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The Mambo Kings (1992)

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Musician brothers Cesar and Nestor leave Cuba for America in the 1950s, hoping to hit the top of the Latin music scene. Cesar is the older brother, the business manager, and the ladies' man... See full summary »

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Pablo Calogero ... Ramon - The Mambo Kings Band
... Bernardito - The Mambo Kings Band
Mario Grillo ... Mario - The Mambo Kings Band
Ralph Irizarry ... Pito - The Mambo Kings Band
... Johnny Bing - The Mambo Kings Band
James Medina ... Manny - The Mambo Kings Band (as Jimmy Medina)
Marcos Quintanilla ... Willie - The Mambo Kings Band
... Frankie Suarez - The Mambo Kings Band
William Thomas Jr. ... Xavier - The Mambo Kings Band
... Flaco - The Mambo Kings Band
... Cesar Castillo
... Nestor Castillo
... Lanna Lake
... Delores Fuentes
... Desi Arnaz Sr.
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Storyline

Musician brothers Cesar and Nestor leave Cuba for America in the 1950s, hoping to hit the top of the Latin music scene. Cesar is the older brother, the business manager, and the ladies' man. Nestor is the brooding songwriter, who cannot forget the woman in Cuba who broke his heart. Written by Dehlia

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

With a suitcase full of song, Hearts filled with passion, two brothers come to America in search of a dream.

Genres:

Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

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Release Date:

28 February 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mambo Kings  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$6,742,168
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(flashback scene to childhood)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Warner Bros. wanted Jeremy Irons and Ray Liotta for the roles of Cesar and Nestor. Irons screen tested with Antonio Banderas. But Arne Glimcher fought for Armand Assante and Banderas whom he felt were perfect for the roles. See more »

Goofs

When the Castillo brothers first approach New York City in the early 1950s, you can see the World Trade Center towers in the skyline. The towers weren't built until the early 1970s. See more »

Quotes

Anna Maria: He thinks he's the last Coca Cola in the desert.
Lanna Lake: Honey, he is.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in People Like Us: Making 'Philadelphia' (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Mucho Corazón
Written by Emma Elena Valdelamar
Performed by Benny Moré
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label of BMG Music
See more »

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User Reviews

 
overlooked and underrated
25 October 2003 | by See all my reviews

Regarding the recent death of Latin superstar Celia Cruz, I was surprised by the lack of mention of her role in this film in the various obituaries and tributes I read. I don't know if she made movies in Cuba, but she was not only a powerful positive musical presence in "The Mambo Kings" but her character acting was outstanding and very charming. If you don't know anything about her and want to get an idea of who Celia Cruz was, see this movie.

And that is far from the only reason to do so. This is one of my favorite romantic films for adults, as opposed to the juvenile and/or formulaic fare that passes for romance in American cinema. Armand Assante should have been at least nominated for best actor that year, he is so strong and yet vulnerable and lovable as the big brother with a powerful code of honor to his art and his family. The other kid, who has gone on to bigger and not necessarily better things, is also fine, considering his well-publicized effort to deliver his lines phonetically, since he did not speak English at the time. (No, I'm not forgetting his earlier fine contributions to several Almodovar films.)

OK, Roscoe Lee Browne and Cathy Moriarty were a bit miscast, but what about the stroke of genius to have Desi Arnaz Jr play his father? The whole "I Love Lucy" segment of the film, while somewhat contrived in its importance to the story, is funny, well-done, and helps to bring the whole Cuban-American experience in New York into sharper focus, with the portrayal of Arnaz as both a superstar idol and a man very close to his roots.

The music is fabulous, both the use of classic Cuban tracks and new music recorded for the film. Among the latter, "Sweet Maria of my Soul," the theme song performed by both Antonio Banderas in the film and Los Lobos over the end credits, was nominated for Best Song but was beat out by some plastic Disney tune. It is so organic, so romantic and soulful, it should be a classic movie song for the ages. Well, it will be for me...


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