The Mauricio Garcés film that prophesied video calls 50 years ago

Sequence of the movie “Bachelor Department” where a video call is presented years before they became popular Video: YouTube / Mauricio Avalos

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and social isolation to prevent contagion, video calls became an essential pillar of many jobs, meetings with friends and an extension of school classrooms to keep the school year afloat, although its use was already popular for entertainment and business, it definitely increased during 2020.

Before the nineties, the population could hardly access to make video calls, since conferences of this type were only held as a technological innovation for certain companies, in addition to the fact that the minute was charged at USD 16.

Despite this, in bachelor department this form of communication was shown to the public as a common alternative, this is a movie starring Mauricio Garces that premiered in 1971, year in which video calls were an experimental technology and they were not part of people’s daily routine.

Video calls were shown to be a common way to stay in touch (Photo: Single Department [1971] America Films, Diana Films)

It should be noted that the film directed by René Carmona Jr. began its production in 1969, so the technology to speak and see the interlocutor at the same time would have been about 50 years ahead of his time, the style of this actor endowed Bachelor Department of charisma and typical Mexican comedy, in addition to the fact that his mischievous occurrences were increased by a particular sequence.

In one of the most iconic scenes of the film, the womanizing doctor Mauricio Machinandiarena answers the call of one of his “patients” during the night, instead of being just a telephone encounter, could see on a small screen the maiden wearing his pajamas facilitating the flirtation between the “mourner” and her doctor at a distance.

The device that allowed the characters to make the video call was very similar to a landline phone, that is, with a speaker and microphone connected to a cable and a dial to dial numbers. The difference is that at the top, a rectangular structure supported a small color screen to visualize the interlocutor.

This was the video call in the Bachelor Department (Photo: Bachelor Department [1971] America Films, Diana Films)
This was the video call in the Bachelor Department (Photo: Bachelor Department [1971] America Films, Diana Films)
The character to whom Mauricio Garcés gave life was able to see his "patient" in Bachelor's Department (Photo: Bachelor's Department [1971] America Films, Diana Films)
The character whom Mauricio Garcés brought to life was able to see his “patient” in the Single Department (Photo: Single Department [1971] America Films, Diana Films)

This device was marketed by the company AT&T in the seventies and it was called Picturephone II, which included 30 minutes of video calls and had a cost of USD 160 a month to be able to use it, this high price meant that only a few people could have access to it, in addition to by 1973 there were only 453 products worldwide, that is why the film starring Mauricio Garcés in 1969 would have anticipated the form that said telephone with a screen would have.

A couple of minutes before said sequence, another conversation takes place in the form of a video call. This movie was produced by America Films, Diana Films, However, since it was not available on any official platform, some Internet users uploaded it completely to YouTube.

In said space, people who are fans of Mauricio Garcés relived the fun moments of the actor and they did not miss the opportunity to point out the “leap in time” that he gave with video calls.

Mauricio Garcés also played the role of doctor in another film titled "death in love" (Photo: Youtube screenshot/Stories of Mexican Cinema)
Mauricio Garcés also played the role of the doctor in another film entitled “La Muerte Enamorada” (Photo: Youtube screenshot / Stories of Mexican Cinema)

In a couple of comments you can read “A video call can be seen that actually did not exist yet at that time, well, they were ahead of their time. Very good and funny scene Wow!” Y “Did you already have video calls in those years?” So the innovation really surprised the public at the time and even years later.

In addition to Garcés, who was 42 years old at the time, other actors from the cast of Bachelor Department were Teresa Velázquez as La Pantera, Yolanda Varela as Laura, Julián de Meriche, Amador de Bendayán, Yolanda Ciani, Leticia Robles, Carlos Nieto, Eduardo Alcaraz, Carlos Riquelme and Susana Cabrera.

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The Mauricio Garcés film that prophesied video calls 50 years ago