I've yet to see a film by Spanish director Luis Buñuel I've not enjoyed - this sexual melodrama from his Mexican period of the 1950s is simultaneously simple and subtly subversive, and is something of a guilty pleasure.
Typically the black and white cinematography is wonderful with great use of deep shadows to produce a sultry atmosphere, and the performances are also strong. Rosita Quintana is perfect as the devilish, sexy Susana: the recently escaped and possibly dangerously mad girl who tricks her way into the household of a respectable landowner and family man (Fernando Soler) and promptly begins to seduce him and every man in the vicinity for her own amusement and exhibition of power. She's marvellously manipulative, pulling down her blouse to reveal her shapely shoulders whenever she interacts with the men of the house, affecting innocence and compliance around the women.
It's a film with a high sexual charge, we are manipulated as much as the characters are by the way Buñuel films Quintana. A great scene uses different camera angles to show the three men of the household, unaware of each other's mutual obsession, all watching Susana silhouetted (no doubt knowingly) behind her window at night, and of course we are equally complicit in this voyeurism.
The master stroke is how Buñuel subverts the genre, he skilfully tells the story - perfecting the popular style of Mexican melodrama while mocking it at the same time - most notably in the final scene
where Susana (revealed, captured and removed back to the reformatory) is completely forgotten. All wrongs are righted; the sun comes out, sick animals are suddenly well, sacked employees are reinstated and the family is united and entirely content once more - or so it seems. To see this as anything other than highly ironic would be a mistake. The family have as much chance forgetting Susana as we do after the film is over.