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date: 25 September 2017

Juliet Barrett Rublee and Flame of Mexico

Summary and Keywords

The 1932 film Flame of Mexico (released in Mexico as Alma mexicana), written and produced by the US feminist activist Juliet Barrett Rublee (b. 1875–d. 1966), provides a window on to political and cultural aspects of US-Mexican relations during the 1920s. A melodrama whose themes include land, education, oil, and the Mexican Revolution, Flame of Mexico takes an activist stance toward international politics, critiques economic exploitation, and argues for US support of Mexican sovereignty in a time of conflict. Addressed to diplomatic circles and mass audiences alike, the message is rendered subtler by its central romantic love story and numerous action sequences drawn from the nascent Hollywood industry, as well as its finely filmed picturesque scenery and its tapestry of regional Mexican music, woven into an appealing soundtrack by leading composers and musicians of the era.

Long overlooked by film historians, Flame of Mexico is a unique artifact in film history: made in the first years of sound cinema, the film contains both intertitles and a synchronized musical score and is a transnational project. Latin American musicians living or working in Los Angeles recorded the score, while a Hollywood crew shot the film in Mexico. The film is credited with being the first feature film about Mexico shot on location in that country, and it preceded Sergei Eisenstein’s unfinished Mexico project, a version of which was released in the United States almost simultaneously with Flame as Thunder over Mexico (1933). Also unique is Flame’s mix of melodrama and travelogue genres; it features a cast of Mexican actors, some of whom would go on to enjoy stable binational acting careers, with US actors playing the gringo villains as well as numerous non-actors playing themselves in ethnographic scenes designed to show, in the words of its producer, “the real Mexico.”

Although masked in the film’s publicity and press reviews, Rublee’s personal, multifaceted history as an activist is key to understanding her film as an important political and cultural undertaking, rather than the extravagant failure that some critics have portrayed, often relying on secondhand opinions without having had access to the film itself. In spite of its limited distribution and meager box-office returns—in the midst of an economic depression—the film is an act of political intervention whose colorful and romantic love story is deployed in the service of a message of peace and transnational cooperation.

Keywords: Juliet Barrett Rublee, Flame of Mexico, Pan-Americanism, US-Mexico relations, silent film history, early sound film history, Mexico in US cinema

In an address given before a primarily intellectual and politically-linked audience at New York’s Roerich Hall on February 4, 1932, the feminist activist and prominent society woman Juliet Barrett Rublee presented her forthcoming film, tentatively titled “Soul of Mexico.” In her speech, she described her intentions in making the film: “Many people still think of it [Mexico] as a land of bandits and dry cactus. It is really the Wonderland of the South, and to have such a beautiful and fascinating country as our next door neighbor, and not to know it better, seemed to me a great pity. So I thought it would be a good idea to show the world the real Mexico, and the best way to do that seemed to be to make a motion picture, as that would reach so many millions of people.” After further description, in which Mexico continues to appear as a land of “sunshine and flowers, of beauty and romance,” Rublee concludes by inviting her viewers to “forget the United States for a little while, and step into MEXICO.”1

Yet in spite of Rublee’s discursive framing of what would appear to be a kind of picturesque travelogue, the film, which would soon be released commercially as Flame of Mexico (1932), does not, in fact, allow the viewer to “forget the United States” in its encounter with her colorful neighbor to the south. On the contrary, Flame of Mexico uses both historical and romantic melodrama to put forth a strong, critical, non-interventionist position consistent with Rublee’s own history as an activist. From the 1915 meeting of women in The Hague that led to the founding of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), to antiwar activism, the League of Nations Paris conference of 1919, as well as other national and international events, Rublee had long espoused the causes of pacifism and internationalism, as well as suffrage for women and reproductive freedom in the birth control movement. It was this history that she brought to Mexico in 1928, when she moved there accompanying her husband, George Rublee, an adviser to then-ambassador Dwight Morrow; and it was this history that she brought to her film, promoted as the first US feature film shot on location in that country. Although largely forgotten by film historians of both nations, Flame of Mexico constitutes a unique and important cultural artifact reflecting a convergence of factors in US-Mexico relations during the 1920s, as well as turning points in both Mexican and US film industries.

Rublee’s film defends the principles of the Mexican Revolution, particularly social justice in a broad sense, and deals with the issue most contentious to US investors and government officials, both during the revolution and at the time of the film’s production: Mexican claims to sovereignty over land and oil. The film takes place during the first days of the political revolution led by Francisco I. Madero, portrayed in Flame in a campaign poster as the “Partido Progresista” and referred to in intertitles as the “Progressives”; its villain, the US oil prospector Thornton (Frank Hagney), uses dirty tricks to appropriate Mexican lands with the intention of exploiting their oil. Counting on the inability of local residents to produce the legal documents that would prove their ownership and occupation of their ancestral lands, Thornton orders his thugs to evict the indigenous community called “Waters of the Rainbow,” territory previously under the dominion of the hacienda owner and conservative politician-patriarch Gonzalo de Aragón (Francisco Martínez). Thorton intends to lay claim to the land in his own name but Rafael (Donald Reed), agrarian activist and the film’s hero, steps in to defend the rights of the community.

After several reels of suspenseful and action-packed melodrama, Rafael, a maderista revolutionary, restores the land to his community without resorting—personally, although the historical armed conflict is an obvious backdrop to the film’s story—to violence; indeed, his rallying cry is for patience, negotiation, legislative change and non-violent struggle. Thorton, by contrast, places his hopes on the counterrevolutionary coup launched by General Victoriano Huerta in 1913 but dies in an accident before he can either reap the benefits of the new regime or leave the country. The film thus proposes that US exploitation of Mexican resources must come to an end, that Mexican sovereignty must be upheld by the US government, as well as respected by the “many millions of people” whom Rublee sought to address.2

Feminism and Pan-Americanism in the 1920s

That a feminist such as Juliet Barrett Rublee would have made a film addressing political issues such as oil rights and Mexican territorial sovereignty should not be a surprise, even though the publicity surrounding the film made little mention of her background apart from her marriage to diplomatic adviser George Rublee. Encouraged by Juliet’s own presentation of her project, the press portrayed her as a generous woman who had fallen in love with the “Wonderland of the South” and had decided to sing its praises in an entertaining movie that promoted, via romance and song, goodwill and harmony between neighboring peoples. This strategy, perhaps calculated to increase the film’s chances of commercial success, belied Rublee’s lengthy activist curriculum and dissociated Flame of Mexico from the history of feminist internationalism in which, nevertheless, it was clearly embedded.

