1917, April 9 – PREMIERE, “TANGO DE LA MUERTE” (DEATH TANGO)

Director Jose Ferreyra, “El Negro Ferreyra”, was Afro-Argentinean; his great-grandmother had been slave; nevertheless he enjoyed a good education in the best schools available at the time…he was not only an early pioneer in Argentinean film history but an innovator; he attempted to develop one of the first sound system for films….his “Tango De La Muerte” was the first film devoted entirely to tango; in it a young girl leaves her home to enjoy the night life in Buenos Aires and along the way is seduced by a scoundrel and ruins her life…it is believed that a tango by the same name inspired by the film although little is known about its composer Horacio Mackintosh… what we do know is that it was recorded on 1917 by the “Orchestra Tipica Severino”, lead by Jose Arturo Severino…among others, the film starred Nello Cosimo, renown italian actor and director born in Macerata Italy who had emigrated to Buenos Aires…the theme of associating tango to death has been a popular one in history; in the film Last Tango In Paris that association is strongly present throughout the film…

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Another tango entitled “Tango De La Muerte” was composed and written by Alberto Novion (born in Bayona France but raised in Montevideo); it was  recorded by Carlos Gardel and Roberto Firpo in 1922…Jose Ferreyra, inspired by Charlie Chaplain, began his career in films as a painter and set designer, but in 1915 he quickly graduated to the rank of writer and director with “Una Noche de Garufa”, a film inspired by Eduardo Arolas’ tango by the same name.  His silent films were usually based in the suburbs and built around – or expanded upon – stories taken from popular tangos. Ferreyra also wrote lyrics for tangos which he would then use as themes for his films, although he usually worked without a script, choosing instead to develop the movie’s plot during filming…Together with Leopoldo Torres Rios, Ferreyra was one of only two Argentinean directors to successfully make the transition to sound; he would direct over forty-two films including the innovative “Ayudame A Vivir” with Libertad Lamarque which was one of the first Argentinean films to compete internationally…

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