Trapped in Puerto Rico, a beautiful young Swede is torn between her passionate, but mildly abusive South American oligarch husband and her longing for her European homeland.

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(as Detlef Sierck)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
...
Don Pedro de Avila
Karl Martell ...
Dr. Sven Nagel
Julia Serda ...
Boris Alekin ...
Dr. Luis Gomez
Paul Bildt ...
Dr. Pardway
Edwin Jürgensen ...
Shumann
Carl Kuhlmann ...
Prefect
Michael Schulz-Dornburg ...
Little Juan de Avila
Rosita Alcaraz ...
Spanish dancer
Lisa Helwig ...
Rosita - Don Pedro's old servant
Géza Földessy ...
Chauffeur (as Geza von Foeldessy)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Franz Arzdorf ...
Doctor #1 in Puerto Rico
Roma Bahn ...
Ebba
Günther Ballier ...
Steward
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Storyline

Astrée Sternhjelm is visiting Puerto Rico with her aunt Ana, and is enchanted by the island. The day before leaving she meets the wealthy Don Pedro at a bullfight arena, and is infatuated by him. Just before the ship takes off, she hears the song "La Habanera" sung by some natives at the quay. The song strikes a chord in her heart, and without hesitating she leaves the boat to find Don Pedro. After some weeks they get married. Ten years later her paradise has turned into hell. She is locked up with her son Juan in the big estate by her jealous and controlling husband. In Stockholm her aunt Ana is financing a foundation, which is sending two doctors to Puerto Rico to research a tropical fever. One of them, Dr. Sven Nagel, was once in love with Astrée, and the aunt asks him to find out what has happened to her niece. When the two doctors arrive to the island, they are met with hostility from the authorities and the local doctors, who are afraid that news about the tropical fever in the ... Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 December 1937 (Slovenia)  »

Also Known As:

Habanera  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Tobis-Klangfilm)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

German censorship visa # B.47111 delivered on 17-12-1937. See more »

Quotes

Astree Sternhjelm: You know, I turned back at the last moment ten years ago as the steamer was casting off. The island seemed to me like a paradise back then. Later, it came to seem like hell.
Dr. Sven Nagel: And now?
Astree Sternhjelm: Now? I have no regrets.
Dr. Sven Nagel: Regret is always foolish.
Astree Sternhjelm: La Habanera...
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Connections

Referenced in Jud Süss - Film ohne Gewissen (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

A-B-C ... Kinderlied
Music by Ralph Benatzky
Lyrics by Ralph Benatzky
Performed by Zarah Leander and Michael Schulz-Dornburg
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User Reviews

 
fever dream of the tropics
5 June 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Zarah Leander was to German cinema of the 1930s what Garbo and Dietrich together were to Hollywood. She physically suggested Garbo and had the same deep, Swedish-accented voice. Unlike Garbo, and much like Dietrich, she often sang in her films while swathed in baroque costumes and tons of makeup and curlicued coiffures so as to convey an extreme artificiality. La Habanera, stylishly directed by Detlef Sierk (the future Douglas Sirk) and beautifully shot is the perfect vehicle for this lush romantic vision of the tropics.

Astree, a young Swede, travels to Puerto Rico with her bilious old aunt, is so enraptured by the tropical atmosphere and the attentions of a local Don (Ferdinand Marian) that she jumps ship to stay there. Ten years later, she's miserable in the remorseless heat and torpidity, crushed by the realization that she made an impulsive mistake, married a man she didn't love and now is sentenced to remain trapped and homesick. Her only consolation is her son whom she estranges from his father, spoiling him, doting on him and singing him twee songs with lyrics about snowflakes on nose tips intertwined with melodic recitations of the letters of the alphabet. One would hope that by the age of 9 the boy would be ready for something a bit more advanced. A parallel plot line involves two Swedish scientists who travel to the island to research and develop a vaccine for the "Puerto Rico Fever" which blows in annually on a "fever wind" and sends people into comas from which they never emerge. The powerful Don does not want the world to think infectious fevers exist on the island – hurts business. So he connives to sabotage their efforts.

Throughout the story the haunting but kitschy title song by Lothar Bruhne and Bruno Balz is sung by various groups of "natives," used as underscoring and in a climactic scene, performed to the hilt by Leander and a Caribbean orchestra in one of most rapturous musical sequences of 1930's filmdom.

Threaded through the plot are criticisms of the United States (via the Rockefeller Institute and a sly dig at President Roosevelt) and a suggestion that Nordic types are better off with their own kind. The depiction of Puerto Rico is pure fantasy, but no worse than the usual Hollywood image of Latin America of the period.


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