Zoot Suit Film Critique

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:History

Document 1

The movie’s title is The Zoot Suit Riots, Zoot suit idea being borrowed from Black Americans by the Mexicans. I feel these Mexicans were simply trying to express their art, techniques and identity by wearing such clothes. The film director is Joseph Toraves and narrator is Hector Elizardo, who clearly portrays what really unfolded by involving witnesses, defendants and key personnel in the court to help tell the story. Key actors include Hank Leyvas the ringleader, Jose Diaz who was killed, the 20 Mexican American boys, Lupe Leyvas who was Hank Leyvas sister, the sailors, Lagoon Defense Committee, Rudy Leyvas who was the brother of Hank, Lorena Encinas and her two female friends, Lorena Encinas who was the actual murderer and some witnesses.

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The plot of the film The film starts by indicating the night that chaos erupted; “A cold night on August 1942” that Hank Leyvas and gang rode a car towards a night party to revenge him and his girlfriend being beaten up by some Mexican-American boys. These outrageous clothes and cocky attitudes shocked their parents who feared their sons and daughters would become Pachucos which meant ill-mannered kids that defied the norms of segregation. This led to sailors insulting Mexican-American teenagers, who in turn taunted the sailors. Some LAPD officers joined the war service and a new phenomenon arose by the name ‘Zoot suits’. Consequently, the pressure at the station led to the 38th Street gang being mistreated by the police, trying to get a forceful confession out of them.

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The press then forged ill stories about the teens. Zoot suits were also banned. Investigation of the riot cause began. Two years after the 38th Street kids' arrest, the appeal was successful. Years later after their release, it was determined that Louis Encina was the killer, hence he committed suicide. The mayor said that the riot was caused by juvenile delinquents whereas Citizens Committee determined race to be the central cause of the riots. The effects: Some editing was flashy to the eyes since there was sudden bright light between particular scenes. Emotional Lope Leyvas: She was so emotional as she explained her version of the story; consequently making me emotional as well. Summary and conclusion I believe that the segregation in Los Angeles mostly hurt the Mexican-Americans socially and economically and that led to the boys being motivated to have LA's share of their own.

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