Remembering Mary Walter

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First Movie – “…The cameras in those days of the silent screen were hand-cranked, and the lights were of the noisy, sparkling carburo type. Only the director had a script, and he would explain the story to the players, who usually spoke in English or (as in the case of Mary) in Spanish. The subtitles or dialogue were in English, although the titles were in Tagalog. Her first movie (apart from her dancing role in “Lillies of Benguet”) was “Lumang Simbahan”, which paired her with Gregorio Fernandez. It was the story of a girl who, faced with the prospect of a lovelss marriage, runs off with her real love; the two then find, literally, a pot of gold. Her first movie included a kissing scene between Mary and Gregorio Fernandez, and it turned out to be an ordeal of sorts for all concerned. Mary kept pushing her leading man away, saying “nobody has kissed me before except my papa!” and director Nepomuceno would remonstrate with her, “but May, you’re a movie star now and he’s supposed to be your husband.” It took ten takes to shoot the brief scene. Mary earned 200 pesos per picture during her years with Malayan Movies, a princely sum in those times, and she would go home feeling like a millionaires; later she worked for Banahaw Films. Then came the talkies, which revolutionized the movie industry, and Mary’s voice had to be taked to see if it was suitable for the movies…” – Amadis Ma. Guerrero, Philippines Daily Express, Sept. 28-29, 1978 (READ MORE)

Character Actress – “…Yes at 16 or even earlier, this beauteous Bicolana of Bacon, Sorsogon knew herself that she wanted to act. “I really wanted to be an actress. I do not know why. I just love to act,” explains Mary, who at 67, is still lovely and slim. “Nobody in the family was in the movies,” adds she, though she says she had appeared on stage, either dancing or singing, during school programs…”Ang Lumang Simbahan,” opposite Gregorio Fernandez, was her first picture. Interestingly, this movie already included a kissing scene between Mary and her leading man whom she kept pushing away from her. Well, not that Mary was naive or somthing but simply because it was her first time to kissed by another man (aside from her father) and on screen yet! The director would remind her that Gregorio was supposed to be her husband . Only after 10 takes was he able to shout “Cut!”…In 1949, after doing “Maliit Lang Ang Daigdig” for Premiere Productions, Mary took a long leave of absence from the movies and went home to Bacon, Sorsogon to be with her daughter, Charito, then a growning teen-ager. She did not go back to the movies until 1957, when she did “Kastilaloy” with Nida Blanca and Armando Goyena. By the 50s and 60s, Mary had become known as a character actress specializing in mother roles but, as Mary points out, she had been a character actress almost from the start. In her third movie, “Nanay Ko,” for example, she essayed a dual role (mother and daughter), a difficult feat that she would repeat in later years…..

…Mary is at her best when she portrays women of great strength and character, and she thrives on kontrabida roles. “Here you get some real acting” she says, “and they’re move challenging than the goody-goody roles wherein you’re just called upon to be patient and cry a little.” Coincidentally, one of her favorite roles is that of the formidable mother of Susan Roces in the original “Maruja”, and she reappears in the current “Gumising Ka, Maruja”, this time as an apparition from the past. She and Susan were the only original members of the cast of the old ‘Maruja’…Comparing the old days with today’s movie scene, Mary finds the present sadly wanting and deplores the lack of professionalism prevailing today. “You have to wait for the star, you have to wait for everything and it really gets your goat…during my time you couldn’t do anything like that. Now, even the make-up takes long, whereas before we had no make-up artist and we only used grease paint.” The fans, too, have grown more unruly. “The fans before were more decent,” Mary notes. “When we would make personal appearances in the provinces, they would just shake our hands, give us flowers and then let us pass. No grabbing and pulling, like today. I noticed that when we arrived in Bacolod (for the location shooting of “Gumising Ka, Maruja”), where the fans were so rude….At the same time, Mary finds movie scripts today a bit unrealistic, unlike before when they were down-to-earth and (except for horror stories and the like) based on the life of the Filipino people…As for the present crop of directors, Mary find them more learned in the sense that they have more tools of the craft to work with. “But you cannot compare the old ones because the young ones have modern ideas…” – Visitacion DeLa Torre, Expressweek, December 20 1979 (READ MORE)

