Famous matador Antonio Morales's disappointment turns to joy when his wife's pregnancy yields twins, and the second child is the hoped for boy. Morales names his twins Maria and Mario, and as soon as he is old enough, begins to train Mario for the bull-fighting ring. However, Mario's interests lie more in music, while his sister Maria is fascinated with the ring. Eventually, Mario is angered by the high demands of his father and leaves town for a chance to study with a famous composer. Mario abandoning the bullring brings disgrace to the family name, but Maria has a plan... Written by
Leonard Maltin's mini-biography of Cyd Charisse contains a very accurate piece of text: "the producers saw to it that she made the maximum impact in the minimal amount of screen time." In FIESTA she has a painfully small role (roughly fifth or sixth billed in the credits), but when it comes time for her to do what she does best, she does not disappoint. The irony, of course, is that she more closely appears Latin (with enhanced Hollywood makeup) than does Esther Williams- and Williams has the dubious distinction of playing the twin sister (!) of Ricardo Montalban. This, of course, is not something to blame on the actors; it's simply one of those MGM premises you have to buy/accept right off the bat. Montalban's debut film shows him off very nicely as a passionate would-be toreador whose first love is composing music. The family seems to be socially prominent and the outdoor set pieces and colorful costumes enhance the south-of-the-border atmosphere quite nicely. But the highlights are undoubtedly from Montalban and Charisse playing young lovers who pause every fifteen or so minutes to dance: first in a sort of group flamenco in a local salon set to the music of "La Bamba," then in a rapturous formal duet (him in black suit and Mexican hat; her in a multi-tiered white gown). MGM must've liked them together as they paired them in no less than four different films in the late 40's: this one, THE KISSING BANDIT, MARK OF THE RENEGADE, and ON AN ISLAND WITH YOU, almost always in dance duets.
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