Cinema and cantinflas lovers can enjoy a local exhibition that is sure to transport them back to the golden age of Mexican cinema and comedy.

Thanks to a collaboration between the Webb County Heritage Foundation and a private collector of posters of Mexico’s greatest icon, the local museum is able to show these posters to all visitors. The organization’s executive director said this exhibition is important both to commemorate an icon like Cantinflas and to introduce his comedy to younger generations.

“Mexican cinema is an important part of the history of a Spanish-speaking community because it is a form of entertainment, arts and education shared and enjoyed by all ages and backgrounds,” said Margarita Araiza, executive director of the Webb County Heritage Foundation. “This exhibition brings together a collection of movie posters that you won’t find anywhere else in one place. We are fortunate to be able to present this exhibition to our binational audience, visitors to Laredo, film fans and anyone who may not know this great Mexican film star that well.”

According to Araiza, Mario Moreno, “Cantinflas,” is someone who cannot be compared to any movie star in US cinema.

“The character of Cantinflas was an iconic personality who represented ‘every man,'” Araiza said. “As such, he was humble, kind, often charming, and incredibly funny. I can’t speak for Hispanic culture, but I know that in my experience I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t like Cantinflas’ humor. He was a welcome respite from ‘real world’ problems and always a good laugh.”

Araiza said Cantinflas actually shares some history with Laredo, having visited the city during his lifetime. She said it shows how connected he is to the local Hispanic community. In fact, he is known to have visited and even shopped at several stores around town.

“Cantinflas used to come to Laredo regularly to shop and visit friends, along with many of the big Mexican film and song stars in the mid-20th century,” Araiza said. There are photos of Mario Moreno visiting the Joe Brand clothing store that used to be in downtown Laredo.

She said bringing the collection to Laredo was all thanks to a man who loves Hispanic culture and what she has done for cinema both domestically and internationally. Interestingly, Araiza said the owner of the Cantinflas collection isn’t even Mexican.

“Freddy Peralta is an avid film buff and the owner of some very important collections of vintage Mexican cinema posters,” Araiza said. “He is a good friend of the Webb County Heritage Foundation, who has worked with us on numerous occasions to showcase his collections to audiences in this region.”

Araiza pointed out that Peralta is originally from the Dominican Republic but is now based in McAllen.

“We greatly appreciate Mr. Peralta’s generosity,” said Araiza. “He clearly enjoys sharing his collections and personal expertise. He has brought a true gift of history, art and culture to the Laredo audience out of his own desire to promote Hispanic culture.”

Araiza says the exhibition should be visited not only by fans of the Mexican icon, but also by young people who may not even know who Cantinflas is. This is because it can help them learn more about the legendary actor and also learn how movie posters have been the main form of presenting new movies.

“Young Laredoans should be the first to come and enjoy the artistry of the movie posters on display,” Araiza said. “This is an opportunity to explain that movie posters were the primary means of advertising and promoting movies in the olden days. In this day and age of digital streaming and non-print media, it’s worth pointing out the difference.”

Most importantly, Araiza says, this is a good thing for Laredo’s youth as it exposes them to a Mexican comedian who was once a megastar in international cinema. Cantinflas was once the world’s highest-paid comedian, making a name for himself portraying an ordinary “good guy with no superpowers” who got himself in and out of trouble in highly entertaining ways.

“Younger audiences should know that while Mario Moreno ‘Cantinflas’ was an icon of Mexican cinema, he devoted much of his wealth to philanthropic work in Mexico,” Araiza said.

Araiza said the public was invited to Thursday’s opening ceremony of the Cantinflas exhibition free of charge. Peralta gave a short presentation at the event about the poster exhibition and Cantinflas’ career.

“We also plan to screen a Cantinflas film in the courtyard of the Border Heritage Museum sometime in the fall, weather permitting,” she said.

From now on, the museum manager said there is a $3 entrance fee to the museum. The opening hours of the museum are Tuesday to Saturday from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. On Tuesdays, admission is free for everyone and children under 12 never pay admission.

Please visit the Webb County Heritage Foundation on Facebook or on their website for more information.

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