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Caliente was a stylish resort destination for the film community in the 1930's, and this film attempted to capitalize on that exotic fact for movie audiences. Very little of the film takes advantage of its sultry locale, however. The film is mainly concerned with Rita, a beautiful Mexican dancer, who is infuriated after Larry, a theater critic, savagely pans her dancing after failing to catch her act! She sets out to show him, and of course they fall in love. There is a good supporting cast, especially Edward Everett Horton as his usual nervous fussbudget. The two musical numbers were staged by Busby Berkeley. "The Lady in Red" is sung by a chorus of studio cuties and by the wonderful Wini Shaw (and a novelty chorus or two is sung by the delightful Judy Canova, doing her "country hayseed" character). The "Muchacha" number is one of Berkeley's typical sprawling numbers and makes good use of Dolores Del Rio's beauty and horses riding up a staircase! Pay attention to Del Rio in the scene at the pool. She wears what's believed to be the screen's first two-piece bathing suit. Just one look at her stunning beauty will make you long for the days when Hollywood was known for goddesses like Del Rio, Dietrich, Lamarr, Garbo, etc.
Pat O'Brien, part time critic and full time boozer, gets pulled away to
Caliente in Mexico by his friend Edward Everett Horton to avoid getting
married to gold digger Glenda Farrell. But it's out of the frying pan
into the fire.
Dolores Del Rio has a Spanish dancing act that O'Brien savagely panned one night after attending her performance stewed to the gills. That hurt her career and when she sees him on her home turf, she's going to get a little vengeance. She and father/manager Leo Carrillo.
Of course if you can't figure out where this plot is going by now, you haven't seen too many old films. But the plot is just an excuse to string together four Busby Berkeley numbers, including the big hit that came out of the film, The Lady in Red.
Dolores Del Rio, what a beauty she was. Hard to believe anyone could have panned her dancing. She sang beautifully as well. When she got her first big break in American cinema in the silent version of Ramona, she recorded the title song and even though the screen was silent, her record sold quite a bit, such was the allure she conveyed.
Of course Pat O'Brien was his usual fast talking promoter, though slowed down a bit due to hangover. He didn't contribute anything musical here, but he's always a pleasure to watch.
Phil Regan did some vocalizing including the elaborate Muchacha finale number. The DeMarcos danced, Wini Shaw sang, and Judy Canova in her screen debut reprised a hillbilly version of The Lady In Red to a flustered Edward Everett Horton. It was quite a funny moment.
In Caliente is not the best of the Busby Berkeley Warner Brothers musicals, but it's still good entertainment.
IN CALIENTE (First National, 1935), directed by Lloyd Bacon, is a
musical tribute to a then popular Mexican resort town south of the
border from San Diego, California, most noted for its horse racing and
gambling. It stars hot tamale Mexican-born actress Dolores Del Rio in a
lightweight story with an overly familiar plot redeemed by a good score
and fine choreography by Busby Berkeley. With Berkeley on hand, instead
of focusing on his trademark dance numbers of geometric patterns and
overhead camera shots, he leans heavily on the current trend of
ballroom dancing popularized by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The
dancers in question for IN CALIENTE are the now obscure names of
DeMarcos, Tony and Sally.
The story centers upon Larry MacArthur (Pat O'Brien), president, critic and editor of New York City's smartest magazine, Manhattan Madness, who has a habit of writing bad reviews without ever seeing a performance. Harold Brandon (Edward Everett Horton), vice president, wants to break up Larry's engagement to Clara Thorne (Glenda Farrell), a gold digger who not only prefers to get married on a Thursday, but has had won three previous breach of promise suits. Knowing the upcoming marriage will be a mistake, Harold succeeds in getting Larry drunk enough to take him unconscious from both his job and Clara via airplane to Aqua Caliente, a Mexican resort. While there, the conscious Larry at first demands to be returned to New York, but once he meets up with Rita Gomez (Dolores Del Rio), he decides to have his holiday in Mexico and remain, unaware that Rita, a concert dancer, was one of the performers he criticized in his review. Recognizing Larry as the man who had given her a bad write-up, Rita plots on humiliating him, with the help of Jose Gomez (Leo Carrillo), her uncle and manager who pleasures in cheating "suckers" at cards. More problems arise when Clara arrives to claim Larry.
On the musical program, songs include: "Mexicando/In Caliente" (several reprises, mostly sung by Mariachis); "To Call You My Own" (sung by Phil Regan, danced by Dolores Del Rio and unidentified partner); "The Lady in Red" (sung by Winifred Shaw, chorus, Judy Canova), by Mort Dixon and Allie Wrubel; and "Muchacha" by Harry Warren and Al Dubin (sung by Phil Regan, Dolores Del Rio, and chorus).
