March 26, 2006

Week-end in Havana – very 1940s

While you couldn’t call it a great movie, I was surprised at how much fun was to be had with the musical film Week-end in Havana (1941).

For one thing, it just looks good. It’s technicolour and, from a 1940’s perspective, very exotic (it’s set in a Hollywood version of Havana, after all). But it also has four great performances - Cesar Romero, John Payne, Alice Faye and the always singular Carmen Miranda.

Romero, in particular, is wonderful. He’s dashing and he’s funny at the same time. As, in a different way, is John Payne. Alice Faye is your basic Hollywood female star, and she’s very good at it.

This is a very programmed movie, meaning its story is a Hollywood template. And yes, you know more or less how the story is going to go, but that’s fine. In fact, in many ways, that is the point of the movie. It tries to deliver what is expected of it. What makes it work is how well it does this and what it can do within those tight parameters to make it stand out.

Week-end in Havana may not be a movie for everyone; it may be just for people who like this kind of film: classic Hollywood, a musical, a standard story line. This is 1940’s escapism. But my, it is so much fun to watch! At least for me.

Notes:
- I love Cesar Romero's off-white linen suit when he dances with Alice Faye (the white shoes, not so much).

- Strangely, I found the comic romantic scene between Carmen Miranda and John Payne a tad erotic - perhaps it was Carmen's feistiness.

- There are a number of great innuendo moments in this film. John Payne opening the champagne is a good example.

- Carmen Miranda's outfits are wonderfully outrageous. I love them.
Week-end in Havana:
- Amazon.com (U.S.)
- Amazon.ca (Canada)

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2 comments:

Campaspe said...

The only time I ever feel affection for Hugh Hefner is when he's either standing up for the First Amendment, or talking about old movie stars. He's quite the buff. And when I saw an A&E bio on Alice Faye, he did a lovely job of summing up her allure. She seems to have been very much like Betty Grable, wholesome and unpretentious and likable in real life. I also loved her voice, it had a very round, full quality to it. It's been ages since I have seen Weekend in Havana but I remember loving it in my teens.

Bill said...

I really know very little about Alice Faye but having seen this, I'm interested in seeing more. There's a commentary on this DVD version by Jeanine Basinger and she talks quite a bit about Faye. It's quite enlightening, at least for those of us who aren't very familiar with her.