Bautista, Aurora

(1925- )
   Aurora Bautista was born in Vallad-olid. Her father was a Republican who was jailed after the Civil War, a fact that would be carefully silenced by producers and the press during her years as Francoism's most glittering film star. Her acting career started in Barcelona in the mid-1940s, where she worked for prestigious theater companies. Her great opportunity came when she was chosen by Juan de Orduña to star in Locura de amor (Madness for Love, 1948), a historical melodrama about a Spanish queen unlucky in love. Her enormous success led to other similarly flavored collaborations for Orduña under the CIFESA label. In Agustina de Aragón (1950), she played a brave Zaragoza patriot who earnestly harangued her fellow citizens to stand up to the French invaders. In Pequeneces (Small Things, 1950) she was a 19th-century society lady led astray by frivolity, who loses her son as a narrative punishment.
   Bautista's acting in these films was emphatic and campily over-done, but something in her style (or maybe in the roles she specialized in) fascinated audiences. In those years, Bautista became the closest equivalent Spanish cinema ever had to a Hollywood star. However, she felt uncomfortable about being fêted by the authorities she had been brought up to fear, and she disliked the kind of heroic roles she was given. During the decadence of CIFESA, she used her box-office momentum to turn her career around and tackle more complex roles. Condenados (Condemned, Manuel Mur Oti, 1953) was a rural melodrama in which she played an unkempt, hardworking, fiercely independent landowner, in stark contrast with her former patriotic heroines. The film was a flop, and she decided to return to the stage. She would play roles like Federico García Lorca's Yerma, Maggie the Cat in Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and in the William Faulkner adaptation Requiem for a Woman.
   Bautista's career in film intermittent after that. She starred in the first Spanish film in color, La gata (The Cat, Margarita Alexandre and Rafael María Torrecilla, 1956) playing a character very close to a Williams' heroine, who struggles not to be conquered by her emotions. In the next decade, eclipsed by a new kind of rising star (girl-next-door types, strictly nonbombastic), she kept a low profile, but her work had matured, revealing a hard-won humanity and vulnerability. Although her last collaboration with Juan de Orduña (Teresa de Jesús, 1961) was largely ignored by critics and audiences, she successfully underplayed in La tia Tula (Aunt Tula, Miguel Picazo, 1964), a subtle Nuevo cine español drama of repression and provincial life, based on a novel by Miguel de Unamuno. Here she played a woman living in a small city who cannot acknowledge her feelings for her husband's brother. In spite of the personal success the film brought to her, Bautista's time had passed. Although she had become an icon and was continually called upon to do advertising and special appearances on television, her style and her image as one of Francisco Franco's favorite actresses were wrong for the period. She was rediscovered in the late 1980s, always in small roles. She was very good as the Mother Superior in Extramuros (Outside Convent Walls, 1985), another Miguel Picazo film. Later she had small supporting roles in Basilio Martín Patino's return to Salamanca Octavia (2003) and as the miserly madwoman in José Luis Garci's Tiovivo c. 1950 (Carousel c. 1950, 2004).

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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