Mario Montenegro and Delia Razon
Culture

One of the earliest Filipino films in color, this restored costume epic is ready for audiences

 This LVN picture from 1954 stars Mario Montenegro at the peak of his powers  
ANCX Staff | Feb 05 2021

‘Prinsipe Teñoso’, a 1954 action and adventure costume drama, was recently restored by ABS-CBN’s Sagip Pelikula efforts. The film was scanned in 4K resolution using its existing 35mm print from legendary studio LVN Pictures, Inc., the film’s producer.

“Prinsipe Teñoso” is not only one of the earliest local movies in color but most likely the earliest that still survives.

The movie, directed by Dr. Gregorio Fernandez from the original script of the esteemed Manuel Conde (actor and director of “Genghis Khan” and “Si Juan Tamad”), stars Mario Montenegro at the peak of his powers, along with an exquisite Delia Razon.  

Montenegro essays the title role—a prince kicked out of the kingdom by his father king after the former sets an imprisoned giant free. As a form of gratitude, the giant gifts him with a hanky possessed with the power of granting wishes. The rest of the picture follows Teñoso’s journey back to the palace and on the good side of his father. 

Montenegro with Oscar Obligacion (right)

ABS-CBN Film Restoration Head Leo Katigbak says “Prinsipe Teñoso” is not only one of the earliest local movies in color but most likely the earliest that still survives. “They used ANSCO Color film stock which was what MGM was also using in the 1950s,” he says. “ANSCO is by Agfa and was wildly used for large productions in the 50s. Like ‘Ibong Adarna’ which was comparable to the Hollywood epics at the time, ‘Teñoso’ also used similar techniques and available advances then in technology.” Katigbak says this speaks loads about LVN as an innovator in the field of local moviemaking. 

The film was scanned in 4K resolution using its existing 35mm print from legendary studio LVN Pictures, Inc., the film’s producer.

Asked why his group chose the costume epic to restore among other LVN pictures, Katigbak told ANCX that, in truth, only a handful of films from the studio can now actually be scanned. “We were able to do a list of maybe 12 to 15 [titles] which we are hoping to scan and enhance though we no longer have the resources to fully restore them,” he says. “But we are still able to clean them up, remove some of the defects.” 

Delia Razon

The bit of good news is that while there are only a few titles that survive, these titles, in the Restoration chief’s opinion, are memorable projects. “While only a handful will be left intact and in good viewing condition for the future,” Katigbak says, “they are enough to keep the legacy of LVN alive and remembered.” 

[“Prinsipe Teñoso” is screening Friday night for free at the ABS-CBN Film Restoration Facebook page.]