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A ship company employee, Jay Williams, is sent to Florida where one of the company cruise ships is stuck on a reef off of the coast. He obtains waivers from all of the passengers with the exception of Nan Spencer, a department store salesgirl who wants her vacation NOW, not later. Jay is instructed to take Nan to Havana and set her up in the best hotel and keep her entertained. She visits a night club where the star attraction is Rosita Rivas, and meets Rosita's worthless manager, Monte Blanca, who makes a play for her. Trouble also comes in the form of Jay's fiancée, Terry McCracken, when a romance develops between Nan and Jay. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Despite the super-lovely Alice Faye's top billing, exotic Carmen Miranda manages to steal the show. She not only has the pick of the songs, the liveliest dances and the most colorful costumes, but shares the movie's funniest moments with Cesar Romero. Mind you, Alice is most attractively photographed, does wear some beautiful clothes, and does get to sing the haunting "Tropical Magic", one of Harry Warren's loveliest tunes. (Harry, incidentally, hated the picture. He loved Alice, but was somewhat ambivalent about Carmen Miranda and John Payne with "his limited and rather ordinary singing voice." Harry also complained that Fox treated him badly, forcing him to work night and day for four weeks because Carmen had scheduled the movie between other engagements. "I turned out a lot of music, some of which was dropped from the picture. I fell ill and was hospitalized for three months with pneumonia. When I returned to the studio, I found I'd been taken off salary for the whole time, whereas Mack Gordon had been kept on. Waving my walking stick, I stormed into Zanuck's office but his yes-men wouldn't let me see him. Maybe Zanuck knew nothing about it, but his lieutenants did. They were horrible people." In Fox's defense, it should be pointed out that Mack Gordon did write lyrics for "Romance and Rhumba" during Harry Warren's absence).
To my surprise, John Payne's role is more of a character part than that of a romantic lead. It's the lively, personable Cesar Romero who not only shares most of the comedy with both Alice and Carmen, has some delightful run-ins with the heavy (Sheldon Leonard), but supplies romance as well.
The comedy is also helped out by George Barbier as the peppery president and Billy Gilbert as a self-important innkeeper. In the scenes with both these expert comics, Payne plays the fall-guy. And he makes an amusing job of it too.
Walter Lang has directed with his customary expertise and no-one will feel short-changed by the lavish Miranda dance numbers choreographed by Hermes Pan.
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