In spite of having little voice in formal politics, women in the United States had publicly expressed opinions on foreign policy since the 19th century. At the turn of the century, women participated in scientific congresses as well as social reform organizations; in the early 1920s, after gaining the vote at home, Pan-Americanist and internationalist women’s groups promoted women’s suffrage in Latin American countries, where they sought to collaborate with and motivate local feminist leaders; and in the late 1920s, they would lead massive and influential campaigns such as the Peace with Mexico campaign of 1926–1927.3

Rublee, who had mixed art and politics since the early part of the century—dancing, for instance, in Percy McKaye’s environmentalist play Sanctuary: A Bird Masque in 1913 alongside the daughters of then-president Woodrow Wilson—was one of many prominent women interested in the international political scene; moreover, as an important player in the birth control movement, she developed connections with leftist intellectuals, some of them, such as Nation editor Ernest Gruening, deeply involved with Mexico. After a 1923 visit to the Yucatán and Mexico City, she would form relationships with Mexican feminists such as Elvia Carrillo Puerto, and her views were more radical (and perhaps less condescending) than those of many Pan-Americanist women.

Given women’s exclusion from the formal political sphere, international scientific congresses provided a key forum for the expression of political views. As Francesca Miller notes, conferences held between 1898 and 1916, attended by doctors, lawyers, and educators of both sexes in various countries, would eventually give rise to the women’s Pan-Americanist movement and the formation of various organizations.4 At these events, women of the Americas, led in some cases by the wives and daughters of diplomats, discussed inter-American “economic, social and political issues.”5 Soon Pan-American Women’s Congresses were held in Baltimore in 1922 and Mexico City in 1923, with varying results. Megan Threlkeld argues that the aims of US and Latin American participants were frequently at odds, and in the specific case of Mexico, US interventionism, particularly in relation to the oil question, was an issue of little consequence to US organizers but of paramount importance to Mexican feminists.6

Nevertheless, while some US women sought to impose their own agenda on their Latin American sisters, others would become part of a broader intellectual movement in defense of the Mexican Revolution and the social and creative renaissance they felt it had produced.7 Rublee, who did not take part in the abovementioned congresses, clearly belonged to this latter group; her position on Mexico would come about first via her involvement with the birth control movement and, finally, in the production of Flame of Mexico at the end of the decade.

Internationalism and the American Birth Control League

In 1916 birth control crusader Margaret Sanger opened the first family planning clinic in the United States, in a poor section of Brooklyn, New York. Although the clinic’s aims were modest, as staff could only supply information and not actual contraceptive methods, its efforts ran afoul of the law, and a police raid, spurred by complaints from the local Catholic Church hierarchy, soon closed it down. Sanger was arrested and Rublee raised money for her defense, forming the Committee of 100 with other wealthy women in support of this then-radical feminist cause. Sanger and Rublee became close friends, and Rublee devoted her energies to the movement; in 1921, she was arrested in a celebrated case that led to a lengthy series of appeals that would test the limits of free speech and police jurisdiction over public discussion of family planning and other “indecent” matters. Serving as one of two vice presidents of the American Birth Control League, Rublee used her social connections to raise funds and awareness for the movement.

Even as it fought for reproductive rights and freedom for censorship at home, the US birth control movement was linked to other organizations and organizers worldwide and maintained a viewpoint that was integrally internationalist. Although it strategically courted eugenics and population control advocates whose views of non-Western countries were often overwhelmingly racist, it also sought to work with female leaders, such as the Baroness Ishimoto (Shidzue Kato) of Japan, whose concern was for the development of women’s rights in their home countries.8 The league’s monthly Birth Control Review often devoted lengthy sections to developments abroad, and in 1923, Mexico came into focus as a flashpoint of birth control activism.

The southern state of Yucatán was the site of feminist congresses in 1916 in which Mexican radicals such as Hermila Galindo had spoken openly about female sexuality and the need for access to birth control and divorce.9 The Yucatán government, headed by Felipe Carrillo Puerto, provided fertile terrain for feminist advancement, due mainly to the efforts and influence of Elvia Carrillo Puerto, the governor’s sister. In June 1923 The Birth Control Review reported on Yucatán’s new voluntary divorce law, and in September of the same year reported that Birth Control League representatives Anne Kennedy and Juliet Barrett Rublee had set out for Yucatán in response to an invitation from the head of the medical department of the local university.

In October, a lengthy report by Kennedy detailed their experiences: besides meeting with Felipe and Elvia Carrillo Puerto and medical personnel in Mérida, where plans were laid for two family planning clinics, their visit took them to Mexico City. There they were able to speak with feminist leaders Elena Torres and Elena Landázuri, longtime allies and contacts for US women’s groups in Mexico, with Torres having participated in the Baltimore Pan American conference of 1922. They were also favorably received by high-ranking officials such as Secretary of Education José Vasconcelos and Finance Minister Adolfo de la Huerta.10 While much of the potential described in the article would be cut short only months later by the de la Huerta rebellion that led, in Yucatán, to the assassination of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, there can be no doubt that the journey to Mexico and the interaction with leaders and intellectuals of both sexes would influence Rublee’s perceptions of the country. If birth control itself is not a subject addressed in Flame of Mexico, the revolutionary and post-revolutionary struggles for land reform, popular education and the creation of progressive institutions form the basis of the film’s pro-Mexican narrative, and in this respect, Rublee’s 1923 experience is crucial to an understanding of the film as a political project, rather than a strictly entertaining fiction or travelogue.

The Oil Question

As early as the third Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) congress in Vienna in 1921 or the Pan-American Conference of Women in Baltimore in 1922, Mexican feminists had made clear the need for women internationalists to address the problem of US economic exploitation in their country, in particular, continuing US ownership of Mexico’s natural resources in spite of the revolutionary claim to sovereignty.11 The 1917 Constitution, in its Article 27, had declared that both the land and its resources, such as petroleum and mineral wealth, belonged to the nation; ten years later, after unceasing debate, negotiation, and hostility, the article was to go into effect on January 1, 1927, such that existing foreign operations would be granted revocable concessions rather than perpetual rights to the oil fields. While the oil legislation did not threaten the companies’ freedom to operate in Mexico, these nevertheless understood it as an affront to private property rights and, indeed, a form of expropriation.

