Musical Monday: “The Cuban Love Song” (1931)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

cubanThis week’s musical:
“The Cuban Love Song” –Musical #482

Studio:
MGM

Director:
W.S. Van Dyke

Starring:
Lupe Velez, Lawrence Tibbett, Karen Morley, Jimmy Durrante, Louise Fazenda

Plot:
Marine Terry (Tibbett) meets Nenita (Velez) when he upsets her peanut cart in Cuba with his car. The two have a romance, but he has to leave her to fight in the Cuban War. Though he loves Nenita, Terry has to return to his fiance Crystal (Morely). Many years later, we see now married Terry reunite with his military buddies and unhappy in his life in the upper social stratosphere. He returns Cuba in search of Nenita.

Trivia:
-The film was not a success, but two of the songs- “The Cuban Love Song” and “El Manisero” (The Peanut Vendor Song)- became hits, according to the book “Lupe Velez: The Life and Career of Hollywood’s “Mexican Spitfire”” by Michelle Vogel.
-At the end of the movie, the prop boys presented Velez with a hand-carved makeup box. She said, “Every man offer Lupe diamonds, which she no take, but no man ever made anything for her with both his hand,” Vogel cited a 1932 issue of “Photoplay” in her book.
-“The authors are doing their best to kill my movie career, I haven’t had a good story yet,” Tibbett is quoted in the book “The First Hollywood Musicals” by Edwin Bradley.
-Tibbett’s final musical for MGM.

Lupe Velez and Lawrence Tibbett in "Cuban Love Song"

Lupe Velez and Lawrence Tibbett in “Cuban Love Song”

Highlights:
-Lawrence Tibbett is the first noted opera singer to star in films, so it is interesting to see Tibbett on screen. The Metropolitan Opera singer was only in six films and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in “The Rogue Song” (1929).

Notable Songs:
-Cuban Love Song sung by Lawrence Tibbett
-El Manisero sung by Lupe Velez

My Review:
This isn’t the greatest film and did poorly in the box office. However, I enjoy most films that star Lupe Velez. In this movie you get to see her energy and hear her singing voice, which is pretty good.
It is also interesting to see Metropolitan Opera singer Lawrence Tibbett in films.
“Cuban Love Song” isn’t the best musical ever made and doesn’t have a unique plot. But it kept me fairly entertained.

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