Changing his name to Cantinflas, Mexican actor Mario Moreno became the most popular performer in all the Spanish-speaking world, his character combining Harry Langdon's gentleness, Charlie Chaplin's feistiness, and Buster Keaton's knockabout physicality. After the enormous success of
Mike Todd's AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, in which Cantinflas played a key role, Columbia decided to star him in another cameo-packed epic. Here Cantinflas plays Pepe, a Mexican ranch hand whose beloved white stallion is sold to dissolute Hollywood film director Ted Holt (Dan Dailey). Pepe follows
Holt and the horse to California, where he persuades Holt to allow him to stay on and tend the steed. Next, Pepe falls in love with Suzie Murphy (Shirley Jones), a waitress who aspires to movie stardom. When Holt needs money for a film, Pepe takes his meager savings to Las Vegas, wins a bundle,
and gives it to his boss. Holt names Pepe producer of the picture and gives Suzie the starring role, but soon after they begin shooting, Holt is again low on money and has to sell his horse. Pepe's hurt over the sale is aggravated when he realizes that Suzie loves Holt. Eventually all works out
for the best, however, with Pepe reunited with his true love--the horse.
Along the way, there are 35 guest appearances, with the likes of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, Frank Sinatra, Maurice Chevalier, Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, and Jack Lemmon doing various and generally extraneous bits and songs. Even with all of the above, PEPE was a bust at the box office and put
an end to the US career of Cantinflas--who, however, continued to be an enormous success with Spanish-speaking audiences. Songs include: "September Song" (Kurt Weill, Maxwell Anderson, sung by Maurice Chevalier), "Mimi" (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, sung by Chevalier), "Pennies From Heaven"
(Johnny Burke, Arthur Johnston, sung by Bing Crosby), "Hooray For Hollywood" (Johnny Mercer, Richard Whiting, new lyrics by Sammy Cahn, sung by Sammy Davis, Jr.), "South of the Border" (Michael Carr, Jimmy Kennedy, sung by Michael Callan), "Let's Fall in Love" (Ted Koehler, Harold Arlen, sung by
Callan), "Lovely Day" (Augustin Lara, Maria Teresa Lara, English lyrics by Dory Langdon, sung by Shirley Jones), "Pepe" (Langdon, Hans Wittstatt, sung by Jones). Previn and his wife Langdon wrote such new tunes for the movie as "That's How It Went All Right" (sung by Bobby Darin, Callan, Matt
Mattox, and Jones) and the Oscar-nominated "Faraway Part of Town" (sung off-screen by Judy Garland as Jones and Dan Dailey danced). Previn instrumentals included "The Rumble" (danced by Callan, Jones, and Mattox) and "Suzy's Theme" (danced by Cantinflas and Debbie Reynolds). Nominated by the
Academy for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Costume Design.
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- Review: Changing his name to Cantinflas, Mexican actor Mario Moreno became the most popular performer in all the Spanish-speaking world, his character combining Harry Langdon's gentleness, Charlie Chaplin's feistiness, and Buster Keaton's knockabout physicality. A… (more)