adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Pearl, starring his favorite actor Pedro Armendariz and photographed by his longtime collaborator Gabriel Figueroa, earned several additional awards. His fame and prestige did nothing to quench his personal combustibility; notorious in cinematic circles as the only prominent director who ever actually shot a film critic, he later served six months of a four-and-a-half year sentence for manslaughter after killing a farm laborer during an argument. In the '50s Fernandez's prestige declined as the quality of his films slackened and he returned to acting; however, every few years he also directed. In the '60s and '70s he appeared in a number of American films.

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