Opposition from powerful US interests was so great, and so influential in political circles (abetted by long-standing racism and growing paranoia over possible “Bolshevism” in the hemisphere), that by the end of 1926, the United States and Mexico seemed to be on the brink of war. In response, women-led peace organizations launched the Peace with Mexico campaign, mobilizing their members to write letters and editorials, send telegrams, and make phone calls to President Calvin Coolidge; in addition, they used many other publicity strategies to turn public opinion against the idea of intervention. Threlkeld, who documents this campaign in detail in Pan American Women, calculates that taken together, the statements in support of peace “represented the opposition of more than ten million people to a war with Mexico.”12

Once again, Juliet Rublee found herself near the epicenter of a pressing international issue involving the two countries. In October 1927, President Coolidge sent Dwight D. Morrow to Mexico as US ambassador, and Morrow invited Rublee’s husband George to accompany him as his legal advisor. Unlike many of his predecessors, Morrow’s style of diplomacy relied on negotiation rather than intimidation. He and George Rublee were “progressive internationalists” who believed that cooperation with other countries, allowing these to prosper, would benefit the United States more in the long run than would the use of force. Juliet shared these views, expressing them clearly in Flame of Mexico, whose script she began to write soon after arriving in Mexico with her husband in 1928, only a month after a compromise agreement on the oil law had been accepted by both governments.

The couple’s friendship with the Morrows (Dwight and his wife Elizabeth) and her husband’s position allowed Rublee to observe the diplomatic conflict between Mexico and the United States firsthand. Several of her home movies (housed at the Library of Congress) show Rublee at the Morrows’ residence in Cuernavaca, “Casa Mañana,” which was an informal gathering place for intellectual and political actors of the time. Correspondence with her friend Margaret Sanger provides Rublee’s uncensored descriptions of lunches and other meetings with high-level political stakeholders, including presidents Plutarco Elías Calles and Álvaro Obregón as well as Archbishop Pascual Díaz y Barreto, a key figure in the negotiations that would put an end to the religious uprising of 1926–1929, known as the Cristero War. Rublee was friends with Moisés Sáenz, sub-secretary of public education, and probably along with the anthropologist Manuel Gamio, instrumental in the revival of interest in Mexico’s indigenous heritage.13 There is little doubt that friendships, social relationships, and proximity to sensitive political negotiations and discussion informed Rublee’s film project as much if not more than her aesthetic admiration of the land and its people.

Filmic Strategies

Rublee made Flame of Mexico to reach a diverse audience in Mexico and, especially, the United States. Because she targeted policymakers and public figures as well as the general moviegoing public, she combined strategies of reason and affect, intending the film to both entertain and persuade. The film thus combines action and melodrama, picturesque backgrounds, ethnographic visual observation and staged rites showcasing local color and exoticism, political debate and romance; or as one of the ads for the film’s Mexican premiere summarized, “love, sacrifice and revolution.”

Juliet Barrett Rublee and Flame of MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 1. Advertisement for the film’s Mexico City premiere. Collection Moving Image Research Center, Library of Congress.

Set in the first years of the revolution against the lengthy dictatorship of President Porfirio Díaz, the story of the protagonist Rafael is also a treatise on the correct way to achieve social change. Like the diplomatic strategies used by Morrow, Rafael consistently argues against hotheaded violent reaction and in favor of peaceful struggle—although battle scenes toward the film’s end, generically labeled “revolution,” indicate an awareness of historical reality. The choice to downplay the ten-year conflict that took approximately a million Mexican lives is a conscious one: for at the time of the film’s making, the important point to emphasize was less this recent history than the Mexican people’s desire for peace and their earnest faith in the institutions created by the Revolution, institutions which the US government and business establishment must now learn to accept and respect.

Flame of Mexico avoids direct references to past or present political actors, especially former president Calles, whose oil policy, anticlericalism, and suspected Bolshevism had brought down the wrath of US conservatives and investors. Yet the reference to oil as the motivation for Thornton’s appropriation of the Waters of the Rainbow lands would not have been missed by spectators tuned in to disputes over the issue. Flame of Mexico’s narrative lays out the problem: Thornton/US companies’ use of manipulation and violence to take over oil-rich lands, and the solution: respect for Mexican sovereignty over her natural resources, as well as for Mexican indigenous communities’ domain over their ancestral lands. To the radicals, however, Rublee counsels patience; as Rafael repeatedly assures his followers, laws that are wrong should not necessarily be violated but rather made to change.

The film’s plot thus addresses complex issues related to real-life political relations; yet to argue in favor of Mexican sovereignty, Rublee also had to confront a long-standing history of racism and stereotyping fomented by the US film industry itself. Flame of Mexico’s anti-interventionism, as a political position, can be seen as compatible with much of US public opinion; after all, the Peace with Mexico campaign had garnered the support of ten million people. However, making Mexicans the protagonists and heroes of the film was, in itself, a bold move in terms of cultural politics; for as Mexican filmmakers, officials and audiences had long protested, US filmmakers had perpetuated a view of Mexico as a lawless land of bandits and “greasers” (often portrayed by non-Mexican actors in brownface), certainly not of self-educated, law-abiding, pacifist heroes like Rafael. Rublee’s strategy to reach these US audiences (whose ideas about Latin America were steeped in negative stereotypes) was, therefore, to use moving images to bring the “real Mexico” to United States screens. Authenticity is thus the cornerstone of Rublee’s campaign, both in the film itself and in its advertising, press releases, and other promotional materials.

Juliet Barrett Rublee and Flame of MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 2. Mexican extras on the set of Flame of Mexico. Collection Moving Image Research Center, Library of Congress.

In her quest for authenticity, Rublee initially shot images for a travelogue. In 1929 she brought well-known travelogue expert John Noel to Mexico. Noel was a captain in the British Army and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, the prestigious London-based organization that was instrumental in organizing the early Mount Everest expeditions. Noel had made two films based on this experience: The Story of Everest (1923), from photographs taken during the climb, and The Epic of Mt. Everest (1924).14 Extant letters and a home movie filmed at the Morrows’ house in Cuernavaca document Noel’s presence in Mexico; in the latter, he is seen holding a camera similar to the one he used for Everest. In March 1929, Rublee was still revising her text for the film, and in April, she and Noel began shooting the Mexican travelogue. During April and May, they traveled “all over Mexico collecting views of outstanding pictorial attractions.”15 After having shot fifteen thousand feet primarily of landscapes, however, Rublee seems to have realized that “pictorial attractions” were not enough to get across the message she hoped to convey; moreover, filming a travelogue would have restricted her to showing it on a circuit that tended to be small.16

Since at least 1926, Rublee had flirted with the idea of commercial film production and had gone so far as to incorporate her own production company, complete with directors and publicly listed stock value.17 In 1926 she had also produced John Dos Passos’s avant-garde play The Moon Is a Gong in New York, hoping (fruitlessly) for Broadway success; but like many dramatists of the period, she sensed that the social impact of theater was giving way to that of the cinema. In June 1929, in order to reach the growing audiences that attended the movies for amusement rather than for lessons in geography, she redesigned her project as a fiction feature, with a romance, conflict, and a musical score that eventually would feature popular Mexican music recorded as synchronized sound and would become one of the film’s primary selling points.

