What’s to be done with a spoiled heiress who is determined to be married, but successively jilts three prospective husbands at the altar? That’s the problem that vexes the troubled parents of Monica Vieytes (Malisa Zini, above) in the Argentinian screwball comedy, Arroz con Leche (1950), named after Monica’s favorite dish, rice pudding. The answer is, obviously, send her away for a while so they can make an effort to repair her reputation in her home town of Buenos Aires. At least she will be accompanied into exile by her faithful butler, Silvestre, who is an expert maker of rice pudding (but otherwise culinarily clueless).
The movie is based on a stage play by Carlos Noti, Noche in Viena (Night in Vienna), about which almost nothing is known – including whether or not it features a spanking scene. You’ll have guessed already that the film is headed in that direction, but the matter remains in doubt as far as the original play is concerned because the screen adaptation evidently made a number of alterations to the story, not least of which is the setting. Jilt-happy Monica’s not sent away to Vienna but to Bariloche, a skiing resort in the Andes, and the story gets going when, en route, some friends tell her that a single woman has no chance of being seduced there: the local lounge lizards only go for targets who are safely married.
So when she arrives, Señorita Vieytes checks into the hotel under an alias: Señora Byron, wife of the well-known but, until now, thought to be unmarried, local lawyer Gustavo Augusto Byron, played by Angel Magaña. She then meets a young man she fancies, Raul (Esteban Serrador), and persuades him that, despite his upstanding public image, Dr Byron is really a drunken wife-beater. This creates trouble for Byron, who is busy trying to woo a pretty nightclub singer. And the complications really mount up when Raul asks him to give his ‘wife’ a divorce.
Let’s cut a long story short. The crisis comes with a confrontation between Byron and Monica, in the course of which he tells her he’d never marry someone like her, someone who’s no woman but a naughty little girl. Monica slaps his face, and the immediate consequence is:
In the original shooting script, this was a straightforward sequence played out across three shots: he puts her across his knee and spanks her, then (shot 2) Silvestre the butler comes in and (shot 3) he lets her go. But when the scene was filmed (on July 17, 1950), they decided to make it into something more substantial. The first addition was a moment just after she has hit him, when she realizes what she has done, backs away and is chased around the sofa. He puts her across his knee and starts to spank her, and then the shot changes as he continues to spank.
She takes the only possible form of retaliation, and sinks her teeth into his thigh.
He tips her off his lap, and the shot changes again. She makes a grab for his ankles and they end up struggling on the floor, with him continuing to smack her bottom from a much less convenient angle while, in the background, enter Silvestre. Cut to favor Silvestre as he realizes what’s going on, then intercut with the pair on the carpet. Finally, Byron gets Monica back across his knee and spanks her some more:
From a fairly simple scripted scene, the spanking grew into a little one-minute epic. Here it is:
And in the end, Monica does succeed in getting her man – only it’s Byron, not Raul. And to ensure that she doesn’t run away at the altar again, he takes the precaution of bringing a pair of handcuffs…