Impressive Films – “…Just before the outbreak of the war, she made Niña Bonita for LVN. It was shown during the war along with the second version of Prinsipe Teñoso, directed by Manuel Conde. After the war, Mary made several comebacks. She appeared as the mother of Efren Reyes in the late forties and the mother of Fernando Poe Jr. and Zaldy Zshornack in the late fifties and early sixties. In the seventies, she appeared in many of the films of Lino Brocka: Stardoom, Santiago, Lumuha Pati Mga Angel, Cadena de Amor. She gave one of her most memorable performances in Tatlo, Dalawa, Isa as the possessive mother who pretends to be a cripple so that her daughter, Lolita Rodri-quez, would renounce marriage. She was also impressive in other directors’ films. In Elwood Perez’s Isang Gabi, Tatlong Babae, she injected humor in her role as the lesbian lover of Amalia Fuentes. In Boy Negro, she was the understanding septuagenarian matriarch of Phillip Salvador’s family. In her late age, Mary Walter is still active in movies and television. Her body of works has spanned several generations. This is indeed proof of her durability as a movie actress…” – Agustin Sotto (READ MORE)

Mary Walter (September 10, 1912 – February 25, 1993) was a Filipino actress whose 8 decade-long film acting career saw her transformation from a romantic lead in the silent film era into a wizened fixture in horror movies in the late 1980s and early 1990s. For her body of work accomplished in an especially long career, she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from both the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences and the Gawad Urian. – Wikipedia (READ MORE)

Mary Walter and Vilma Santos

Alyas Baby Tsina (1984) – “…You know, I did a movie before, Baby Tsina, but I wasn’t really Chinese there. In Mano Po 3, I play Lilia Chong-Yang, a socially conscious anti-crime crusader and I get to know more about Chinese culture. We were even taught how to speak Fookien Chinese by a private tutor. Sa dubbing, the coach was there to make sure we’re perfect with our pronunciation of all our Chinese lines…” – Mario E. Bautista (READ MORE)

Bakit Kailangan Kita? (1978) – “…Romeo Vasquez is an oddity in Vilma’s life. Hindi akalain ng lahat na ang isang notorious playboy and balikbayan actor would capture the heart of the then elusive Ate Vi. Nagkaroon sila ng affair which lasted for more than a year. Kilala si Bobby sa pagiging bohemyo kaya naman walang kakilala si Ate Vi na bumoto sa aktor. Ate Vi was love struck at talagang na head-over heels in love. Nagsimula ang kanilang affair sa set ng kanilang pelikulang “Nag-aapoy na Damdamin”. True to this title, nagliyab silang dalawa at tunay ngang nag-apoy ang kanilang damdamin. May plano pa nga sila ni Bobby na magpakasal sa Europe. Talagang Ate Vi was ready to give up her life as an actress and would settle with the actor abroad. And with herb relationship with Bobby, nag-surface ang bagong Vilma Santos.Ate Vi realized that she cann’t sacrifice everything for love. Nagising siya sa katotohanan at nagkamali kung kaya nagdesisyon siyang kumalas sa bohemyong aktor…” – Willie Fernandez (READ MORE)

Dalawang pugad, isang ibon (1977) – “…Bernal, testing the tensions of triangular love (for geometry books, one of his characters wittily says) for some time now, plunges deeper into character analysis and metaphorizing… In Lumayo, Lumapit ang Umaga, the triangle was unevenly explored: the first love was sketchily drawn. Dalawang Pugad, Isang become a choice for a more stable relationship. Walang Katapusang Tag-araw was a strange reverse of characters for two women and an unusual development of love into hatred and hatred into love, where therefore the triangle was essentially illusions. Ikaw ay Akin finally sets an interlocked triangle on its bases and looks at it (from all 3 angles) squarely in the face…” – Petronila Cleto (READ MORE)

Dugo at Pag-ibig sa Kapirasong Lupa (1975) – “…A Must for the Filipino History Students and for everyone who wants to awaken the innate nationalism in them. These series of stories depicting the fight of the Filipinos against colonialism of Spain, Japan and even their fellow Filipinos abusing the power in the government. A seemingly serious film but spiced with the star-studded cast like Fernando Poe Jr., Ramon Revilla, Joseph Estrada, Nora Aunor, Dante Rivero, Eddie Garcia, Vic Vargas, Goerge Estregan and the other all time favorite artists. This movie even highlighted the comparison between the love of country and the other kind of love we offer to our family and to our beloved as the story featured love stories in the midst of tragic and bloody war happening in our society…” – Kabayan Central (READ MORE)