Although her intention was to overcome Hollywood’s stereotypes of Mexico, she brought in a Hollywood crew for the production. However, she used an all-Mexican cast (except for Frank Hagney and Jimmy Hodges as the US characters Thornton and Fry) and relied on non-professional actors for all but the starring roles. The feminine lead, Alicia Ortiz, was promoted as the next Dolores del Río, and her attractive image, a combination of Mary Pickford–like Hollywood femininity and Mexican exoticism, was widely circulated in press and promotional materials.

Juliet Barrett Rublee and Flame of MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 3. Alicia Ortiz as Rosita in Flame of Mexico. Collection Moving Image Research Center, Library of Congress.

Donald Reed (known in Mexico as Ernesto Guillén), as the fiery revolutionary Rafael, was similarly romanticized in photos showing him draped in a serape and playing a guitar, as if to echo his speech in the film in which he argues that what the world needs is “love, love, love!” The protagonists interact with real-life inhabitants of the film’s locations (such as Taxco, Cuernavaca, and Oaxaca), while the earlier “travelogue” landscape shots, showing canals, churches, and especially the great volcanoes, become transitional backdrops.

Juliet Barrett Rublee and Flame of MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 4. The volcano Iztaccihuatl, one of Flame of Mexico’s magnificent backdrops. Collection Moving Image Research Center, Library of Congress.

Mexican Serenade: Song and Romance

In early 1930 Rublee took the film to Los Angeles for editing, and at the same time began to assemble a musical score. The process, judging by archival documents, was complex and gradual. The first composer hired was Charles Dixon, who wrote the film’s theme song, “Love Never Dies,” which would later be translated into Spanish by Yucatec composer Guty Cárdenas, ultimately the film’s principal songwriter. Rublee had heard Cárdenas sing in Los Angeles (and perhaps earlier in Mexico) and secured the rights to several of his songs in 1930. She also hired the composers Nilo Menendez and Arnulfo Miramontes, Cuban and Mexican respectively, to compose the score.

In one of the film’s most poignant portrayals of inequality, the peasants displaced through Thornton’s machinations from their traditional lands—the oil-rich Waters of the Rainbow—are relocated to the “Hot Country” of Oaxaca to labor on another of Don Gonzalo’s haciendas. To add a melancholy and regionally authentic atmosphere to this scene of exile, Rublee used José López Alavés’s 1915 “Canción mixteca”: possibly the first time that this well-known melody would appear in a motion picture, including in the Mexican cinema. She also acquired the talents of the versatile tenor Tito Gúizar, who had signed with CBS and ABC radio networks in 1931, performing regularly on the radio, in benefit concerts and, by the time of Flame’s release, with a folkloric Latin ensemble called Sorey’s Gauchos, whose serapes and sombreros echoed the costuming of Rafael in the film. By 1932, when Rublee was able to transfer the sound recorded on discs to film to meet the new requirements of commercial projection, her soundtrack was both contemporary and authentically Mexican: another way to bring the “real Mexico” to audiences, including Mexicans and US Latinos as well as the non-Hispanic public.

Romance was Rublee’s third strategy to entertain and, at the same time, sustain a non-interventionist political position. Love, overtly in the form of a conventional romance between male and female lead characters, is omnipresent in Flame of Mexico, permeating the narrative as well as the six songs that are featured in the film, several in the form of courtship serenades. The film was, in fact, initially called “Mexican Romance” (1930).18 This romantic excess would seem to be the film’s dominant element and a move away from the kind of radical thinking seen in Rublee’s correspondence with Margaret Sanger or in publications such as Birth Control Review, which embraced, however guardedly, a broad view of human sexuality and psychology. However, the use of romance in Flame of Mexico merits closer examination, for it is not a strategy to erase differences or to minimize female agency, but rather, another aspect of the anti-interventionist argument.

Juliet Barrett Rublee and Flame of MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 5. The lovers Rafael (Donald Reed) and Rosita (Alicia Ortiz) in Flame of Mexico. Collection Moving Image Research Center, Library of Congress.

Given what we know about Rublee’s feminist activism, Rosita (Ortiz’s character) is perhaps a surprising heroine. Unlike the strong, active women such as Sanger, Jane Addams, Isadora Duncan, Elvia Carrillo Puerto, and many others who surrounded Rublee over the course of her life, Rosita is, by comparison, essentially passive: devoted and subservient to her (presumably widowed) father, romantically obsessed with Rafael, willing to sacrifice her own happiness by marrying Thornton in exchange for her father’s economic salvation. She is the object of romantic serenades and heroic rescues, such as when a fire started by Thornton’s callous henchman Fry startles her carriage horses and causes them to gallop away in a mad frenzy. Rafael saves her from death, cementing the attraction she has already felt toward him as a handsome and compelling orator.

When her maid-accomplice (Dolores Robello) brings Rosita a poster depicting Rafael’s face, she gazes at it longingly as if he were a movie star rather than a political candidate; her actions seem to be those of a simple woman dizzied by love. Significantly, the script’s original indications, in which Rosita joins the revolutionary cause at the film’s end as a schoolteacher, “glad to do her share to help the government, knowing that in the training of the children, lies the hope and the future of Mexico,” are omitted from the filmed version.19 Yet her acquiescence to the roles of daughter, wife, and lover do not prevent Rosita from taking bold action when needed: when Rafael is tortured by Thornton’s men and left to die, she and her maid are able to take him to a traditional woman healer, whose herbs and wisdom allow him to recover from his injuries and regain strength to reenter the struggle. Later, in Mexico City at the onset of the Ten Tragic Days (or Decena Trágica, referring to General Huerta’s uprising of 1913), she overhears Thornton and Fry plotting to begin the coup against Madero with a targeted attack on Rafael’s quarters, and is able to warn him, again saving his life (and in the process, freeing herself of Thornton, who dies in the attack).

