Cine de Barrio on Spanish TV

Here I sit at my computer, poking away at this blog entry, as Sara Montiel sings the copla song “Una, Dos y Tres” in the 1959 Spanish movie, “Carmen, La de Ronda” on the weekly TV program Cine de Barrio. Today’s movie takes place in 1808 in the Andalusian town of Ronda. Carmen, the main character, is a beautiful gypsy girl who sings every day in the town market and falls in love with the invading French Sargent. Gripping.

Cine de Barrio is a program on Spain’s TVE, channel 1,  broadcasting every Saturday since 1995. Now it’s shown at 7pm and hosted by the Spanish actress Concha Velasco – formerly hosted by the 80+ year old actress/goddess, Carmen Sevilla.

Cine de Barrio shows Spain’s “classic” movies, usually from the 1950s to the 1970s. This was Spain’s “Golden Age” of cinema and these movies always contain several coplas or flamenco songs sung, although they weren’t considered musicals.

Every Spaniard considers Cine de Barrio their mother’s or grandmother’s favorite program (still or since 1995, anyway). The movies always depict small village life, plight of the poor, and always “traditional Spanish morals“. The old songs sung are also every Spaniard’s mother’s – or grandmother’s – favorite songs, sung while cleaning or cooking in the family home.

During the breaks in the movie, since (currently) TVE show no commercials – outside of publicizing their own programs, Concha Velasco will discuss the movie they’re watching with her co-host, interview famous (read: old) Spanish actors – sometimes from the movie they’re watching, and occasionally there’ll be an advertisement hawking “glamorous” costume jewelry worn by or purses carried by former hostess Carmen Sevilla. Kitsch.

So WHY do I have Cine de Barrio on my TV? Truth is, I don’t sit-and-watch it, but do like to catch the singing numbers and scenes of “old Spain” before the international invasion. Plus, the 85-year old Spanish woman sitting in my living room never misses the program.

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