25 March 2005 | F Gwynplaine MacIntyre
Dudley Nichols on an off day.
Dudley Nichols was one of the great screenwriters of Hollywood's golden era, scripting or co-scripting such classic films as 'Stagecoach', 'The Informer' and 'Bringing Up Baby'. I hope eventually to view every Nichols film that still has an extant print. I sought out 'One Mad Kiss' solely because Nichols has a script credit. This is a very low-budget Fox western: I'm not a huge fan of westerns in general, and Fox's contributions to the genre were (with a few exceptions) below the genre's standard.
'One Mad Kiss' manages to conflate two subgenres of the cowboy film. This is a singing-cowboy movie, and it's also a rip-off of 'The Mark of Zorro' and similar tales with a 'Robin Hood' type heroic outlaw on horseback. In this case, the singing cowboy is also the 'Zorro' imitator, in the person of José Mojica playing a vacquero named José Salvedra. He rides into a banana republic which is not so republican, ruled by the cruel dictator Don Estrada. Along the way, José falls for the charms of the dancing girl Rosario (shouldn't that be Rosaria?). The thrills and romance are strictly by the numbers, with some very substandard songs along the way.
I nodded off a couple of times during this movie, which Nichols must have written on an off day. The hero is one of those romantic drifters who is a master of every skill. He's an expert horseman (very plausible), but he also throws knives with unerring accuracy (a bit less plausible, this) and he's a dab hand at swinging from the chandelier. Could we please have a permanent embargo on movie heroes who swing from the chandelier? I've never yet seen a chandelier that was structurally capable of supporting the weight of a man. In 'One Mad Kiss', it doesn't help that the stunt sequences are ineptly and unconvincingly staged.
This movie is badly directed by two different people, neither of whom I've ever heard of. The photography and shot matching are poor, too. I doubt that even viewers who like westerns will enjoy this movie. The songs are dull. Mojica isn't much of an actor, and he sings in a vocal style that is now very much out of fashion and probably wasn't very popular even in the 1930s. Antonio Moreno, as the villain, easily out-acts the romantic leads. I'm tempted to rate 'One Mad Kiss' only one point out of ten, but -- as I admittedly dislike westerns -- I'll abstain from giving this movie any rating at all.