These actions are romantically motivated, causing reviewer “Mickey Mouse” of La Prensa to comment that the film “revela, entre otras cosas, la abnegación de las mexicanas cuando entregan el corazón a un hombre y no miden dificultades ni condiciones sociales” (reveals, among other things, the abnegation of Mexican women when they hand over their heart to a man and do not consider difficulties nor social conditions). Yet “social conditions” form an integral part of the love story, although not in the limited sense suggested by the Prensa reviewer: that is, the class differences that should, theoretically keep Rafael and Rosita apart. Rafael’s politics are part of what makes him attractive to Rosita, in particular his defense of Mexico’s downtrodden peons and indigenous villagers; indeed, Rosita also seeks to defend these against Thornton’s scheming but is unable to convince her father of the latter’s ignoble intentions (until these become obvious late in the film). Although Rafael and Rosita belong to different social classes, they share progressive political views and faith in Mexico’s revolutionary future; in contrast to a conventional romance in which heterosexual union is an end in itself, here social justice is both a common goal and the condition that allows the romantic relationship to flourish.

Moreover, although Thornton exploits her father’s debts to appropriate Rosita’s hand in marriage the same way he takes over don Gonzalo’s land, the attempt fails, and she returns to Rafael. In other words, the Mexican heroine does not fall in love with the US character as a means of erasing differences, a possible peacemaking strategy that would imply acceptance of the patriarchal exchange of women as property (common to both US and Mexican cinema); rather, Rosita falls in love with another Mexican, and the two, despite her privileged status as the daughter of a hacienda owner, join forces to enact revolutionary change.

Flame of Mexico’s romance between two Mexicans, underscored by Mexican love songs, is a strategy to channel audiences’ emotional responses; its underlying message is less the love between the characters than the love that audiences are meant to feel for the couple, the struggling peasants whose rights they defend, and, most importantly, for Mexico itself. The “Mexican romance” is the focus of the advertising campaign. The film’s magnificent posters display the lovers singing, against lush garden backdrops with the majestic volcanoes Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl in the distance. When transposed to the binational arena in which Rublee created the film, this overpowering atmosphere of love is a political tool that supports a non-interventionist, non-aggressive policy toward Mexico.

Conclusion

Did Flame of Mexico’s action-packed, politically charged, musically seductive romance move “millions of people” toward a new understanding of the “Wonderland of the South”? Unfortunately for Rublee, by the time her film was ready for release, the Depression was taking its toll on the country; though a great wave of Latin-themed pictures would soon be released as Hollywood attempted to comply with government directives to ward off the looming Nazi threat by deploying a Good Neighbor Policy in its treatment of Latin America, this moment had not yet arrived.

The rise of the major studios also made it increasingly difficult for an independent producer such as Rublee to distribute her work in commercial theaters, and the advent of the talkies displaced the silent films, even those with such a lavish, attractive soundtrack as Flame of Mexico. Although Rublee toyed with the idea of redoing the film with dialogue, her already excessive investment (over $150,000 according to a New York World-Telegram article from December 21, 1931) and consequent financial difficulties made it impossible for her to spend any more on the project. The deaths of two men connected closely to the film, Dwight Morrow in October 1931 and Guty Cárdenas in April 1932, can perhaps be seen as a portent of the shadow that would fall over the film almost immediately upon release.

Audience response to the film was varied. In the United States, small progressive audiences, academics, upper-middle-class intellectuals, and especially Pan-Americanists reacted quite positively to the film. The Rublee collection at the Library of Congress contains correspondence to this effect between Rublee and organizations such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the World Peace Foundation. Flame of Mexico was understood by these groups as a passionate defense of arbitration and support for economic and political cooperation between the United States and Mexico. After viewing the film at its Washington premiere, Leo Stanton Rowe, director-general of the Pan-American Union, wrote to Rublee acknowledging her service “both to Mexico and the United States”: “You have placed us all under a deep debt of obligation,” he wrote, and suggested that others follow Rublee’s path.

Juliet Barrett Rublee and Flame of MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 6. Invitation to a private pre-screening of the film at New York’s Roerich Hall. Collection Moving Image Research Center, Library of Congress.

In a similar vein, José Sales Díaz, representing the Pan-American Information Service (SIPA), lauded Rublee’s courage in showing the world the true “soul of Mexico.” Flame of Mexico’s success among these internationalist audiences legitimized Rublee’s effort, and after the film’s embassy-sponsored prescreening at Roerich Hall in February 1932, she became a celebrity among Mexican specialists. That same month, she was invited to a dinner in honor of Moisés Sáenz held in New York by the Conference on Immigration Policy, which featured Sáenz’s keynote address, “Mexicans in the Making.” Rublee formed part of the speaker’s table and participated in the discussion that followed Sáenz’s speech.20

Flame of Mexico was also successful among travelogue aficionados. Thank-you letters from individuals supporting inter-American cooperation arrived regularly in Rublee’s mailbox; the letters were filled with praise for her positive and genuine representation of Mexico, its land, and its people. In a 1934 speech, Rublee mentions several individuals who had decided to visit the country after having seen Flame of Mexico; and letters show that on several occasions she was invited to produce films about Mexico or other foreign countries. A book project was also proposed, although once the initial enthusiasm over the film died down the publication never came to fruition.

Mass audiences in the United States, however, did not react as positively. After its Washington premiere, Flame of Mexico showed in New York and in Boston, where it ran for a week: August 15–21, 1932. Box office records from Boston’s Fine Arts Theater indicate that it made only $555, of which Rublee received $38. Despite a well-organized publicity campaign that included lobby decorations such as serapes and large color lithographed posters portraying the film’s amorous protagonists against an exotic backdrop, Flame of Mexico failed to attract sufficient attention to recuperate costs, which in part explains why the film was never widely distributed but rather limited to selected markets.

Juliet Barrett Rublee and Flame of MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 7. Caption: Invitation to the film’s premiere at the Rialto Theater in Washington, DC. Collection Moving Image Research Center, Library of Congress.

In the US press, reviews were mixed. Most were positive, exalting the scenery, the soundtrack, and the uplifting storyline, as well as Rublee’s own heroic effort as producer. However, the fact of a US-produced film made in and about Mexico was treated as a novelty, a category that is by definition limiting, especially in terms of popular appeal. Moreover, the frequent mentions of the film’s technical specifications (i.e., silent with recorded music) suggest that its reliance on written rather than spoken dialogue was already considered old-fashioned.

