Juan Antonio Bardem


Spanish director Juan Antonio Bardem, who pioneered a cinema mixing social commitment and international stars under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, died Oct. 30 at the Monteprincipe Clinic in Madrid after suffering a heart attack. He was 80 and had long suffered from liver illness.

A strapping figure with a shock of hair, huge glasses and a matinee idol’s smile, Bardem was Spain’s first director to gain international recognition for his opposition to Franco’s regime, winning the international critics prize for “Death of the Cyclist” at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955.

“Cyclist,” an acid criticism of middle-class hypocrisy, and “Main Street” (1956), a put-down of Spanish provincialism, are hailed as Bardem’s best films and prime examples of Spanish neo-realism.

Bardem draw on a wide range of inspirations: liberal American movies of the 1950s, Spanish comic sketches and his own brilliance at directing actors.

Born into an acting family, he extracted a magnificent performance from Betsy Blair in “Calle Mayor,” for instance. Bardem also co-directed the admired “That Happy Couple” with Luis Garcia Berlanga.

His influence over younger directors was huge. According to helmer Mario Camus, Spanish filmmakers of the ’60s were all disciples of one of the three B’s: Luis Bunuel, Berlanga or Bardem.

“Revenge” (1957), a plea for national reconciliation, was savaged by the censors. After that, Bardem, a communist since 1943, was as much admired for his resilient convictions as his cinema.

With exceptions such as the magnificent provincial drama “Nothing Ever Happens” (1963), however, his cinema largely degenerated into a series of workmanlike potboilers until Franco’s death in 1975.

“Seven Days in January,” based on the assassination of five labor lawyers in 1977, marked a return to vigorous political cinema.

Last year, he was award a Goya for his body of work.

Bardem is survived by his wife; his sister, actress Pilar Bardem; four sons including director Miguel Bardem; and his nephew, Oscar-nominated actor Javier Bardem.

More Scene

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized by the [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. “I’ve seen more smiley symbolism lately, and I’ve [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. For those who haven’t caught on to the “Schitt’s Creek” [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

  • Don Cheadle and Andrew Rannells Black

    Don Cheadle, Andrew Rannells Talk Snorting 'Coke' on 'Black Monday'

    “Black Monday” show creators David Caspe and Jordan Cahen divulged an intriguing detail to come later in the first season of the new Showtime comedy at its world premiere, held at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Monday night in Los Angeles. “The fourth or fifth episode opens with a sexual harassment seminar, which very well [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content