All posts, Culture and buildings, Food and drink

My sherry amour – Pathé film (1964)

Filmed in 1964 – when seven out of ten bottles of sherry were exported to Britain – this short film contains all colours of the rainbow in the women’s fiesta dresses – with ink-black bulls for contrast.

We love these old Pathé films and wonder if anything has much changed in Spain. The loud and mad town fiestas continue and – praise Bacchus! – jerez is still made in vast quantities.

Following decades of archaeological digs experts know vines were first brought to the Jerez region by the Phoenicians in 1100 BC – they called the area Xera. But this post isn’t about sherry – more on that another day when we’ve actually visited the area properly.

The featured bodega – Williams and Humbert – is still in operation (now owned by the Medina family) but we don’t know if the white storks, originally ‘imported’ to the English owner’s home, are still around. Depending on where you live, you may spot a bottle of ‘Dry Sack’ (some of us could do with that on a sweltering day) in your local wine shop, made by the company.

We learnt a lot in seven minutes including how the grape crushers wore cow-hide boots with iron nails in their soles to help extract the juice (talking of rainbows, the men look much like Dorothy’s welcoming committee in Munchkinland).

There’s a flamboyant street parade with people dressed as smiling pigs and sherry bottles – and a giant prawn on top of a tractor. Some of the more dubious elements of the parade thankfully no longer appear nowadays (as far as we know, but this is Spain after all). Of course, there has to be a bullfight and at this one Orson Welles is featured with a huge cigar in his gob. He was probably there while shooting his film Chimes at Midnight – Campanadas a medianoche.

Another highlight is when the narrator stands next to a Barbra Streisand lookalike with a handheld battery-operated ‘fan’ – arguably the most useless invention ever.

It’s a beautiful film and we wonder whether any of the flamenco dancers are still doing their thing today, now into their 70s and 80s.

Notice the bagpipes (at 02:50) – well, what else did you expect?

Related posts:

1967: anatomy of a film – Jerez, Andalucia (part 1)

Gerald Brenan: a return to Yegen (1974 documentary)

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