What Price Dignity?

Dolores del Rio Spent Hollywood's Good Fortune on a Respectable Career

The endurance: Dolores Del Rio (at right) in 'Maria Candelaria'
Museum of Modern Art
The endurance: Dolores Del Rio (at right) in 'Maria Candelaria'

In truth, del Rio's cinematic résumé won't leave anyone breathless. Probably more effective in silent films (many of them lost) than in the sound era, she stunningly embodied both joy and grief in Evangeline, while exuding a perfect porcelain saintliness in The Fugitive. Certainly she never disgraced herself onscreen, despite being hamstrung by boneheaded Hollywood scripts and studio myopia. To her eternal credit, she deep-sixed Hollywood before it completely deep-sixed her, reinventing herself as a star in Mexico as she exercised control over her own career--an intrepid and virtually unprecedented move. (Oddly, Welles followed her lead, but in Europe.) "There are 10,000 disappointments facing anyone who goes into this business," del Rio once explained, "and discipline will give you the guts to get through them, to not let them destroy you, and to help you endure."

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