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Monday, June 26, 2006

The discreet charm of guiris

Two Spanish archetypes collide in Pedro Lazaga’s “Three Swedish Women for Three Rodriguez” (1975)

Poor Paco should have known. Ingrid - his sexy sunbathing Swedish neighbor - had nothing but evil intentions when she said to him:

“Mucho valiente. Tu toreador?” (Very valiant. You bullfighter?)

Incredulous - but cachondo - Paco replied:

“Toreador no. Yo colchonero!” (Bullfighter no. I mattress salesman!)

Paco, naturally, was hypnotized by her encantos

Tres suecas para tres Rodriguez (Three Swedish women for three Rodriguez), by director Pedro Lazaga, is a guiri exploitation flic. In it, we’re introduced to two of the most important archetypes in modern Spain: one is the guiri – in this case represented by three Swedish babes, the original gangstas of guiris; the other is the Rodriguez, which, according to the LaRousse Diccionario del Argot, means “the husband that has to work while the family goes on vacation”. Despite what it may sound like, “doing the Rodriguez” is considered a good thing. The Rodriguez gets the house, the television, everything to himself.

Most importantly he has the opportunity to chase after lovely Swedish guiris.

Over a soundtrack that sounds like a mash up of The Love Boat theme and circus music, we see a pollution-filled panoramic shot of 70s Madrid. Cut to a shot of toupee-wearing Tony LeBlanc battling his alarm clock … my first pleasant surprise. Tony LeBlanc – for those of you who may not know – played Torrente’s father in Santiago Segura’s eponymous movie franchise. In fact, his role in Torrente - El Brazo Tonto de la Ley was his big come back 25 years after the monumental Tres Suecas para Tres Rodriguez.

It turns out Paco’s wife, Adela, is pregnant and is going on vacation with or without him. He is too tired to accompany her to the charming Hotel Don Pancho in Benidorm, so she leaves him alone at home, thereby making him officially a Rodriguez.

Paco is a disaster without his wife. He can’t hang his clothes properly, he can’t fry eggs, he can’t even iron his clothes … but he is a virile Spanish macho man. Enter Ingrid, the sunbathing Swedish siren on the neighboring balcony. She doesn’t much care that he’s a lowly mattress salesman: “Come here, guapo españolo!”

He can’t believe his luck when his guiri neighbor introduces him to two of her cute blonde - and Swedish - friends. Paco invites his amigos, Antonio and José, along for the ride (they also happen to be mattress salesmen, and by coincidence also “doing the Rodriguez”). The three unlikely couples go on a reckless ride in Ingrid’s sporty convertible; afterward they go to the bullfights where one of the Swedish babes brazenly enters the ring for a little toreador action. Paco and his buddies look on in bemusement. Those crazy guiris! Later, they end up back at Ingrid’s bachelorette pad.

It’s the moment of truth.

We hear a little wiki wiki wah wah guitar swankiness come from the record player, and the suecas get to grooving. Paco and friends pull their best macho iberico moves. Meanwhile Ingrid goes to prepare drinks.

In this moment our suspicions are finally confirmed (earlier in the movie, the more discerning will have noticed that these three Swedish babes spoke English with American accents, which isn’t exactly Swedish. A slight oversight by the director, I guess).

Drinks poured, Ingrid busts out a little baggie and laces the three “españolos” drinks. This mysterious substance turns out to be heroin. Soon these would-be Don Juan Tenorios find themselves inconveniently drowsy, yet feeling might fine. They eventually nod off.

The three suecas move fast. They steal the keys to Paco’s apartment and hide a large stash of heroin in his wife’s flower pots. Paco, upon waking up, has no idea what happened, and he soon finds himself embroiled in an international drug smuggling plot, replete with mustacheoed policemen and leather-jumpsuit-wearing boyfriends.

Ingrid, the alpha female guiri represents the classic sueca in modern Spanish mythology. She is reckless, rich, fascinated by Spanish virility. She is also manipulative. In a semi-conscious state towards the end of the movie she even calls Paco a “gilipuertas”. But, by this time, Paco was wise to her. He had already confided to Antonio and José: What would three sexy young Swedish women be doing with three over-the-hill Rodriguez like them?

It just might be Paco’s clever intuition that saves him from the law and the nagging vengeance of his pear-shaped wife, Adela. Ingrid, the cagey femme fatale, has to admit: Es gilipuertas, but not tonto.”