El Enmascarado de Plata (1954)

In 1952, José G. Cruz created a comic book that turned Santo into a Mexican hero. This series ran for 35 years and was the basis for the Santo films, yet before that, director Rene Cardona wanted to make this film. Santo decided to not be in this, as he thought it would fail.

Who can say if he was wrong or right? All we do know is that within a few years, Santo would be a movie star, so maybe he just knew how to pick the right scripts.

This film is filled with villains. There’s Lobo Negro and his street gang, there’s a Silver Mask that gives the orders and another villain in a hood named El Tigre that gives even more orders, but he’s the one to listen to because he’s figured out how to throw lightning and change the weather. You know, if you could do this, wouldn’t you want to do it all the time? Well, El Tigre is more into being a traditional gangster, so perhaps he feels like having all these mereological powers are kinda like cheating.

Our hero is El Médico Asesino and his sidekick Freckles. One wonders how is a man named Killer Doctor the good guy, but these questions are best left unasked.

This isn’t the first lucha movie. That would be Huracán Ramírez, a movie in which actor David Silva played the masked wrestler. Eduardo Bonada wrestled as Huracán Ramírez until he was replaced by Daniel García, who kept the character until he retired; he’s in the movies El misterio de Huracán Ramírez, El Hijo de Huracán RamírezLa Venganza de Huracán Ramírez*. If you ever hear of a wrestler doing a move called a huracánrana, it came from García as Huracán Ramírez. He also played Santo in La Leyenda. Huracán Ramírez regularly teamed with Santo in the ring — but not in the movies — often forming a trio with Rayo de Jalisco.

During a match between this tecnico team and El Signo, El Texano and Negro Navarro — who still wrestles to this day as a maestro-style luchador** — Santo had a heart attack and was saved by Huracán Ramírez. Lifelong friends, he would be a pallbearer for Santo when he was buried in his silver mask. As for El Signo, El Texano and Negro Navarro, the infamy they received from this match led to them becoming known as Los Misioneros de la Muerte (The Missionaries of Death) and their trios-style would make trios matches the most common match form in Mexico.

As for Médico, he would go on to appear in El Luchador Fenómeno and La Bestia Magnifica before becoming one of the most famous Mexican wrestlers of his era. He was the first luchador to have a female second — La Enfermera del Médico Asesino — and teamed with Santo and Enfermero as Ola Blanca (White Wave). He also feuded in Texas with Pepper Gomez, Duke Keomuka and Johnny Valentine as a babyface using the name El Medico. He even had four NWA title matches against Lou Thesz at this time, a major deal in that era.

Sadly, Médico would be dead from advanced cancer just a few years later. There’s an urban legend that his family kept the cancer a secret from him, but for a guy who weighed 275 pounds in his prime to die at around 110 pounds, he had to know something was wrong. Luckily, he had insurance and saved his money, so his family didn’t suffer monetarily. Ironically, his wife worked as a nurse after his death.

His death was enough to reduce his opponents — and partners, El Enfermero famously broke down during a match and just sat on the floor of Arena Coliseo — to tears. He may not be known in the U.S. like Santo or Mil Mascaras, but he was an incredibly important figure in lucha libre history.

Anyways — this film is a footnote in Mexican wrestling movie history, but an important one.

*He is not playing the character in the boxing movies Huracán Ramírez y la Monjita Negra and De Sangre Chicana.

**This ground wrestling escape style is closer to the British World of Sport style than modern lucha, as it has near dance-like motions. It’s the best thing ever. Another example of a star that does this style is El Solar. You can also catch Navarro’s son’s as Los Traumas.

Note: Sources used include Luchawiki and the November 16, 2020 issue of the Wrestling Observer, in which Médico Asesino was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame.

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