Mahmoud Yassin … the only star of the seventies


Cairo | After suffering for years from Alzheimer’s disease and a general deterioration in his health during the past months, one of the most famous and most prolific actors in the history of Egyptian cinema passed away yesterday, the star Mahmoud Yassin (1941-2020). Mahmoud Yassin was an exceptional phenomenon in the history of Egyptian cinema during the 1970s, of which he was the undisputed first star. When one invokes the cinema of the seventies in Egypt, but when he thinks about the seventies in general, Mahmoud Yassin’s face must appear between the images of this period, with its distinctive brown color, the hairstyle of his long head, his wide sideburns, and those narrow “Charleston” pants at the waist. Wide to the foot, covering the shoe and almost touching the floor, and those tight shirts with giant collars, always open to show off his abundant chest hair.I do not think that there is an actor who expressed an entire era as Mahmoud Yassin expressed the years of the seventies, as if he was created for it, or as if he was the human embodiment of this era that was full of contradictions and “extravaganza” (strange and exaggeration) in everything!

From the heart of the storm, the Mahmoud Yassin phenomenon was born in the second half of the sixties of the last century, and within a few years it turned into the first window star, the first girl idol, the first virility model, and the first national hero model, in dozens and dozens of films that plunged the seventies.
From the heart of the decision to nationalize the Suez Canal announced by Abdel Nasser in 1956 and the tripartite aggression that followed it, and the symbolic victory that ended the aggression, and from the heart of the resounding defeat that came ten years later in 1967 and forced the inhabitants of his city to leave it and migrate to Cairo and some other cities … These difficult years during which he lived his childhood and his youth, contributed to the formation of his personality and his memory as an actor.
Yassin was born in 1941 in Port Said, the largest and most beautiful city in the Suez Canal at the time. He was influenced by a cosmopolitan environment in which races, nationalities and languages ​​mixed, and a family that loved art, culture and representation. He loved reading and acting from a young age, and participated in a number of amateur works, before he went to Cairo to study law at Ain Shams University at the end of the fifties. His passion for acting, whose gestures appeared in Port Said, led him to the world of theater, and he took acting tests at the national theater, where he drew attention with his melodious voice, his impressive strength and his Egyptian features. Soon, he was entrusted with roles and starring in prominent theatrical productions by the great writers and directors of this period. He left the legal profession to devote himself to theater, and from the theater he was picked up by a number of film directors, including Salah Abu Seif, who was entrusted with a role in his film “Case 68”, which was shown the year immediately following the 1967 defeat, and carried a scathing criticism of the system responsible for the collapse of Egypt’s structure. From “Case 68”, producer Ramses Naguib picked him up to be entrusted with the first starring in front of Najma Shadia in the movie “We Do Not Sow Thorns” (1970), followed by the title of “The Thin Thread” (1971) in front of “The Lady of the Screen” Faten Hamama, who returned him to the cinema. After a hiatus of seven years, for well-known reasons, indicative of the political change that followed the end of the Nasser regime and the assumption of Sadat, and the massive transformations, coups and contradictions that followed.
Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Mahmoud Yassin’s talent meets the films of “resistance” and political criticism that followed the defeat, nor that Yassin starred in two out of three films made by the youth of the “New Cinema Group”, which was founded in 1968, namely “A Song on the Path” by Ali Abdel Khaleq, and “Shadows on the Other Side” of the Palestinian Ghaleb Shaath. It is certainly not a coincidence that Mahmoud Yassin was used as an actor expressing a new cinema, a new generation, and a new form of the movie star, during a period when there was much talk about the “new”.
Until the end of the seventies, Mahmoud Yassin had starred in nearly eighty films. Some years, he showed twelve, ten, or eight movies at once. In the three films that were made about the October War, for example, in 1974, Yassin starred in all of them: “The bullet is still in my pocket,” “Badoor,” and “The Great Loyalty”!

With Shadia in the movie “We Do Not Sow Thorns”

Despite the criticisms that can be directed at most of the 1970s films and to Mahmoud Yassin’s theatrical performance in most of them, as an actor he was a very “wide cloth”, playing the romantic lover roles in the melodramas of Barakat, Hassan Al-Imam and Helmy Rafla, such as “my sister” and “my love” “The Visitor”, “The Tears Dried Out,” “The Love Is Over.” He also plays bold sexual adoration roles in works such as “The Love That Was,” “A Forest of Legs,” “The Bottom of the City,” “A Notorious Woman” and “When the Flesh Falls”!
Despite the many roles and light films in which he participated, Mahmoud Yassin was not classified as a “light” actor, like Hussein Fahmy. Rather, he was always entrusted with playing serious and complex roles in works such as “Al-Kadab” by Salah Abu Saif and “On Whom We Shoot” by Kamal Al-Sheikh And “Mouths and Rabbits” by Henry Barakat, “Sonya and the Madman” by Husam al-Din Mustafa, quoted from Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” and “The Conqueror of Darkness” by Atef Salem, who embodied the character of Taha Hussein.
Despite the seriousness of his features and his manner of performance, he also played some prominent comedic roles, such as his role in “Attention, gentlemen,” by Muhammad Abdel Aziz, in which he played the role of a garbage collector who turns into a millionaire in the era of openness, with the exception of dozens of “action” works that he did In it, by playing the roles of the muscular commando hero, such as “Harafish”, “Al-Tout and Al-Naboot” and “Al-Balah Agency.”

He left almost no role he played, from the quiet intelligence officer to the chariot driver

Mahmoud Yassin did not leave a role he almost did not play, from the quiet intelligence officer in “climbing to the abyss”, to the driver of a donkey-pulled cart in “Al-Arabji”, to the pilot in the “missing plane”, and dozens of others.
In total, Mahmoud Yassin has participated in nearly 140 films, apart from television series, plays, and radio works, and he is one of the most prolific actors. Although his sweeping stardom waned in the seventies, he continued to work with all generations, leaving from time to time distinctive imprints, such as his role in the movie “Al-Jazeera” (directed by Sherif Arafa), and his last work in the cinema was a comedic role in the movie “Gedo Habibi” in 2012 .
In the “Top Hundred Films” poll in the history of Egyptian cinema conducted by the “Cairo Film Festival” in 1996, the list included five works starring Mahmoud Yassin: “A Song on the Corridor”, “Night and Bars”, and “On whom we shoot”, And “Climbing to the Abyss” and “Pay Attention, Gentlemen” (who ranked 101!), A number that may seem insignificant compared to the number of films in which Mahmoud Yassin participated … But this does not diminish the impact that Mahmoud Yassin has had on Egyptian cinema. . A phenomenon that goes far beyond these lists and ratings.

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