Tok Tok Palatok (1974) – “…And so, to prove them wrong, Vilma’s manager smartly plotted follow-up recordings. Not only did Vilma record her follow-up album, she recorded a string of mini-LPs. Mini-LPs are shorter version of the big vinyl record with two songs on each side. She ventured into Tagalog songs, recording six songs that include instants hits like Isipin Mong Basta’t Mahal Kita, a theme song to a film she did opposite Filipino chess grand master, Eugene Torre; Palong-Palo, where she received a golden record award in 1974 and an up-tempo opm, Tok-Tok Palatok, another theme song from one of her comedy film with the same title opposite Jojit Paredes…” – RV (READ MORE)

KIng Khayam and I (1974) – “…The film started promising with funny scenes of Joseph Estrada facing his people seeking his advice or help. One was when a man presented his new product, a flying magic carpet but when the carpet didnt fly, Estrada suggested a lighter weight rider. Then veteran actress and much younger, Mary Walter in a cameo role, brought her just bought magic lamp. She complained to the king that the seller fooled her to buy the lamp and wanted a refund. She then caress the lamp and the gennie came out but instead of the expected giant gennie, a midget dwarf came out. Then from this moment the film went downhill. A singing bird, a transexual Ike Lozada being auctioned, Rod Navarro’s over the top villain antics, all failed to sustained our attention. The weak storyline did not help. Patterned with the Hollywood film, King Kayam & I’s only saving grace was the acting of its lead stars. Joseph Estrada’s precense was commanding and convincing as the playboy king and Vilma’s charming innocense despite the sexy dance number at the end complimented Joseph’s macho image…” – RV (READ MORE)

Lipad, Darna, lipad! (1973) – “…Ding, ang bato!” yells Narda, the adolescent country lass, to her younger brother. Ding obligingly hands over a shiny pebble which Narda swallows to turn herself into the vivacious super-vixen, Darna. Mars Ravelo’s superheroine, clad in crimson bikinis and knee-high stiletto boots, may perhaps be the most famous local fantasy character given life on the silver screen. Though not actually considered a career-defining role, portraying Darna is, nonetheless, highly-coveted. Darna has been portrayed by no less than nine actress in 12 feature films. Rosa del Rosario first wore the scarlet two piece in May 1951. She reprised the role after three months. Liza Moreno, Eva Montes and Gina Pareno followed her. The inter-galactic pebble found its way to Vilma Santos’ throat in 1973 via the flick “Lipad, Darna, Lipad!” Santos, now a two-term mayor of Lipa City in Batangas, is probably the most popular Darna, with a total of four movies in a span of seven years. Some of these were made known to younger generations through afternoon airings on television in the late ’80s. Maybe RPN 9 should do that again so that even younger generations can marvel at Darna’s greatness, albeit antiquated, in such movies as “Darna and the Giants” and “Darna vs. the Planet Women…” – Armin Adina, Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 06, 2003 (READ MORE)

Ophelia at Paris (1973) – “…Mars Ravelo’s Ophelia & Paris: Prinsipe Paris Walang Kaparis (December 10, 1973) ay handog ng VL Productions na tinampukan nina Vi, Victor Laurel, Marissa Delgado, German Moreno, Rodolfo Boy Garcia, Mary Walter, Subas Herrero, Joonee Gamboa, Celia Diaz Laurel at Ronald Remy sa direksiyon ni Celia Diaz Laurel…” – Alfonso Valencia (READ MORE)

Dulce Corazon (1972) – “…By late 1969, movie producers had been tapping a Vilma Santos-Edgar Mortiz love team. Edgar was a Tawag ng Tanghalan winner. They started to be together in the movies, My Darling Eddie (1969) and The Jukebox King (1969)…In 1970, the love team of Vilma Santos and Edgar “Bobot” Mortiz was officially launched in the movie Young Love, together with the another popular love team during that time, Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III. The Vi and Bot love team went on to do 14 more movies in 1970—The Young Idols, Songs and Lovers, Sweethearts, Sixteen, Love Letters, Love is for the Two of Us, Mga Batang Bangketa, My Pledge of Love, Renee Rose, Baby Vi, Because You Are Mine, Edgar Loves Vilma, From the Bottom of My Heart, and I Love You Honey. All did well at the box-office…” – Rommel R. Llanes (READ MORE)

