Masquerade in Mexico
R2 - United Kingdom - Simply Media
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (3rd July 2016).
The Film

Dancer Angel O' Reilly is on an aeroplane to Mexico to meet a man she thought loved her, Boris Cassall (George Rigaud) who instead is using her to smuggle a diamond into the country. Sitting next to her, and not enjoying the flight at all, is Tom Grant (Patric Knowles). Realising that she is being used as a 'mule' for smuggled goods Angel slips the diamond into Tom's pocket. When they land and Tom is searched the diamond is discovered and Tom is taken away for questioning. Angel is met at the airport by Boris. She confronts him about the diamond and Boris initially passes it off as just something to help them start a new life in Mexico but when he discovers that she no longer has the diamond he turns nasty. Angel manages to give Boris the slip but finds herself in a country where she does not speak the language nor have any money. She hires a taxi driver to take her around the local night clubs in search of work but has no luck. When the driver demands his money Angel has to disappoint him by telling him that she is broke. The taxi driver finds out that Angle can sing and arranges for her to get a job at the club where his Brother works as a singer so that she can pay him back. Angel starts work under the guise of a Countess from Spain. At the club is Tom who recognises her from the plane and realises that it was she that planted the diamond in his pocket. Tom confronts Angel and offers her a choice. Tom is in Mexico because his estranged Wife is seeking a divorce. It appears that Tom's Wife, Helen (Ann Dvorak) has fallen for a local, and very popular bullfighter called Manolo (Arturo de Cordova). However, Manolo has spotted Angel himself and has fallen for her. Tom proposes that Angel vie for Manolo's affections thus allowing him to re-conciliate with Helen. The alternative for Angel is that Tom contacts the police and has Angel arrested. Angel therefore has no choice but to follow Tom's plan. Tom pays for her to stay in a nice hotel and outfits her with a complete wardrobe and a car plus a driver. Tom engineers a chance meeting between Manolo and Angel at a bullfight and then ensures that Angel is invited to Tom and Helen's country home where Manolo will also be attending. As Manolo starts to fall further and further in love with Angel Helen suspects that Angel is not a Countess at all and starts to investigate into Angel's past. Tom and Angel's plan starts to fall apart but worse is to come when Boris manages to track Angel down.

'Masquerade in Mexico' is an uncredited remake of Mitchell Leisen's own 1939 film 'Midnight'. Masquerade follows the basic plot line of 'Midnight' relatively closely except perhaps for changing the setting from Paris to Mexico. 'Masquerade in Mexico' cannot quite decide what sort of film it wants to be exactly. There are elements of thriller, romance, comedy and musical and at times the mixture becomes quite the hodgepodge. The film opens as if a thriller but within 10 minutes it has taken turns at farce and then musical. It has to be said that the musical elements fail quite spectacularly with Dorothy Lamour not singing but la-la'ing words instead during the first few 'numbers'. This is, in all fairness, her only shortcomings in the film and otherwise she is good. Patric Knowles is good as the honest banker Tom but his efforts to win back his spiteful Wife Helen seem rather pointless if the truth be told especially as she flaunts Manolo in Tom's face at every given opportunity. Tom points out to Angel that he wants to win back the affections of Helen simply to avoid the embarrassment of a divorce. Quite frankly Tom would have been better off swallowing the shame and live a much happier life without Helen. In trying to be attractive to all audience members 'Masquerade in Mexico' ultimately falls short on all fronts. The script appears witty and fun in one scene and then the next formulaic and stilted. For fans of Dorothy Lamour only.

Video

The DVD is presented in it's original full screen aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The picture quality is, by and large, decent but unfortunately it's buried under a blanket of heavy grain and countless scratches and marks. The monochrome image is a little soft but the blacks are reasonable stable and solid. Simply Media preface the main attraction with their usual caveat about the archival nature of the film and this is fair enough except, of course, by then the disc has been purchased. However, if 'Masquerade in Mexico' is a favourite of yours then I doubt you have seen it looking as good as this unless you saw it in 1945 during it's initial run.

Audio

The English language soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital dual mono. The sound quality is perfectly acceptable. Maybe a little background hiss can be picked up but nothing too distracting. There are no subtitles available on this disc at all.

Extras

There are no extras present.

Overall

A (second) attempt by Director Mitchell Leisen at the same work which is notable in that that it tries hard to marry several genres of cinema together and ultimate falls short on pretty much every level. Dorothy Lamour shines in her role as the sassy dancer Angel but gets little help from a fairly weak script. The plot line does not quite hold up either as Tom goes to great lengths and expense to keep a Wife who clearly does not love him and is happy to cuckold him at every opportunity. Still, there are some hidden moments in the film that made me laugh out loud but sadly they were few and far between.

The Film: C- Video: C Audio: C+ Extras: F Overall: C-

 


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