Crime Melodrama, With Music, Achieves Its Purpose.
rsoonsa | Lake Isabella, California | 05/08/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Alpha Video, DVD distributors of generally unloved and long out of print American films, principally from the 1930s and 1940s, is rendering valuable service to those cineastes who value these works, since many of these productions will probably not be otherwise accessible and are thereby on their way to being collectible items. Many of these are from prints proffered by private collectors, with Alpha selecting the best available copies, as there is no attempt toward re-mastering, and no DVD extras are provided other than scene selection, and some trailers, although the company's packaging is attractive and its liner notes are, for the most part, useful. This film's principal attraction is Movita Castaneda, talented Mexican coloratura who favourably impressed United States audiences with her efforts in such as FLYING DOWN TO RIO and MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, later gaining additional renown when she, while pregnant, married (a much younger than her) Marlon Brando. She is quite effective, both musically and dramatically, in this movie, noteworthy because few retakes are to be had under the aegis of lowly-budgeted Monogram Pictures, and while there are several scenes marked by brief skips, the largest portion of the print is free of these flaws and a viewer is rewarded by a briskly paced and interesting tale. Movita is cast as Marquita Romero ("La Marquita"), an aspiring singer in Rio de Janeiro who, directly preceding a stage performance, receives a cablegram providing her with an unpleasant surprise: her brother Carlos is under arrest for murder in New York City. Marquita immediately flies there, leaving behind her swain Steve (Warren Hull), and meeting with Annette (Adele Pearce), the young woman who had sent her the message and who is the new wife of Carlos. Annette explains to Marquita that her husband is victim of a frame-up. Naturally, Steve has followed Marquita to New York where he joins the women, the trio then engaging the services of a prominent criminal attorney, and it soon develops that a night club owner is the probable murderer, not Carlos, in an insurance related case where he may have destroyed his own business through an act of arson. Marquita applies for a job to sing at the club as means of discovering the truth in this matter, and is hired by the suspect, all very melodramatic to be sure, yet the plot just about comes off thanks to some able acting by a competent cast of supporting players. The film is burdened with a somewhat cluttered narrative line but Pearce, in addition to Dennis Moore and Kay Linaker as associates of the tale's villain, bring clarity to those sequences within which they appear. Movita sings three numbers and veteran director Lambert Hillyer, thoroughly accustomed to working with thin budgets, abruptly ends the piece when time and funding run dry. It must be noted that the language of Brazil and Brazilians is Portuguese rather than Spanish as is used here but, nonetheless, there is a good deal of enjoyment to be found in this admittedly routine production."