"The Spanish Dancer" has the script of an utterly commonplace, even hackneyed, melodramatic movie. In the hands of director Herbert Brenon, it turns into a work of visual fantasy that is impossible to resist.
Mind you, it needs to be seen in the right conditions. Looking at it by yourself on a television screen, it doesn't look like much. Happily, I was able to see it under the right conditions: at the Museum of Modern Art with Donald Sosin at the piano and his wife at the tambourine, during the week of a storm that had shut down half the city and left people shivering in the cold and dark, needing to be taken out of themselves.
The casting is well nigh perfect. The cinematography by James Wong Howe is perfect, not just the story telling aspect of it, but the set-piece at the center of the movie shot during Carnival in Barcelona. The shots are framed by medieval architecture and filled with light, thanks to the confetti that fills the screen.
My movie reviews usually talk about the story and there is one, but that's not the reason to see this movie. This is one of those movies that you must seem even though you may find it tough going until its beauty kicks in. I only hope that when you see it, it's in a comfortable theater with a great score. I also hope you don't have a disaster going on outside the theater.
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