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In an unspecified Renaissance kingdom, no sooner has Anube's gypsy tribe encamped near Baron Tovar's village when Count Orso is found murdered. The wicked baron blames the gypsies and imprisons them all in his castle. Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger on a white horse has hidden the murder arrow and won the heart of gypsy belle Carla, to the discomfiture of her erstwhile fiancée Tonio. Baron Tovar is also fascinated by Carla...especially when he notices her heraldic pendant. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
No one said it was going to be a special thing, but seeing a screening of this incredibly and unexpectedly entertaining, albeit highly improbable, TECHNICOLOR yarn truly was special. Of the so-called Universal "Tits & Sand" Maria Montez Easterns, GYPSY WILDCAT was a departure in that there was very little, if any, sand. "Lush" is the first thing I would say in describing the effect of seeing this gorgeous, no, breath-taking print (screened in Bay City, MI) in color like I'd never seen before. Maria Montez keeps on most of her clothes, even managing to keep the mid-riff covered for much of the running time, and although she isn't much of an actress, she is gorgeous (no, breath-taking!), and she knows how to handle the stuff they've laid out for her to do. Jon Hall operates at a more active, swashbuckling level, and he seems to be having a much better time than a lot of the others in the cast, although I'm not so sure he carries the action so much as the action carries him along on a sort of Errol Flynn-school bubble. When the camera is not fixed on this couple, the entire film is sort of passed along from character actor to character actor, as if they are passing off the baton. Taking things mighty seriously are Leo Carillo and especially Gale Sondergaard, who literally runs the show for the entire climactic gypsy revolt sequence. Her craftsmanlike control during this portion of the film is as much a special effect from these escapist Montez vehicles as the technicolor, or the star's costume changes for Montez. The money went into the color, and the spectacle went into the colorful costuming (by Vera West, who apparently threw open the circus trunks). For all its technicolor marvel, GYPSY WILDCAT isn't a heavily populated opus, nor are the sets terribly unique to any one genre (or film), in fact, it was a losing effort trying to figure out GYPSY WILDCAT's intended time period. I love how James M. Cain has the screenplay credit, with additional dialogue by Joseph Hoffman. All I want to know is, what screenplay, and what additional dialogue? But no matter, it is a fun picture. Douglas Dumbrille and Peter Coe are also quite serious about their very different assignments, and both leave you wishing they'd had larger roles, especially the unexpectedly dashing Coe, who gets to share a few smoldering shots with Montez before Hall shows up. Best of all, Nigel Bruce sputters forth the ham like company's comin' for dinner, and lucky for us he does! Just when the great Nigel seems to be on the verge of silliness, he grabs that baton and leads the picture into the exciting finish! Go, GYPSY WILDCAT!
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