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From a poor working class background, Juan de Dios is a cantina performer in Seville, singing and dancing with his partner Lola. They have a contentious professional and personal relationship, her jealous self who cannot tolerate his constant flirting. He really aspires to be a serious opera singer, he under the tutelage of Estaban. Once the greatest impresario in Spain himself, Estaban lost everything because of the same reckless behavior that Juan now exhibits, that behavior which Estaban is trying to quell in Juan. Estaban's plan is to get one of his old contacts in Madrid, an impresario, to manage Juan's career to get him serious singing gigs, leading to that fame and fortune Esteban once used to have. It's love at first sight when Juan meets Maria Consuelo Vargas. What he initially doesn't know is that their meeting was by no accident, as she, a postulant at St. Agustín convent who just escaped from that life, had been mesmerized by him and his singing every time she saw him as ... Written by
None of the Technicolor sequences, as described in the New York Times review in October 1930, including at least one aria (Vesti la Giubba) by Novarro, seem to have survived; they were missing from the 100 minute print telecast by TBS in 1988-1989 and by Turner Classic Movies in 1997 and 2014. See more »
In a Spanish convent, girlish-acting Dorothy Jordan (as Maria Consuelo Vargas) is thinking about taking her final vows when she hears handsome Ramon Novarro (as Juan de Dios) singing in a nearby cantina. She sneaks away from the nunnery to watch Mr. Novarro sing. The seemingly aroused Ms. Jordan looks like she may never become a nun. Novarro playfully turns down some after-hours bedtime with attractive dancing partner Renee Adoree (as Lola) proving "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets" is not correct, this time. Next, Novarro sups with operatic mentor Ernest Torrence (as Esteban), steals a few things at the market, and then meets Jordan. The two become mutually attracted...
Hoping to advance his career, Novarro moves to Madrid with Mr. Torrence going along as singing coach. They take love-struck Jordan along to serve as cook. Back at the convent, Ms. Adoree jealously informs Jordan's brother Russell Hopton (as Enrique Vargas) about her association with Novarro. The nuns say Jordan never took her final vows, but Mr. Hopton expects his sister to remain holy he is understandably upset about her running away with a young man. We're supposed to think there is some danger in this, but there is none...
"Call of the Flesh" is a silly piece of fluff. Jordan was capable of much more here, she's stuck impersonating a giggling novice. Adoree does better with her role. Sadly, this was the last film for Adoree, who often appeared supporting bigger stars like Novarro, John Gilbert and Lon Chaney. She became ill during production and succumbed to tuberculosis in 1933. His female co-stars have a fine rapport with Novarro. Greater as a villain, Torrence is out of sorts as Novarro's loving mentor. The cameras adore Novarro. There are clearly times when director Charles Brabin is unable to reign him in, but Novarro is charming in spite of it all. Most important to his new generation of fans, he looks terrific.
***** Call of the Flesh (8/16/30) Charles Brabin ~ Ramon Novarro, Dorothy Jordan, Ernest Torrence, Renee Adoree
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