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 ... See full summary »
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 »
Novarro confirms his talent in a great performance.
Ramon Novarro is really great in this fairly ordinary film about a young singer and his love for an innocent girl. The plot calls on him to sing a lot - and he does so quite brilliantly. He is also called upon to go through some pretty heavy emotional stuff and he is nothing short of astonishing in these scenes. Also he demonstrates his usual charm, wit and joy of life - and proves yet again that he deserved better material than MGM offered him.
It's easy to see why this sweet film was so popular in its day, and why it was re-made twice (in Spanish and French) in 1931, with Ramon starring in and directing both versions. It's all impossibly romantic and quite charming.
Ramon's regular leading lady, Dorothy Jordan, is pretty good here, Ernest Torrence hams a bit as Ramon's dad, and Renee Adoree is wonderful in her last screen performance (she died very young of TB) - just as in "The Pagan" her love for Ramon is unrequited and she is ultimately self-sacrificing. Russell Hopton is, unfortunately, wooden as Jordan's brother and, as a consequence, his crucial climactic scene with Ramon does not work as well as it should have.
Charles Brabin's direction and the screenplay are uninspired, but the film is worth seeing for Ramon Novarro's extraordinary performance.
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