Furthermore, not all reviewers were enthusiastic about Rublee’s anti-interventionist position. Writing after the Roerich Hall prescreening, New York Herald-Tribune reviewer M. T. commented that although the attractive scenery functioned as a travelogue, the clumsy combination of “old-time Western melodrama” with an earnest political message meant that “the picture is neither one thing or another.” While the writer did not elaborate on his critique of Flame of Mexico’s story as “unconvincing,” he was clearly put off by what he saw as the film’s “ambition to be propaganda.”21

Reception in Mexico was somewhat different, given that Mexican reviewers, long accustomed to treatment of their country in US films through the Manichean lens of the bandit-themed Western, were at once welcoming of and puzzled by Rublee’s attempt to portray Mexico and its recent revolution in a positive light. Rublee’s visit to Mexico City in August 1932 to present the film’s Spanish-language version, Alma Mexicana, included numerous press conferences in preparation for the September 8 premiere at the Olimpia Theater. In fact, the difficulties with the August presentation in Boston can partly be attributed to a lack of attention on the part of Rublee, given her early departure for Mexico and the need to mobilize her contacts and mount a press campaign in that country.

Although the film had passed censorship and had been given the green light by President Portes Gil in 1929, and had received glowing responses from Mexican functionaries such as Moisés Sáenz and José Manuel Puig Casaraunc early in its production, the intervening years had altered the political and cultural landscape; Morrow was gone, political authorities had changed, and even representations of the revolution, in the emergent cinema of Mexico, were beginning to create a different context for the film’s message than would have existed at the end of the previous decade. Rublee’s Mexican press campaign, which exuded Pan-American goodwill even as it promoted the film’s attractions such as its music and its stars Alicia Ortiz and Donald Reed, was clearly a strategic necessity.

The Mexican press highlighted Rublee’s generous appreciation for their nation as well as her astonishing financial investment in the project. El Universal Gráfico summed up the general attitude in describing Alma mexicana as an “extraño caso de cariño al país” (a strange case of love for the country).22 Nothing was said about Rublee’s feminist background or previous involvement with Mexico through the Birth Control League; instead, articles depicted Rublee as a society woman with good intentions, legitimized to a certain extent by her connection to the Morrow embassy via her husband, but not quite to be taken seriously. The title of one interview with Rublee, “Gran Dama Neoyorquina, Amante de México” (New York Grande Dame, Lover of Mexico), is representative: omitting completely the social justice component of Rublee’s “strange love” for Mexico, the headline focuses on Rublee’s wealth, as if she were a member of the decadent New York elite portrayed in Diego Rivera’s murals, as well as part of the emergent tourist trade: one of the buyers of “Mexican curios” so often criticized by Mexico’s progressive intellectual sector.23 In this and other articles, the film comes across as the pastime of a wealthy socialite, rather than a progressive message of peace between nations.

Flame of Mexico/Alma mexicana was, nevertheless, exhibited in Mexico and in theaters across the United States, including in cities with large Hispanic populations such as San Antonio and Los Angeles, where part of the press coverage came from local Spanish-language media. While some distribution attempts failed, others, such as the film’s screenings in New Jersey, were apparently quite successful. How, then, to explain this film’s disappearance from cinema history? Flame of Mexico’s only known surviving print is held in the Library of Congress, where it awaits the funding and authorizations that would permit its restauration. Such a restoration would allow for wider discussion of the film and its complex interrelations with Pan-Americanist, feminist, and birth control movements as well as the cinemas of both countries, diplomatic history, and Rublee’s trajectory, not only as a “lover of Mexico,” but as a woman with strong, controversial political views who was bold enough to put them forward in protest meetings, marches, committees, lectures, and finally in film: that is, as a multifaceted and internationalist cultural promotor and innovator.

Discussion of the Literature

To date, little has been written on either Juliet Barrett Rublee or on Flame of Mexico, her only film apart from a series of home movies from the 1920s (also held at the Library of Congress). She is mentioned briefly in histories of birth control, including Margaret Sanger’s 1938 autobiography and Ellen Chesler’s Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America.24 Due to her participation in the Cornish Art Colony, a short biography appears in Virginia Reed Colby and James B. Atkinson’s Footprints of the Past: Images of Cornish, New Hampshire, and the Cornish Art Colony.25 An unpublished 1982 paper by Paul Marashio, titled “A Feminist Voice in New Hampshire,” and a 1994 University of Texas thesis by Jane Elkind Bowers, “‘Oceans of Love’: An Introduction to & Excerpts from Juliet Barrett Rublee's Letters to Margaret Sanger” complete the scarce bibliography on this ubiquitous yet little-known feminist figure.26

A similar void in the literature exists for Flame of Mexico. Except for its inclusion in reference works such as the American Film Institute’s 1932 catalogue and Emilio García Riera’s México visto por el cine extranjero, 1894–1940,27 the first scholar to write about the film was Isabel Arredondo in 2010, in “From Travelogues to Political Intervention in Juliet Barrett Rublee’s Flame of Mexico,” published in Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos, in which she discusses travelogue filmmaking and Flame of Mexico’s relationship to this popular early 20th-century genre. In 2013, she contributed to the online Women Film Pioneers Project with the entry “Juliet Barrett Rublee,” an overview that effectively introduced Rublee and her work to the feminist film studies community.28 Arredondo and Elissa Rashkin subsequently collaborated on the essays “Juliet Barrett Rublee y la Revolución Mexicana,” emphasizing Rublee’s activism in the Mexican context, and “Serenata transnacional por la paz: Juliet Barrett Rublee y Flame of Mexico,” focusing particularly on the use of music in the film as a strategy for bridging borders.29

Despite being a potentially fruitful line of inquiry, there are no articles or serious discussions of Flame of Mexico’s relation to Sergei Eisenstein’s unfinished Mexican project.30Que viva Mexico was shot a year after Rublee’s film and shares with the latter a common social, political, artistic and intellectual context, as well as complex industrial conditions marked by the transition to sound. Like Rublee, Eisenstein began a travelogue that he never completed;31 moreover, it is likely that the Russian director was inspired by Rublee’s depiction of Rafael buried and tortured in retribution for his defense of his community. Eisenstein, too, shot a scene in which a peon, Sebastián, was trampled by horses as a brutal form of punishment. This scene first appeared publicly in Thunder over Mexico (1933), the film that Eisenstein’s sponsor, Upton Sinclair, edited and released using Eisenstein’s unfinished footage.

