Monday, December 3, 1945
Pepito Perez [Actor …. Angel’s chauffeur] (uncredited)
Actors: Dorothy Lamour, Arturo de Cordova, Patric Knowles, Ann Dvorak
Synopsis: Masquerade in Mexico is Mitchell Leisen’s remake of his own Midnight. Stranded in Mexico City without a dime, glamorous Angel O’Reilly (Dorothy Lamour) is rescued by wealthy Thomas Grant (Patric Knowles). But Grant’s motivations are anything but altrustic. In order to get his wife Helen’s (Ann Dvorak) mind off handsome bullfighter Manolo Segovia (Arturo de Cordova), Grant passes Angel off as a Contessa at a weekend party, reasoning that Segovia will switch his attentions to our heroine. Screenwriter Karl Tunberg has added a jewel-theft angle to the original Edwin Justis Mayer/Franz Spencer story, which improves things not at all. Masquerade in Mexico is admittedly a handsomer production than Midnight, but the remake lacks the sparkle of the original film’s stars Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore, Francis Lederer, Mary Astor et. al.
It is doubtful whether the Mexicans will find themselves flattered very much by Paramount’s glossy and expensive “Masquerade in Mexico.” And it is certainly an open question whether our own native audiences will be charmed by this lengthy, lopsided musical picture, which came to the Paramount yesterday. For it is one of those usual extravagances of good intentions and bad art, mixed up and squandered completely in the macerating mills of Hollywood.Whatever the original purpose of this apparent “good neighbor” picture was, it is safe to assume that that purpose has not been realized. No one could sanely have intended the dull conglomeration which appears. Not only is the story a trifling and witless affair, but the obvious attempts at Latin splendor are elaborately vulgar and unreal. And the likely displays of Mexican scenery are limited to a few process shots, set behind stereotyped action which could only take place on a studio set.Hopelessly unimaginative, the story has to do with an innocent night-club entertainer—Dorothy Lamour, no less—who finds herself stranded and suspected of jewel robbery in Mexico City. So, reluctantly this little lady accepts a commission from an American millionaire to divert the romantic attentions of a Mexican bullfighter away from his wife. To further the plot—or masquerade, see?—the lady pretends to be a Spanish countess, which leads to farcical complications of a sort that are as old as the Hollywood hills.Now and then, just to hold the franchise, Miss Lamour sings some Mexican songs, accompanied by the Guadalajara Trio decked out in fancy costumes. And a turbid and meaningless ballet is the spectacle piece of the show. The rest of the film is a dead lot of unfunny, fancified burlesque revolving around the fulsome ardor of the bullfighter for Miss Lamour. As Arturo de Cordova plays this fellow, he is a hot-panting, eye-rolling buffoon—hardly the type to do honor to the Mexican nature or American comedy. Patric Knowles is clean-cut and insipid as the American millionaire—the owner of a lavish “hacienda” which would stagger a conquistador. And Ann Dvorak is elegantly ratty as this gentleman’s extremely amoral wife. Only Mikhail Rasumny in the small role of a taxicab driver is truly droll. (Why doesn’t someone make a picture in which Mr. Rasumny is the whole cheese?)Mitchell Leisen directed diffusively from a script by Franz Spencer and Edwin Justus Mayer. Among them they managed to hide Mexico behind a hollow, unbeguiling masquerade.
MASQUERADE IN MEXICO; screen play by Edwin Justus Mayer and Franz Spencer; directed by Mitchell Leisen; produced by Karl Tunberg for Paramount Pictures. At the Paramount.Angel O’Reilly . . . . . Dorothy LamourManolo Sagovia . . . . . Arturo de CordovaThomas Grant . . . . . Patric KnowlesHelen Grant . . . . . Ann DvorakBoris Cassall . . . . . George RigaudIrene Denny . . . . . Natalie SchaferPablo . . . . . Mikhail RasumnyRico Fenway . . . . . Billy DanielsThe Guadalajara Trio
A version of this article appears in print on Nov. 29, 1945 of the National edition with the headline: THE SCREEN; Masquerade in Mexico,’ With Dorothy Lamour in Leading Role, a Good-Neighbor Film Presented at the Paramount.