Ray Bradbury Theater – Sun and Shadow (10/03/92)

a/k/a Sun and Shaddow, as the DVD menu spells it.

We open on a Mexican coastal town.  In a casa over-looking the village square, a woman says, “Breakfast, husband.  And son of the father who is my husband.” Is that the way Mexican women talk?  I had to play it three times to make sense of it.

Ricardo, the father of the son whose mother is his wife is looking from the balcony at the beautiful day.  Suddenly several vans and a Porsche roll into the square and a Hollywood film crew leaps from the vehicles, scattering to their positions.  There is the bumbling rbtsunandshadow03crew, the hot model, and the arrogant director.  So I guess, some stereotypes are alright.

Ricardo is happy with none of this as they have chosen his stairway for the location, and lured his son Tomas to the street to watch the excitement.  The director realizes what is happening and offers Ricardo a few Pesos to use his home.  Ricardo still insists that he move on.  The director, not used to a principled man says, “What?  Move my crew?  All this equipment?  Now?”  Mind you, this entire set-up occurred in the time it took Ricardo to walk down a flight of stairs.

So they move one street over as Ricardo continues to tell off the director for thinking of his people as cardboard cutouts, and his house as a prop.  Once they start filming, Tomas is in the way, so they give him a serape, a sombrero and tell him not to smile as the camera pans across him.  Ricardo shows up again, angry that his son his being used as a prop and orders him home.  Tomas takes off, but with the American dollars still in his pocket, and still wearing the serape and hat, I notice.

The crew starts filming again, this time at the home of Ricardo’s neighbor Jorge who seems to have no problem with it.  Like a classic American do-gooder, Ricardo feels he must explain to Jorge that he is too stupid to understand what is going on.

rbtsunandshadow06The producer of the commercial arrives.  Ricardo puts on a little show for everyone asking what he can do to look more Mexican for their clown show (which he isn’t in, anyway) — sweat a little more?  Grow his hair a little longer?  Tear a hole in his shirt?  He is indignant that his people are being exploited and is adamant in being a role-model for the dignity of his people in the face of these interlopers.

So he walks into the shot and drops his pants.

The production moves to the beach to get away from this nut, but he has already proclaimed the sky as his, so this seems unlikely to work.  The producer decides to “try harder” to buy him off.  Reflecting the low budget of the series, his open wallet briefly exposes a fan of singles.

A policeman finally arrives, and the director illustrates the problem.  As he starts shooting, Ricardo walks into the shot followed by a crowd of his neighbors, stands between the girls (a second has mysteriously become part of the commercial), and drops his pants again.

Again with the speeches, he says that as long as there is one man like him in ten thousand in every city, things will be good.  Without him, chaos.  Even Tomas gives back the money he was paid.  Once again, a single is prominent on top of the fold. They couldn’t have spared a Benjamin?   Just for the outer note?

rbtsunandshadow09There could have been something here, but it was all so simplistic.  The director did not ask permission to use the location — that was wrong.  Ricardo would not take money to allow the location to be use — entirely his decision.  But then he sabotages the production at his neighbor’s house, and on the beach.  What was his point?  They were just looking for a location, no one was being mocked.  Even dressing up Tomas was just throwing the kid a bone.

Ricardo is clearly an intelligent man, but he is reacting like an ancient tribesman who thinks a photograph is going to steal his soul.  Fine, he drove the production out of town instead of them working locally, spreading around a few dollars, bringing a little excitement to the village, probably throwing a kick-ass party that night, and everyone sharing a little weed.  Nice work.  Hey, Mexico, you have those fascistic, know-it-all, do-gooders, too?

rbtsunandshadow08Other than the misguided actions of Ricardo, there were some good points to the episode.  The director was suitably arrogant, British and pony-tailed.  The locations, ironically, were interesting.  And Gregory Sierra, despite his character’s baffling philosophy, was excellent.  He has nothing on IMDb this century — I hope it’s because he just retired on a pile of money, because he was always a great actor.



2 thoughts on “Ray Bradbury Theater – Sun and Shadow (10/03/92)

  1. Once again, Ray Bradbury uses hyperbole to make a point. Yes, Ricardo is quirky, and has apparently thrown away an opportunity for his village to make some quick cash. But it’s the Film Crew’s assumption that it owns (at least temporarily) whatever chunk of property it chooses to drop its gear on that’s flawed. The “production” involved is merely a commercial. But that’s not the point. How would YOU feel if it were arbitrarily decided that your house, your friends or your street would make great backdrops for (say) a Propaganda Film — or a Doc on Kiddie Porn? “Spreading some shekels” and Wishing All a Good Day does NOT make everything right!

    • Point well made, Anna! How would that producer have felt if a van load of Mexicans appeared on his property, setting up equipment and barking orders? He would have been on the phone to the Police faster than you can say “La Bamba.”

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