Baños, Ricard de


Baños, Ricard de
(1882-1939)
   Ricard de Baños was one of the pioneers of the Catalan film industry. During his first years as film-maker, he specialized in very popular silent adaptations of zarzuela, including El dúo de la africana (African Duet) and Bohemios (Bohemians), both made in 1905. These were projected as a record was playing. He studied in Paris, where he trained at the Gaumont company and focused on a career as a producer. On his return to Spain in the early 1910s, he started working for Hispano films, where he collaborated with his cinematographer brother Ramón de Baños in a series of costumbrista projects.
   The great success of the Jacinto Benavente adaptation La malquerida (The Wrongly Loved Woman, 1914) meant that the Baños brothers were able to set up their own production company, Royal Films. At that time, they started focusing on feature length films, and they became skilled theater adaptors. This was followed by other hits in a similar vein, including the bullfighting drama Sangre y arena (Blood and Sand, 1916, a collaboration with best-selling novelist Vicente Blasco Ibáñez), Juan José (1917), and Fuerza y nobleza (Strength and nobility, 1918). Arlequines de seda y oro (Silk and Gold Harlequins, 1919), based on a romantic melodrama by José de Zorrilla, is one of the most important films of the silent period in Spain, and has been regarded as Spanish cinema's first true classic. It was an ambitious film divided into three sections and, in its first version, almost four hours long. Arlequines de seda y oro is thematically typical of certain traditions in Spanish cinema: it features a bullfighter, a temperamental gypsy singer (played by torch singer and international recording star Raquel Meller), an outlaw, and a plot involving passion and jealousy.
   The film was recut and rereleased in 1925, in a shorter version that was synchronized to Meller's recordings, which by then had become very popular throughout Europe. Royal Films' successes continued into the next decade with titles like Don Juan Tenorio (1921, also based on Zorrilla). Baños' career flagged in the late 1920s. He returned to bullfighting, and worked with Meller again in El relicario (The memento, 1931), his only sound film and the last in his career. He retired after the film failed at the box office.
   Historical Dictionary of Spanish Cinema by Alberto Mira

Guide to cinema. . 2011.

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