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The Gay Desperado (1936)

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Opera singer Chivo is currently playing a singing cowboy, and Mexican bandito Braganza kidnaps him (along with Jane, an heiress) so he can learn to become more like the American movie gangsters he admires.



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Title: The Gay Desperado (1936)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Nino Martini ...
Leo Carrillo ...
Pablo Braganza
Harold Huber ...
Juan Campo
James Blakeley ...
Bill Shay
Stanley Fields ...
Adrian Rosley ...
Radio Station Manager
Paul Hurst ...
American Detective
Al Ernest Garcia ...
Police Captain
Frank Puglia ...
Michael Visaroff ...
Theatre Manager
Chris-Pin Martin ...
Pancho (as Chris King Martin)
Harry Semels ...
George Du Count ...


Opera singer Chivo is currently playing a singing cowboy, and Mexican bandito Braganza kidnaps him (along with Jane, an heiress) so he can learn to become more like the American movie gangsters he admires.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

opera | bandit | mexico | radio | See All (4) »


THE GIANT MUSICAL HIT OF THE YEAR! (original ad - all caps)


Comedy | Musical





Release Date:

2 October 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Canta Bandoleiro Canta  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Featured in Mary Pickford: A Life on Film (1997) See more »


Lamento Gitano/Gypsy Lament
Spanish words and music by María Grever
English version by Walter G. Samuels, Leonard Whitcup and Teddy Powell
See more »

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User Reviews

The Bandito And The Heiress
12 March 2011 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Gay Desperado came out during that short period when every studio had an opera star under contract giving the American movie going public a little culture more or less. The roles these people had were somewhat limited and the vogue passed painlessly enough with people like the star of this film Nino Martini going back to their first loves of the grand opera and the concert stage.

Jesse Lasky discovered Martini and used him on and off in films of varying quality, sometimes only as a guest artist. The Gay Desperado was his attempt to launch Martini as a full fledged star with a role as a singing radio entertainer captured by Mexican bandits. This also enabled Martini to use his accent without it being too noticeable.

Like Harry Cohn at Columbia with Grace Moore, Lasky and his producing partner Mary Pickford gave him full support and his biggest support was hiring Rouben Mamoulian as director. Mamoulian who was successful on the stage as well as film was able to tone down the overacting necessary for an opera singer and make it acceptable for film.

The Gay Desperado also has one gay and witty script involving some Mexican bandits who fall somewhere between the evil Goldhat of The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre and the noble Cisco Kid. Leo Carrillo after listening to American radio reporting and films glamorizing American gangsters thinks its time his group got up to date in their methods.

One night because Carrillo is a music lover he raids the local radio station and captures Martini who is giving a radio concert. Later on to get up to date Carrillo and his gang go in for kidnapping which was big in the Thirties starting tragically with the Lindbergh baby. Heiress Ida Lupino and the boy she was running away with to Mexico, James Blakely. A few cadenzas out of Martini and Ida forgets all about this rather arrogant young fathead she was running away with.

An American gangster and his mob, Stanley Fields horn in on the kidnapping and soon after American detective Paul Hurst is hot on everybody's trail. Pretty soon Leo is thinking that the American gangster style isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Nino Martini's career in film lasted pretty much as long as his fellow opera singers though this film garnered deservedly good critical reviews and public reception. He introduced the song The World Is Mine Tonight which later was revived by Mario Lanza. Probably without that accent he might have tried some of the familiar operettas that were being done at the time and be better known by audiences today.

The Gay Desperado with its good spirit of satirical fun still holds up well for today's audiences. Pity it's not shown more often.

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