Edgar Loves Vilma (1970) – “…The loveteam of Edgar Mortiz and Vilma Santos endured a stiff competition from teeny bopper love team of Nora Aunor and Tirso Cruz III and came up with equal success with string of hit films during the musical era of the 70s. Together they did forgettable but commercial hits and also some hints of the years to come to Vilma Santos’ long career. The most notable one: Dama De Noche. Total Number of films with Vilma Santos – 25 (Young Love, Teenage Jamboree, Songs and Lovers, Renee Rose, My Pledge of Love, Mga Batang Bangketa, Love Is for the Two of Us, I Love You Honey, From the Bottom of My Heart, Baby Vi, Love Letters, The Wonderful World of Music, The Sensations, The Young Idols, Sweethearts, Sixteen, Leron-Leron Sinta, Edgar Love Vilma, Don’t Ever Say Goodbye, Dama de Noche, Anak ng Aswang, Because You Are Mine, Kampanerang Kuba, Kasalanan Kaya, Karugtong ang Kahapon…” – RV (READ MORE)

I Do Love You (1970) – “…Peregrina’s popularity was high, particularly among masses. Jukebox, the coin-operated machine which plays selected music, was said to have attained much popularity as well because of continuous requests of Peregrina’s songs. His fame surge even more among the Filipino masses when he became movie star, cast with the leading ladies of the 1970s, including Esperanza Fabon and Nora Aunor, with whom he had a TV show entitled The Eddie-Nora Show on Channel 9 in the 1960s. Among his movies included Mardy, Memories of Our Dreams with Esperanza Fabon. He co-starred with his wife Lyn Salazarin in Batul of Mactan in 1974. He was also the leading man in Dito sa Aking Puso (1970) with Nora Aunor and with Vilma Santos in Mardy. Most of his films were produced by JBC Productions, which invariably paired him with Vilma Santos, Edgar Mortiz, Esperanza Fabon, and directed by Bebong Osorio. When not busy attending show business commitments, he managed his own business, including Edviper Records and the Pervil Photo Studio…” – Wikepedia (READ MORE)

My Darling Eddie (1969) – “…”During the early 60’s, a singer’s popularity was practically determined by the jukebox, a coin-operated machine that can play specially selected songs from self-contained media. It was a period when fans dropped 20 centavos in a jukebox to listen to Timi Yuro’s “Crazy” or Matt Monro’s “Walk Away” and “Before You Go.” Of course, Eddie’s songs like “Together Again,” “Two Lovely Flowers,” “Mardy” and “I Do Love You” were such national anthems and outdid their foreign counterparts not only in the jukebox market but also on the airwaves, in restaurants and well…the local cabaret…” – Gypsy Baldovino (READ MORE)

Hindi Nahahati Ang Langit (1966) – “…In 1963, two great Sampaguita talents, Lolita Rodriguez and Marlene Dauden and drama king Eddie Rodriguez starred in Sapagka’t Kami’y Tao Lamang, the movie that turned out to be a sensational and phenomenal hit. The movie garnered the year’s top FAMAS awards— Best Actor for Eddie Rodriguez; Best Supporting Actress for Marlene Dauden; Best Director for Armando De Guzman. It started the series of the so-called love triangle movies featuring the three dramatic icons in Philippine movies. Ms. Dauden was memorable in such dramas as Anino ni Bathala (1958) and Kamandag (1959). In both films, Marlene won the FAMAS best supporting actress trophies. She was also awarded the FAMAS Best Actress awards twice: Sa Bawa’t Pintig ng Puso (1964) and Kapag Puso’y Sinugatan (1967)…” – Simon Santos (READ MORE)

“…Mary Walter joined the movies in 1928 at the age of 15. Since then, she had played a variety of roles ranging from a blushing bride to an anxious mother to a domineering grandmother, often playing the role of a woman of great strength and character. She thrived on the kontrabida role. Mary was the first aswang in Philippine movies, who played the role in Manananggal. Discovered by the late Jose Nepomuceno, her first movie in a starring role was Lumang Simbahan, directed by Gregorio Fernandez. She made over 250 movies. She was one, if not the last, of the few actresses who made the transition from silent movies to the talkies. Mary said old age is not an impediment to her profession. As she put it: “I don’t mind being old. It comes to everyone. I have been playing mamas or grandmas since the start. I just love character roles. I feel young…” – Jose N. Carreon (READ MORE)

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