The real life incident on which the film is supposedly based, but to which it bears no factual resemblance whatsoever, involved Lieutenant Rowan's relatively safe trip to Cuba carrying an oral (not written) message to General Garcia from President McKinley that the United States was declaring war on Spain and was eager to have Garcia's cooperation. See more »
The story takes place in 1898, but Barbara Stanwyck's hairstyle, make-up, false eyelashes, and riding pants are strictly in the 1936 mode, and, in true Hollywood tradition, remain relatively unsullied despite the many perils of the swamp and and backlot jungle through which she doggedly perseveres. See more »
Feeble attempt to tell a most intriguing espionage tale
Elbert Hubbard's famous essay on how Lieutenant Rowan of the United States Army delivered a message to Cuban rebel general Garcia from President McKinley was embellished to an action adventure story with some horrible casting. I'm betting the real story of Rowan's journey through Cuba was far more interesting.
The horrible miscasting of Barbara Stanwyck as a Cuban senorita is the main problem. She who adopted a nice brogue for The Plough And The Stars and Union Pacific probably would have made it worse had she talked with an accent in A Message To Garcia. I'd like to think that Darryl F. Zanuck in one of the first features of the newly formed 20th Century Fox Studio would have tried for Dolores Del Rio.
I'm sure Zanuck laid out some big bucks to Louis B. Mayer for the services of Wallace Beery. I agree with another reviewer that someone who had spent 10 years in Cuba living hand to mouth as Beery's character had, would have picked up some working knowledge of Spanish. But Beery was good box office back then and Zanuck was no fool that way. What there is of the picture he steals from John Boles playing the real life Lieutenant Rowan and Stanwyck playing a fictional senorita with whom he has a romance.
A Message To Garcia is a nice, but feeble attempt to tell the story of a most intriguing espionage tale.
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