Long on story and comedy, with songs spread apart while the two Berkeley production numbers are saved for the near conclusion. Of the songs presented, only "The Lady in Red" is notable. While introduced in IN CALIENTE by Winifred Shaw, and given the reprise "hillbilly treatment" by comedienne Judy Canova, it's best remembered as a dance number sung and performed by Desi Arnaz in one of the classic episodes to the 1950s TV comedy series, I LOVE LUCY (CBS, 1951-1957) starring Lucille Ball. Phil Regan, an Irish tenor, playing the role of Pat Casey, but acting the part as Pedro Casinova, is the male vocalist. He heads the grand finale of "Muchacha" opposite Del Rio, in a rare opportunity in which she sings (briefly) on film. Her vocalization is adequate, but at times sounds more like the singing of Kitty Carlisle from two Bing Crosby musicals, HERE IS MY HEART and SHE LOVES ME NOT (Paramount, 1934). Carlisle, however, is best noted for her performance opposite The Marx Brothers in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA (MGM, 1935).
While this is essentially a showcase for Dolores Del Rio and Pat O'Brien, Edward Everett Horton not only comes close in stealing his many scenes in his overly familiar performance from his leading actor, concluding the story with a funny fadeout. Another plus is the location filming at Agua Caliente. Chris Pin-Martin, as one of the mariachis, recites the catch phrase, "English not so very good looking." IN CALIENTE is typical yet manages to be entertaining as 1930s movies go. For more enjoyment with this south of the border musical comedy, watch IN CALIENTE whenever it plays on Turner Classic Movies. (***).
OK, if you haven't seen "42nd Street" or "Footlight Parade" or the
first few Gold Diggers movies, this is probably not where to start.
OTOH, if you have those virtually memorized (and many do), there is
much here to enjoy.
The moguls of Old Hollywood were gambling men not only in their work, but at play as well. They had an abiding interest in horse racing, which accounts for the preposterous number of pictures set at the track which seldom made money but made the "suits" happy.
The horrified WASP establishment froze out any participation by movie folk in Los Angeles area race tracks, so the high rolling execs founded a track of their own across the border in Agua Caliente. So there's some documentary interest here in seeing where the Hollywood elite went to play and, more importantly, bet.
It's tough to put together a musical where She can barely sing or dance and He not at all, but this movie manages it. Plenty of crackling Julius Epstein dialog is kept moving briskly by Lloyd Bacon, one of the better straw bosses on the Warners prison farm.
Edward Everett Horton, more assertive here than with Fred Astaire, Glenda Farrell, Leo Carillo and Luis Alberni keep the proceedings airborne, and Hermann Bing hits a lifetime peak of sublimity trying to spell "rhododendron" through his gargling Austrian accent. How Judy Canova got into all this I don't know, but her cameo leaves quite an impression. I also brood about Dolores del Rio jumping off the high diving board in platform wedgies. Aren't you supposed to be barefoot for that?
There's only one musical hit, "The Lady In Red," and if you've ever seen Bugs Bunny in drag, you already know it. For those who OD'd on platinum blondes in other Busby Berkeley production numbers, they're all brunettes here. George Barnes and Sol Polito turn in some gorgeous camera work, and Orry-Kelly outdoes himself with some of the costumes.
This is a fun, feel-good picture that was made in a hurry and turned out a lot better than it had to be. It's good for smiles, and maybe a lot more.
A typical fast paced Pat O'Brien movie that includes the alluring
Deloris De Rio, the normally befuddled Edward Everett Horton, Leo
Carrillo - popular 1930s talent, and much music and dancing. Watch for
Judy Canova doing a great scene as "the Lady in Red" with Edward
One error that is repeated in both the IMDb cast listing and a number of viewer comments, is that the "Sally" De Marco in this film is actually "Renee" De Marco (Tony's second wife/dancing partner). Sally didn't start dancing with Tony until 1941, this film was made in 1935! Also, Sally and Renee had very different dancing styles, with Sally always having a most exciting and polished performance. I suspect because Sally had been a ballet dancer and had a very intense stage presence plus she was quite beautiful. Renee was a good solid dancer, but typical smooth Ballroom dancer, not flashy but very, very smooth. Sally's performances, in comparison, would cause you to watch in awe.
All in all a very entertaining, albeit sort of "whacky", movie to watch!! Don't miss it!