It is possible that Eisenstein became aware of or even saw Rublee’s rushes during his Hollywood stay in May 1930. Rublee had employed a Russian lab assistant from Hollywood to run the lab she set up in Mexico in 1929; another possible connection was Witter Bynner, Rublee’s old friend from Cornish, who wrote in 1932 about having seen “a good deal” of Eisenstein in Mexico.32 A letter from another friend, Zona Gale, suggesting that Eisenstein’s film contained Rublee’s scene “in a new form” confirms that Rublee knew about the trampled peon in Thunder over Mexico. The two filmmakers depict similar images of the torture of farmworkers as an aspect of class inequality during the Porfiriato, and this coincidence needs to be further studied.

Juliet Barrett Rublee and Flame of MexicoClick to view larger

Figure 8. Caption: Rafael, defender of rural villagers and victim of repression in Flame of Mexico. Collection Moving Image Research Center, Library of Congress.

Primary Sources

Flame of Mexico is housed in the Moving Image Research Center, part of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division of the Library of Congress. Only a few fragmentary reels were included in the collection until a print was acquired in 2010 from collector Janice Allen; however, this print has yet to be restored. Several reels of home movie footage, from approximately 1925 to 1929, are also housed in the center; these include images of Mexico as well as Nassau, Bahamas; Cornish, New Hampshire; and a diving expedition organized by Rublee off the coast of Italy in 1926. The same archive, in its Juliet Barrett Rublee Papers, includes documentary material such as press clippings, correspondence, stills, and receipts related to the production and exhibition of the film, and posters can be viewed in the library’s Print and Photograph Division.

Further information about Flame of Mexico, in a more personal vein, may be found in the correspondence between Rublee and her close friend Margaret Sanger. Rublee’s letters are reproduced in the microfilm edition of the Margaret Sanger Papers in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College (extracted from the Juliet Barrett Rublee Papers at the same institution), while Sanger’s letters to Rublee are primarily held in the Juliet Barrett Rublee Papers at Dartmouth College, along with documents including Marashio’s unpublished biographical essay, correspondence from George Rublee and from Juliet’s friends in England (a close-knit circle that also included Sanger) and others.

Both the Smith and Dartmouth collections are somewhat fragmentary, due to the unusual history of their assembly: as Paul Glantz relates in a letter to a librarian at the New York Public Library (to which he donated a small set of documents regarding the friendship between Rublee and the dancer Isadora Duncan), Rublee’s papers were retrieved from a garbage dump near her Cornish home, whose residents at the time clearly considered them to be of little value.33 Nevertheless these collections allow us to reconstruct much of Rublee’s history, including her thoughts on Flame of Mexico and many of her experiences in that country.

Further Reading

Arredondo, Isabel. “From Travelogues to Political Intervention in Juliet Barret Rublee’s Flame of Mexico.” Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 26.1 (Winter 2010): 79–93.Find this resource:

Arredondo, Isabel. “Juliet Barrett Rublee.” In Women Film Pioneers Project. Edited by Jane Gaines, Radha Vatsal, and Monica Dall’Asta. New York: Columbia University Libraries, Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, 2013.Find this resource:

Bowers, Jane. “‘Oceans of Love’: An Introduction to and Excerpts from Juliet Barrett Rublee’s Letters to Margaret Sanger.” MA thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1994.Find this resource:

Chesler, Ellen. Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America. New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday, 1992.Find this resource:

Delpar, Helen. The Enormous Vogue of Things Mexican: Cultural Relations between the United States and Mexico, 1920–1935. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1992.Find this resource:

Lemaître, Monique J.Elvia Carrillo Puerto. La Monja Roja del Mayab. Monterrey: Ediciones Castillo, 1998.Find this resource:

McClure, Marc. Earnest Endeavors: The Life and Public Work of George Rublee. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.Find this resource:

Rashkin, Elissa, and Isabel Arredondo. “Juliet Barrett Rublee y la Revolución Mexicana.” In Género en la encrucijada de la historia social e cultural en México. Edited by Susie Porter and María Teresa Fernández Aceves, 233–263. Zamora/México: El Colegio de Michoacán and CIESAS-Occidente, 2015.Find this resource:

Rashkin, Elissa, and Isabel Arredondo. “Serenata transnacional por la paz: Juliet Barrett Rublee y Flame of Mexico.” In La historia intelectual y el movimiento de las ideas en América Latina, siglos XIX–XX. Edited by Rogelio de la Mora and Hugo Cancino, 498–518. Xalapa, Ver.: Universidad Veracruzana, 2015.Find this resource:

Rashkin, Elissa, and Isabel Arredondo. “Serenata transnacional por la paz: Juliet Barrett Rublee y Flame of México.” Balajú, Revista de Cultura y Comunicación 2.1 (January–July 2015): 3–29.Find this resource:

Slowik, Michael. After the Silents: Hollywood Film Music in the Early Sound Era. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Threlkeld, Megan. Pan American Women: U.S. Internationalists and Revolutionary Mexico. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Notes:

(1.) “Address by Mrs. Juliet Barrett Rublee, Roerich Hall, Feb. 4.” Undated typescript, Box 89, Juliet Barrett Rublee Papers, Moving Image Research Center, Library of Congress, Washington, DC (henceforth LOC).

(2.) Flame of Mexico was promoted variously as produced or “personally supervised” by Rublee, and contemporary materials—letters, advertising, posters, reviews, interviews and so on—leave no doubt as to Rublee’s authorship of the film, in spite of David Kirkland’s participation as director. Other crew members include German-born Hollywood photographer Jules Cronager and technical director Jorge Ahumada, Rublee’s right-hand man during her stay in Mexico and also later in the United States. The film’s cast consists of Donald Reed a.k.a. Ernesto Guillén (Rafael), Alicia Ortiz (Rosita), Francisco Martínez (Don Gonzalo de Aragón), Frank Hagney (Thornton), Jimmy Hodges (Fry), and Dolores Robello (LeAye).

(3.) Megan Threlkeld, Pan American Women: U.S. Internationalists and Revolutionary Mexico (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014).

(4.) Francesca Miller, “The International Relations of Women of the Americas 1890–1928,” The Americas 43.2 (October 1986): 173.

(5.) The Pan-American International Women’s Committee grew out of the Women’s Auxiliary Conference organized by wives of male attendees of the Second Pan-American Scientific Congress, held in Washington, DC, during December 1915 and January 1916 (Threlkeld, Pan American Women, 24). The quoted text, in Miller (“International,” 171), is from E. B. Swiggett, “Report of the Second Pan American Scientific Congress,” July 1, 1916.

(6.) See, for instance, Threlkeld, Pan American Women, 44, 50, 99–109.

(7.) Helen Delpar, The Enormous Vogue of Things Mexican: Cultural Relations between the United States and Mexico, 1920–1935 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1992).

