El Cochecito (The Little Coach, 1960)
Directed by Marco Ferreri
Written by Marco Ferreri and Rafael Azcona
Starring: José Isbert, José Luis López Vázquez, Chus Lampreave, María Isbert
“El Cochecito” is often referred to as a “Spanish classic”. It was scripted by the talented Rafael Azcona, author of many other emblematic stories such as “El Verdugo”, “El Pisito” or the Oscar-winning “Belle Epoque”. Azcona’s scripts were powerful and often hid strong criticism behind their sharp comic tone. “El Cochecito” is a clear example of this. Filmed in 1960 it is regarded by some critics as a reflection of the self-indulgent Spanish society of the time, still well under Franco’s rule. The film’s main character, Don Anselmo, is a retired seventy year old man man who lives with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Don Anselmo enjoys spending his free time with his friends who, unlike him, are disabled. They go out, drive around in their road-adapted little coaches and even take part in popular races. Due to his optimal health, Don Anselmo often feels left out and soon asks his son to buy him a little coach. After his son’s refusal to such an unnecessary expenditure Don Anselmo carries out several stratagems to have his own vehicle – whatever the cost.
Wonderfully interpreted by the endearing Pepe Isbert, Don Anselmo resembles a little child in his often amoral determination to achieve his object of desire. His stubborn attitude causes various comic (almost surreal) situations. However, one can feel an underlying dramatic tone in the film as the story starts unravelling. Nevertheless, the film retains its status as a comedy and tragic elements are not completely shown but only left to our imagination. This is black humour at its best.