Chu Chu Ramirez is a Mexican farm laborer in California, with lofty ideals, who is very proud of his new American citizenship. During his time off, he tries to befriend the alcoholic bar ... See full summary »
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Chu Chu Ramirez is a Mexican farm laborer in California, with lofty ideals, who is very proud of his new American citizenship. During his time off, he tries to befriend the alcoholic bar girl Nancy. After working for a month for the subsistence farmer Mr. Ames and his frustrated wife, Chu Chu discovers that his paycheck bounces and Ames stalls in paying him. Just after a confrontation between Ames and Chu Chu, Ames is accidentally wounded by his own shotgun and he and his wife blame it on Chu Chu. Despite the support of his friends and sympathetic sheriff, Chu Chu is given a year's sentence. Written by
In the bar as Shelley Winter's character is drunkenly explaining her mess of a life and swipes her glass off the table that crashes to the floor, no one in the bar even turns their head to acknowledge the noise. Surely, someone would have noticed. See more »
The ambitious Chu Chu Ramirez comes to America as a proud new citizen, only to be gypped out of money owed him by farmer Ames. At the same time, he meets downtrodden bar girl Nancy, whom he becomes romantically involved with. But her troubles are deep and difficult. Plus, farmer Ames frames him for an accidental shooting. Will Chu Chu somehow get the breaks he needs and deserves.
I'm not sure what the writers were trying to say here. It looks like something noble since Chu Chu (Montalban) is admirable in so many ways. Plus, he delivers nice little speeches about the virtues of America, suitable for the Cold War, McCarthyite year of 1952. But much of this, however well intentioned, is undone by a turgid script and an absolutely awful performance by Shelley Winters (Nancy). Her constant whining and sour expression (not a single smile) for 90-some minutes almost had me reaching for the "off" button. I realize she's a hard-luck gal, barely surviving at society's lower reaches, but did she have to spread it on so relentlessly and so thick. It made me think the sensible Chu Chu must be some kind of masochist to put up with it. Hers has got to be one of the dreariest turns in Hollywood annals.
At least there's the well-cast iceberg Wendell Corey as the heartless farmer Ames, and a de-glamorized Claire Trevor as his faithless wife. I was expecting their dark pairing to explode at any moment. At the same time, holding the film together is a handsome Montalban, quite winning as the ambitious immigrant. Looks to me like this was a B-production from Dore Schary's brief tenure as MGM head, when he tried to steer the studio away from Louis B. Mayer's relentlessly sunny film fare. Certainly, the settings and photography here are about as bleakly gray as possible. Maybe with a better, more focused script and a less dreary Nancy, the movie might have succeeded in its good intentions. But as things stand, the overall result lacks impact of any discernible kind.
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