A Cuban Love Song (1931) – reviewed by George

I was aware of Lawrence Tibbett, but had never seen one of his movies until TCM aired this one. He was a star baritone at the Metropolitan Opera House, and in the early days of talkies enjoyed a popular but short career as a movie star. He was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar in his first film.
Of course I am much more familiar with Lupe Velez, the “Mexican Spitfire” who starred in 8 “Spitfire” movies. “The Cuban Love Song” also stars Jimmy Durante and Ernest Torrence as Tibbett’s navy buddies and Karen Morley as his girlfriend.
This film was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, and the problem for me with the material is that Tibbett’s character is so mean. He makes merciless fun of Durante, who has just been robbed by a tattoo artist who put Durante’s girl’s picture (from a snapshot) on his arm, but incorporated Jimmy’s wart, so that it looks like the girl has a goiter. Tibbett is insulting and ends up ripping the snapshot in two. Then he is nasty to more guys as the ship prepares to leave for Cuba, and once in Cuba he drives too fast in narrow streets crowded with people and animals, and rams hard into the back of Velez’s food cart, throwing her to the street and injuring her donkey.
As he defends himself at the Police Station, I said first. “Who needs this crap?” and second, “This is the worst movie I have ever seen on TCM!”
Of course if I had stayed with it, the Tibbett character would probably have been reformed and made pleasant by the love of Lupe, but why should I wait when I was having a lousy time? Let me save you an hour and a half of your life: do not watch this picture.

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