(8.) Sanger’s international communications, such as those with Shizue Ishimoto as well as papers relevant to Mexico and other countries, are collected in Margaret Sanger Papers, Box 28, Reels 18–19, LOC.

(9.) Galindo did not attend, but her speech was read aloud and provoked discussion of these controversial issues. See Martha Eva Rocha Islas, “Feminismo y revolución,” in Un fantasma recorre el siglo. Luchas feministas en México, 1910–2010, eds. Gisela Espinosa Damian and Ana Lau Jaiven (Mexico, DF: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, 2011), 47–48.

(10.) Anne Kennedy, “Birth Control in Mexico,” in “News Notes,” Birth Control Review, October 1923, 254–256.

(11.) Threlkeld, Pan American Women, 42–45, 59.

(12.) Threlkeld, Pan American Women, 135.

(13.) In a December 11, 1928, letter to George Rublee included among Juliet’s papers, Gamio thanks him for their trip to the Valley of Teotihuacán and sends him an article about indigenous law in Mexico (Box 89, Juliet Barrett Rublee Papers, LOC).

(14.) The Story of Everest was intended for George Mallory, head of the expedition, who planned to use Noel’s filmed photographs in his lectures. Noel photographed and helped to fund the 1924 Royal Geographical Society’s Everest expedition. After Mallory’s death, Noel took on the role of “official” lecturer, using his own material, both still and moving pictures. Thanks to Sandra Noel for providing us this information.

(15.) Rublee to Sanger, June 28, 1929. Juliet Barrett Rublee Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, Mass.

(16.) The Rublee footage at the LOC contains most of Noel and Rublee’s unedited images. These consist mainly of panoramic views, including the volcanos Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl; the archaeological site of Teotihuacan; still photographs of pre-Hispanic sculptures and objects; and locations in Taxco, Xochimilco and Lake Patzcuaro. While this list indicates the extent of their travels in central and central-western Mexico, it is worth noting that Rublee was unsuccessful in arranging a visit to Chichen Itza, whose restoration was then underway under the leadership of Sylvanus Morley and his team from the Carnegie Institution. Rublee wrote to Morley to see if she could visit on her way to Mexico City, but her telegram was lost (Morley to Rublee, April 13, 1929, Box 89, Juliet Barrett Rublee Papers, LOC).

(17.) For example, Rublee’s motion picture production company appears in the listings for “Incorporations” in Variety, April 28, 1926, and in “New Incorporations” in New York Times, April 24, 1926, with 200 shares of preferred stock listed at $100 each and $1000 common. Several directors are listed at an upper Manhattan address, with no attorney given.

(18.) Other preliminary titles were “Heart of Mexico” and “Soul of Mexico,” the latter conserved in translation in the film’s version presented in Mexico City, Alma mexicana.

(19.) Script and synopsis, Box 88, Juliet Barrett Rublee Papers, LOC.

(20.) Correspondence, February 29, 1932, Box 89, Juliet Barrett Rublee Papers, LOC.

(21.) M.T., “‘Soul of Mexico’ Shown Before Invited Audience,” New York Herald-Tribune, February 5, 1932.

(22.) “Historia de una película sobre México,” El Universal Gráfico, September 5, 1932.

(23.) This interview by Fernando Mota is included, as are the others mentioned here, in a clipping file in the Juliet Barrett Rublee Papers (LOC); publication information is missing, although it would appear to be from one of Mexico City’s cultural weeklies.

(24.) Margaret Sanger, The Autobiography of Margaret Sanger (Mineola, NY: Dover, 2004); and Ellen Chesler, Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America (New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday, 1992).

(25.) Virginia Reed Colby and James B. Atkinson, Footprints of the Past: Images of Cornish, New Hampshire, and the Cornish Art Colony (Concord: New Hampshire Historical Society, 1996, rev. ed. 2010): 344–348.

(26.) Paul Marashio, “A Feminist Voice in N. H., Juliet Barrett Rublee,” unpublished essay, Juliet Rublee Collection, Dartmouth College, MS 731, 1982; and Jane Elkind Bowers, “‘Oceans of Love’: An Introduction to and Excerpts from Juliet Barrett Rublee’s Letters to Margaret Sanger” (MA thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1994).

(27.) Emilio García Riera, México visto por el cine extranjero, 1894–1940 (Guadalajara: Universidad de Guadalajara, Centro de Investigaciones y Enseñanzas Cinematográficas, Ediciones Era, 1987).

(28.) Isabel Arredondo, “Juliet Barrett Rublee,” in Women Film Pioneers Project, eds. Jane Gaines, Radha Vatsal, and Monica Dall’Asta (New York: Columbia University Libraries, Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, 2013).

(29.) Elissa Rashkin and Isabel Arredondo, “Juliet Barrett Rublee y la Revolución Mexicana,” in Género en la encrucijada de la historia social e cultural en México, eds. Susie Porter and María Teresa Fernández Aceves (Zamora/México: El Colegio de Michoacán and CIESAS-Occidente, 2015): 233–263; “Serenata transnacional por la paz: Juliet Barrett Rublee y Flame of Mexico,” in La historia intelectual y el movimiento de las ideas en América Latina, siglos XIX-XX, eds. Rogelio de la Mora V. and Hugo Cancino (Xalapa: Universidad Veracruzana, 2015): 498–518; and a slightly modified version of “Serenata transnacional por la paz” appeared in Balajú, Revista de Cultura y Comunicación (Universidad Veracruzana), 2.1 (January–July 2015): 3–29.

(30.) Aurelio de los Reyes includes a lengthy footnote on this subject in his study of Eisenstein, El nacimiento de ¡Que Viva México! (Mexico, DF: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2006): 206–207, note 49. Thanks to de los Reyes for helping locate the print of Flame in the Allen collection, the only known copy in existence.

(31.) An argument between Sinclair and Eisenstein in a letter dated December 16, 1930, documents the filmmaker’s decision not to make a travelogue film ( Harry Geduld and Ronald Gottesman, eds., Sergei Eisenstein and Upton Sinclair: The Making and Unmaking of “Que Viva Mexico!” Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1970): 32.

(32.) Reed Colby and Atkinson, Footprints of the Past, 347.

(33.) Isadora Duncan 1877–1927, Letters and Career Information, Folder 2: letters from Alice Spicer to Juliet Barrett Rublee written at the time of Duncan’s death (1927). Katharine Cornell-Guthrie McClintic Special Collections Reading Room, Library for the Performing Arts, New York Public Library, New York, NY.