Weekend In Havana – Directed by Walter Lang. Musical. A cruise ship to Cuba crashes and the lawyer assigned to prevent a suit comes up against a determined lady. 81 minutes Color 1941.
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Brilliant! Partly because of the Technicolor process that made color something it never was in real life. And, of course, one didn’t go to the Fox musicals for real life any more than one went to a box of Toffinetti chocolates for a hearty meal. One went for wit, ebullience, and a blond with the common touch. Alice Faye was an Irish lass from Hell’s Kitchen, good hearted, easy, accessible. She had an allure she seemed almost unaware of, but the camera was not unaware of it. Her big, subtle, sleepy, China-blue eyes and her sensual and volatile mouth drew one in, as did her sultry alto when singing, at which point the camera drew close to catch it all. Gosh, what a lady! And she’s a darn good screen actor, too, as is the lushly handsome John Payne opposite her. The amazing costumes of the Fox musicals are in full array on her, as they also are on that island of tropical repose, Carmen Miranda. This movie is not like one of the deep naturalistic musicals of Gene Kelly at MGM, which moved musicals forward. It was rather the confection of a brilliant production crew and a formula for entertainment that was crisp, exotic, and fantastical in its detail and array. I have a high opinion of Fox musicals. I think of Fox musicals as piñatas. They don’t change much from one to the other. They always have the same predictable function and form, but they bring delight and they are full of astonishing gifts! Also with Billy Gilbert, Leonard Kinsky, Sheldon Leonid, Cesar Romero.