For Cinco de Mayo: Five Non-Mexican Mexicans In The Movies
Cinco de Mayo is a day for Americans of Mexican descent to commemorate their rich history and heritage while at the same time trying to ignore the legions of mouth-breathing Chron commenters clamoring for their deportation.
And if being blamed for the H1N1 (don't call it swine) flu outbreak wasn't enough, Mexicans have also have had to suffer the indignity of having non-Mexican actors portraying them in the movies.
5. Mel Blanc (as Speedy Gonzales)
When the Cartoon Network acquired exclusive rights to the Speedy catalog, they didn't play them for fear of being accused of racism. None other than the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) stepped in to trumpet the mouse's...positive aspects. We eagerly await the formation of the Baba Looey Anti-Defamation League.
4. Wallace Beery (as Pancho Villa) -- Viva Villa! (1934)
Personally, I find the fact that a paunchy, balding white guy is playing one of the heroes of Mexican history less offensive than the fact the same paunchy, balding white guy is getting his mitts all over Fay Wray. Sure puts that "giant ape" shout-out from Rocky Horror into perspective.
3. Lou Diamond Phillips (as Ritchie Valens) -- La Bamba (1987)
The problem isn't so much that the Scottish-Irish-Hawaiian-Cherokee-Filipino-Japanese Phillips couldn't adequately pass as the Mexican-American Valens, but that he couldn't sing. That's Los Lobos providing the actual music.
2. Marlon Brando (as Emiliano Zapata) -- Viva Zapata!
If one of your nation's earliest heroes is portrayed by a white man who just happens to be the greatest actor of his generation, is it really *that* offensive? What about Denzel Washington playing Ben Franklin? Or that other Washington?
1. Charlon Heston (as Ramon Miguel Vargas) -- Touch of Evil (1958)
Orson Welles was a great director, but apparently lacked the authority to get Heston to "un-Moses" his performance here. With every line, Vargas sounds like he's about to part the Rio Grande.
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