and abroad, as a national version of auteur cinema; the International Press Prize at Cannes in 1961 went to his La mano en la trampa ( "The hand in the trap").
Brazil had come up with another Cannes prize-winner a few years earlier. Lima Barreto's O cangaéeiro ( 1953), which revived the old theme of the bandits of the sertéo in the guise of a Western -- but shot in São Paulo, where the landscape was hardly authentic-was a world-wide success distributed in some twenty-two countries, though not exactly Brazilian cinema at its most original. The production company responsible for this film was the short-lived Vera Cruz film company, set up in 1949 with backing by São Paulo's industrial bourgeoisie in 1949 and bankrupted in 1954. São Paulo attempted, says Salles Gomes, to create a more ambitious cinema both industrially and artistically; the paulistas dismissed the popular virtues of carioca cinema (that of Rio) and tried to give their films the look of Old World movies, usually with a European mise-en-scéne. When they finally rediscovered the cangaçeiro genre, or turned for inspiration to radio comedies, it was already too late. The project was a disaster not only culturally but also economically. While the company invested huge sums in production, it overlooked the question of distribution. Thus, in handing over distribution of O cangaçeiro to Columbia Pictures in order to reach the international market, the millions earned by the first world-wide success in the history of Brazilian cinema went to fill the coffers of Hollywood. Nothing demonstrates more clearly the ramifications of a cinema of underdevelopment in the years before it awoke to a new vocation.
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Publication information: Book title: The Oxford History of World Cinema. Contributors: Geoffrey Nowell-Smith - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 435.
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