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Cecil B. DeMille
Consuelo Cordoba is a headstrong girl trying to reform her con man uncle Don Estaban Cordoba, who is posing as a wealthy tourist in Hawaii. A local woman takes Consuelo under her wing and helps her get a job at the 'Blue Chip Cabaret'. Using the name Lu, she sings, dances and does comedy impressions for the audience of enthusiastic sailors. They enter Lu in the Miss Honolulu contest, but Don Estaban Cordoba has also entered her as his high society niece Consuelo. In the meantime Don Estaban Cordoba is recognized from a previous swindle. He convinces local authorities that Lu is an international spy.Written by
Watch it for Velez; it's a shame she didn't have stronger material
The context. The film is set in Honolulu and was released just four days after Pearl Harbor was bombed. While it has only has a few moments actually from Hawaii, mostly stock footage of surfers with Diamond Head in the background, it's a little eerie to see the lighthearted sailors in the film.
Lupe Vélez. For the representation alone, and it's nice that her performance here is less frenetic and stereotypical than some of her others. She does still bring zest to the role and gives as good as she gets, doling out a few slaps to guys who try to get fresh with her. When she yells at people, watch her throw her whole body into it; I thought this was pretty good acting. Her musical performances in the cabaret appear dubbed and not all that memorable, but she has an appealing presence, donning several cute outfits and shaking her hips provocatively while giving us the teensiest hint of a striptease.
Vélez's impersonations, which deserve special mention. As part of her show, she imitates Marlene Dietrich, Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, and lastly Adolf Hitler, all of which are fantastic. The rivalry she had with Dietrich over Gary Cooper give that one an interesting backstory, and with Hitler, whose mention was often avoided in films, the satire adds to the film's context.
The plot. Don't even try to follow the Miss Honolulu silliness. The material Vélez has to work with is weak, which is a shame. Unfortunately it renders the film pretty mediocre, so if you're not a fan of Vélez, this is probably a film to skip.
Nina Campana's character, 'Aloha'. Her broken English is annoying and problematic. Leo Carrillo's character isn't much better, starting with him not knowing that the name of the ocean is the Pacific.
The production code impact. Vélez's dance moves are sometimes given to us in long shots, distance apparently being an acceptable softening of her sensuality, and at other times, she's shot from the waist up, even though we know she's shaking her hips, a solution akin to that used with Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show 15 years later. The sailors are also cartoons, in one scene crowding around Vélez after a day at the amusement park as she doles out the carnival prizes, because that's of course what they would be clamoring for right? The miscegenation taboo doesn't permit any passion to smolder between Vélez and Bruce Bennett.
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