Mexican Movies in the United States:  A History of the Films, Theaters and Audiences 1920-1960

(published by McFarland and available from them and from major online bookstores)

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Author:                                        Rogelio Agrasánchez Jr.

ISBN:                                             978-0-7864-6410-4

Publisher:                                         McFarland Publishers

Language:                                        English

Binding:                                           Hardcover (2006) and softcover (2011)

216 pp.; 80 illustrations in b&w; tables; 7” x 10”; annex: a list of theaters that catered to Spanish-speaking audiences all over the United States; first edition in hardcover, 2006; first edition in softcover, 2011.

This book was written by Rogelio Agrasánchez Jr. It is the result of years of research, as well as the author's personal contact with the business of distribution and exhibition of Mexican films.

Agrasánchez found and salvaged original documents related to the distribution and exhibition of Spanish-language films in the United States. The most relevant collection of documents he found was the Clasa-Mohme records and correspondence.  Clasa-Mohme was one of the three major distributors of Mexican films in the United States.

Since the finding of the Clasa-Mohme documents, Agrasánchez began his research on the subject.  He interviewed executives that had worked in film distribution; film exhibitors and moviegoers.  He also consulted almost every U.S. newspaper that contained information about Mexican cinema exhibition, from 1920 to 1960.  Other primary sources, such as the Interstate Theater Circuit records, were researched for the book.

‘Mexican Movies in the United States: A History of the Theaters, Films and Audiences 1920-1960’ is an introduction to the subject of distribution and exhibition of Mexican cinema in this country, appealing not only to historians or researchers, but to the general public too.

Even though approximately 600 U.S. venues regularly exhibited Mexican films in the 1950s, no books existed on the subject at the time this volume was published.  This volume intended to fill that gap and to encourage other researchers to follow this line of study.

The book offers a concise look at selected U.S. regions where Mexican cinema was exhibited: Los Angeles and the Pomona Valley in California; New York City; El Paso, San Antonio, and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

It also abounds in information about moviegoing preferences and habits among Spanish-speaking audiences in the United States, as well as the deep meaning Mexican cinema had for immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

From the publisher:

About the Book

A surge of immigration in the United States in the 1920s coincided with burgeoning developments in entertainment--including cinema. Movie houses sprang up in areas where Latin American populations were concentrated and the advent of talkies propelled the Spanish speaking movie industry into high gear. As the U.S. entered World War II, films from Mexico dominated that industry, creating a culture of Mexican cinema that offered entertainment, a reflection of native values and customs, and a link to the homeland.

This book is a richly detailed look at Mexican cinema’s boom years in the United States, 1920 to 1960. Chapters focus on the appeal of Mexican cinema and the venues that evolved where Hispanic populations were centered. Theaters, distributors, audience demographics, popular and critical reception of the films, and stars all receive attention. Included are lists of theaters in California, Texas and cities in other states that exhibited Mexican films between 1920 and 1960.

About the Author

Rogelio Agrasanchez, Jr., is director and curator of the Agrasanchez Film Archive in Harlingen, Texas, the world’s largest private collection of Mexican cinema. He is the author of several books.


"a vital resource...detailed historical accounts...Agrasanchez provides a foundation for new directions in film historical research"--Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies