The Mambo Kings

OCOpen Caption screening
Additional program content
SFSensory Friendly. Details HERE

There are no showtimes currently scheduled for this film.


The Mambo Kings

Introduction by JBFC Senior Film Programmer Monica Castillo

Two Options:

6:00PM – class + screening ($25 Members / $30 Nonmembers)


7:00PM – screening without class ($11 Members / $16 Nonmembers)

Two brothers (Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas, in his first English language role) leave their tumultuous home in Havana, Cuba, for a chance at the spotlight of New York City’s legendary nightclubs. Jealousy and fame – and its temptations – threaten to derail both of their dreams. Based on Oscar Hijuelos’ Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, the movie adaptation is a recreation of the 1950s heyday of the famous Palladium, when Tito Puente was king (and who makes an appearance as himself opposite the Queen of Salsa Celia Cruz) and a Cuban musician named Desi Arnaz was teaching America the conga on one of the most popular television shows in history, I Love Lucy. Arne Glimcher’s feature debut is a celebration of the musical heritage immigrants brought to the city and the symphony they struggled to create for themselves in a new country.

Presented on 35mm

“In some ways this story is as old as the movies, but The Mambo Kings is so filled with energy, passion and heedless vitality that it seems new, anyway.”
Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
The Mambo Kings is so pumped up with life it threatens to burst. It's beautifully filmed and flashily edited. It pulsates with rhythmic ecstasy. It throbs, it sweats, it pounds, it undulates.”
Desson Thomson, Washington Post


Tito Puente Centennial Celebration: Mambo, New York, and the King of the Timbales
Tito Puente Centennial Celebration: Mambo, New York, and the King of the Timbales
Monday, Jul. 31 2023, 6:00
This event is over. View all of our upcoming events.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Tito Puente’s birth in Harlem, join Senior Film Programmer Monica Castillo for a behind-the-history look at mambo, its role in New York City, and what happened next in Latin music before the screening of The Mambo Kings. Learn about the multiple forces that brought Puerto Rican and Cuban musicians together in New York, the rise of popular hotspots like the Palladium, hear more about the book The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love that inspired the movie and how a rising Spanish star named Antonio Banderas made The Mambo Kings his English language debut.

  • Monica Castillo is the Senior Film Programmer at the Jacob Burns Film Center and a critic. Her work has been published in NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times,, and many others.
The workshop will take place in Theater 4. Attendees will also have access to the screening in the David Swope Theater at 7:00 pm.

This film is part of the Sounds of Summer 2023 series.

Coming Soon


Opens 4/26

Evil Does Not Exist

Opens 5/17

I Saw the TV Glow

Opens 5/17

The Jacob Burns Film Center is proud to receive generous support from:

Email Sign Up

Get updates on screenings at the JBFC Theater, upcoming events, and more!