Lazaga, Pedro

(1918-1979)
   Although mostly known for his increasingly conventional conservative series of comedies and dramas at the end of the Franco period, in the early part of his career Lazaga showed promise as a filmmaker who attempted serious treatments of the Civil War (on which he fought on the side of the Fascists). He started in the film industry as assistant director for innovative film-makers Carlos Serrano de Osma and Lorenzo Llobet, who belonged to a group influenced by experimentalism known as the "telúricos." His feature film debut was Campo bravo (Open Field, 1948), followed by a couple of less interesting films. With La patrulla (The Patrol, 1954), he started a short period of complex narratives on the war experience. Cuerda de presos (Prisoners, 1955) has been considered by critics his best film, and had some impact in spite of poor distribution. The series of projects that followed constitute an interesting cycle on the war experience: El frente infinito (The Endless Front, 1956), Torrepartida (1956), and La fiel infantería (Loyal Infantry, 1959). The latter was so balanced in its treatment of the issue that it almost got him into trouble with censors.
   However, at that point Lazaga began focusing almost exclusively on avowedly light comedies like Muchachas de azul (Girls in Blue, 1957), Ana dice sí (Ana Says Yes, 1958), Miss cuplé (Miss Tune, 1959), and Los tramposos (The Fakers, 1959). These were effective films intended to do well at the box office; in terms of narrative they were unexceptional and rather harmless romantic stories with no ideological content. But the years of desarrollismo seem to have pushed Lazaga into a blatantly conservative agenda. A series of reactionary comedies centered on Paco Martínez Soria's persona followed, including La ciudad no es para mí (The City Is Not for Me, 1966), El turismo es un gran invento (Tourism Is a Great Invention, 1968), and Abuelo Made in Spain (Grandfather Made in Spain, 1969). In all of them, Martínez Soria is a representative of traditional Spanish virtues that are being eroded by progress (relative sexual freedom, urban life). In the late 1960s and through the 1970s, he flirted with erotic comedy, directing an undistinguished series of titles including Las amigas (The Lady Friends, 1969), El chulo (The Pimp, 1974), and Yo soy fulana de tal (I am Such and Such, 1975).
   After the Franco period, Lazaga became something of a cliché for critics, representing the worst trends in Spanish cinema, and until his death he continued making comedies that suggested a certain nostalgia for the Franco years like Vota a Gundisalvo (Vote Gundisalvo, 1977) or more Martínez Soria vehicles like Estoy hecho un chaval (I'm Just a Kid, 1977) and ¡Vayapar de gemelos! (Such Twins! 1978).

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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