Friday 6 April 2007

La Cucaracha (1934) Lloyd Corrigan

Here's a little curiosity. It was directed in 1934 by the man who I know from a decade later as Boston Blackie's millionaire friend Arthur, based on a story he co-wrote with Carly Wharton. It was made in glorious two strip Technicolor and has an entirely Hispanic cast and theme. It starts out clumsily and without much promise, beyond the colour, but gets rapidly better until I couldn't keep my eyes off the screen. It's certainly not great but it's a fascinating little film.

We're outside El Oso, a cafe cantate somewhere in Mexico, where theater impresario Señor Martinez has travelled to see the great dancer Pancho. If he's truly as great as he's been drummed up to be then Martinez will hire him and whisk him away to work in his theatre. Overhearing these plans is Chatita, Pancho's young lady, who fierily decides to find a way to spoil them and torments Señor Martinez wonderfully. Of course nothing turns out the way anyone expects.

While there didn't look like there would be any redeeming features at the outset, there are more than a few. Steffi Duna is Chatita and she warms into the part wonderfully. She's as fiery as she ought to be, as is both her singing and dancing, and I never realised that the song La Cucaracha that I first heard in junior school really has a refrain that goes on about marijuana. Pancho has a fiery temperament too and Don Alvarado makes the most out of what is really a small part. That of Martinez is much bigger and Paul Porcasi has great fun with it. He's really Italian but seemed to play characters of almost any nationality.

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