Several characters in this film make it difficult to like. The worst of
these is the leading man (Pat O'Brien). He is very abrasive, rather
mean-spirited, fast-talking and an alcoholic! In fact, there's really
little to recommend this guy. Additionally, Leo Carillo plays a guy who
is a cheat and a thief. With characters like these, it's hard to
understand what was going through the writer's mind when they created
this bizarro film.
"In Caliente" begins in New York. Larry McArthur (O'Brien) is awakening from a bender and this friend and business partner Harold (Edward Everett Horton) marvels that the drunk writes his theater reviews without even going to see the performances! You assume it's because he's an alcoholic jerk and soon he's drunk again--dead to the world after drinking a bottle of whiskey. Harold is concerned about Larry's self-destructive life as well as his upcoming wedding to a gold-digger (Glenda Farrell) he barely knows, so he whisks the unconscious Larry to a resort town in Mexico, Caliente, to dry him out and get him away from this girl. Unfortunately, Rita Gomez (Delores Del Rio) is there performing--and Larry savaged her some time ago in one of his reviews. Naturally, he also never saw her in person and he truly deserves her to destroy him--which she plans on doing. However, over time they start to fall in love with each other--though I have no idea why. Why would he love her--she's not a whiskey bottle! And, he is just nasty and a drunk--and what sane woman would want that?! For comic relief, we have Horton, though he isn't really used well here. His role is more serious than usual. Also, Leo Carillo plays Rita's uncle. As I mentioned above, he's pretty much a thief and this alone is supposed to make him funny--it didn't.
In addition to the romance and comedy, there is a lot of music and dancing--particularly later in the film. These production numbers are the typical Busby Berkeley sort of thing--where the dance numbers are too large for a stadium, let alone a nightclub! One number in particular is notable. "The Lady in Red" is a shockingly risqué number--with very sexily clad ladies who look much more Pre-Code than what you'd expect in 1935 when things were SUPPOSED to be much more sanitized. Oddly, however, the sexiness and beauty of this routine is pretty much ruined when Judy Canova inexplicably enters and begins singing like a slow-witted hillbilly....in Mexico! Huh?! Interestingly, the song morphed into a HUGE and very long production number that lasted a whopping 20 minutes--too long, much too long for my taste.
So, we have unlikable characters, alcoholism, musical numbers that are too long and comedy that isn't very funny. Overall, a complete misfire and waste of talent. See it if you must, I think pretty much everyone in the film did better films than this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved this move when I first saw it on TV way back in the 1960s. Alas, the DVD put out by the normally super-reliable Warner Archive people is defective. The only decent reel is reel 9. The others are presented with a sound volume far too low. So be warned! You'll have to turn the sound level to max for the first 8 reels (and even then it is still a little below par) and then prepare to be blasted out of your seat when the final reel comes along. Well, at least the defective sound track gives us all a chance to study the writing and the performances. The writing, alas, is not the best. The dialogue is neither as witty nor as clever as director Lloyd Bacon and his players may have hoped. They mostly get around this lack of wit by rattling off their lines at speed. So the script is voluble, but not particularly engaging! Nevertheless, it's hard to keep good actors down, so if you'rte prepared to put up with O'Brien and company making the best of a second-rate script, buy the Warner Archive DVD. Fortunately, the musical numbers are a joy (courtesy of Busby Berkeley), but there are just not enough of them to completely obliterate all the marking time, overly wordy dialogue.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a mess! This was during the era when many movies tried to be, or
include stage shows. Its hard to imagine today, but for a period there,
movies were seen as a substitute for attending a lavish show in a
theater or club.
This follows the standard form, in that there is a story that involves a performer or group of performers and they at some point in the story do their show. Usually, the wrapping story is thin; here it is a romantic comedy. The bit is that our hero is a drunk but brilliant editor of the top magazine in the world.
He falls for a gold digger and to save him, the financier of the magazine spirits him to Mexico. There, he encounters a lovely Mexican dancer and falls in love. She is intent on revenge since his drunk review of her ruined her career. But she warms in the end and the two are married. You have gotten more entertainment value out of reading that than the movie can provide.
That's one movie. There's a second, sort of embedded in it, a practiced set of tableaux so that we can ogle the female lead, our exotic dancer. A seemingly endless parade of gowns and casual wear is trotted out for her to model in what would be a fantastic Holloywood career of just looking good. Orson Welles would play with her.
The third movie is the dance stuff. You have to wait for the entire thing to get to the two numbers. They were assembled by Busby Berkeley. It was in his heyday but is pretty tepid stuff. Oh, they are grand and long and large, but clumsy. The first features some gowns with transparent tops, on the cusp of Hayes, I suppose.
The second features lots of horses (on stage?) and our heroine's forehead. She's no dancer.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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