Calle Mayor (film)

Main street (Spanish: Calle Mayor) is a 1956 Spanish drama film directed by Juan Antonio Bardem. It features a French-Spanish cast led by the American actress Betsy Blair, who was dubbed into Spanish, as well as the Spanish actor José Suárez. It is based on a Carlos Arniches play titled La señorita de Trévelez. The locations were Palencia, Cuenca and Logroño. The film won the FRIPESCI Award at Venice Film Festival, and was an international success.

Calle Mayor
Spanish theatrical release poster
Directed byJuan Antonio Bardem
Produced byCesáreo González
Written byJuan Antonio Bardem
StarringBetsy Blair
José Suárez
Music byIsidro B. Maiztegui
Joseph Kosma
CinematographyMichel Kelber
Edited byMargarita de Ochoa
Distributed bySuevia Films
Release date
  • 5 December 1956 (1956-12-05)
Running time
99 minutes


Isabel (Betsy Blair) is a good-natured and sensible spinster who lives in a small town with her widowed mother. At the age of 35, she is losing all hope of getting married and having children.

A bunch of bored middle-aged friends decides to play a trick on Isabel: Juan (José Suárez), the youngest and most handsome of them, will pretend to fall in love with her. As Isabel lives the courtship, full of hope and joy, Juan realizes too late the cruelty of the situation, but, pushed by his buddies, doesn't dare tell Isabel the truth.

When the day of the gala dance at the town's club comes, Isabel is still living her dream of love. She expects her engagement to be publicly announced from the stage, but Juan, desperate, tries to do anything to shy away from the muddle.


Additional remarks

Similarities between Calle Mayor story and environment and Federico Fellini's I Vitelloni have been pointed out. Calle Mayor was Blair's first performance outside the US, and she played brilliantly her role (which bore a rather close resemblance to her character in her previous success, Marty). For Suárez, this was his most dramatically profound role, and it shot him momentarily to fame all across Europe.

The name of the role played by Yves Massard (an educated and honest friend of Juan, come from Madrid to pay a visit) was Bardem's homage to Federico Sánchez, a pseudonym under which Jorge Semprún managed the clandestine activities of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE). Bardem was a well-known member of the PCE.

The film was selected as the Spanish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 30th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[1]


Seven years after Calle Mayor, Bardem wrote and directed Nunca pasa nada (Nothing ever happens), which depicts an environment and characters similar to those in Calle Mayor, to the point that some critics nicknamed it disdainfully Calle Menor (Minor street).

See also


  1. Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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