Latinos Land Featured Roles in Several New Movies

The most important Latino-theme film to be released by Hollywood this winter is Warner Bros.’ “The Mambo Kings.” The story follows two Cuban musician brothers, played by Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas, who arrive in New York City during the 1950s mambo craze. They bring their own songs and dreams of love and fame. In one key scene, they appear on the “I Love Lucy” TV show.

Based on Oscar Hijuelos’ Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the film features a wealth of Latino talent, including Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, and Desi Arnaz Jr. The film’s soundtrack includes music by Los Lobos and Linda Ronstadt.

“Mambo Kings” will open in Los Angeles on Dec. 25.

Other recent or upcoming Hollywood releases that feature Latinos in important roles:


* Raul Julia stars as Gomez in “The Addams Family.” Julia has been in great demand as a film actor, with such projects as “Romero,” “Presumed Innocent” and Luis Puenzo’s forthcoming “The Plague.”

* Rosana de Soto (“La Bamba,” “Stand and Deliver” and “Family Business”) is among a handful of Latinas who are landing leading roles. De Soto has a featured role as a Klingon in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” which opens Dec. 6.

* Tony Plana has a featured part in Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” opening Dec. 20. Plana also appeared in “Salvador,” “Romero,” “Havana,” and this year’s “One Good Cop.”

* Hector Elizondo co-stars in two current films, “Necessary Roughness” and “Frankie & Johnny.” Elizondo had a memorable part last year as the hotel manager in “Pretty Woman.”

* Andy Garcia, who was nominated for an Oscar last year for his role in “Godfather III,” had a leading part this year in “Dead Again.” Garcia has starring roles in next year’s “Jennifer 8,” which is in production, and “Heroes.” Two future projects include “The Chico Mendes Story” and “Lost City,” in which Garcia plans to be actor, director and producer.

In addition, three Spanish-language films, two from Mexico and one from Spain, are scheduled for release in the United States in the coming months:

* “Danzon,” directed by Maria Novaro of Mexico, will be released in March by Orion Classics.

* Nicolas Echevarria’s “Cabeza de Vaca” will open in theaters next year and will be aired as an “American Playhouse” TV feature.

* Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, whose “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” won a 1989 Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film, has a new comedy, “High Heels,” to open Dec. 20. It will star singer Miguel Bose caught in a menage a trois with a mother, Marisa Paredes, and a daughter, Victoria Abril.