Born in East L.A.

Back when I was still contributing to Metroblogging LA I had an idea for a series on films based in LA where Latinos were the main characters. I made a long list and drafted posts. I even reached out to El Chavo! so we could tag team on posts for Metroblogging LA. He was down, but I never followed up. A year after my initial idea, I’m finally getting around to the movies. Enjoy. Oh yeah, and feel free to add another movie to the list.

Born in East L.A. (1987)

Director: Cheech Marin

Starring: Cheech Marin, Paul Rodriguez, Kamala Lopez-Dawson, Daniel Stern and Lupe Ontiveros

Neighborhood: East LA

Based on a true story: No. However, deportations of undocumented workers are a common occurrence in/around Los Angeles. During the Great Depression and then again in the 1950s, the US launched mass deportations of immigrant and US-born Chicanos. Present day, we have the story of mentally disabled Pedro Guzman who was wrongfully deported by ICE and was lost in Tijuana for three months (LA Weekly story on Guzman). So, it isn’t too far of a stretch to imagine that Rudy, a US-born Chicano, who barely knew Spanish could be mistaken as an undocumented worker and deported.

Edward James Olmos connection: Not directly. But there are several actors including Paul Rodriguez and Lupe Ontiveros who have worked on projects with Eddie Olmos such as American Family and Mi Familia.

Main themes: immigration, undocumented immigration, assimilation and reconnecting with one’s roots.

Memorable quotes:

Immigration officer: Where were you born?
Rudy: What?
Immigration officer: Read my lips, El Paco. Where were you born?
Rudy: I was born in East L.A., man.
Immigration officer: Sure, sure. If you were born in East L.A., then who’s the president of the United States?
Rudy: I-I don’t know, that guy, that guy who was on T.V., the guy in the cowboy hat… he used to be on “Death Valley Days”… uh, John Wayne!
Immigration officer: Get him out of here.

Rudy: The president of the United States is Ronald “dickhead” Reagan!

Feel free to add more quotes. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie!