30 November 2001 | mark.waltz
A raucous, fast-moving comic farce.
This is a film which shows that good things come in small packages. A rather short "B" comedy from RKO released in the greatest year that Hollywood had ever seen, "The Girl From Mexico" was the first of 8 films surrounding the hot-tempered yet loving character played by Lupe Velez. Velez had been around Hollywood for over a decade, and was in a career slump when she made this film. It rejuvenated her career, and for the next five years, she made over half a dozen films surrounding Carmelita, the "Girl From Mexico", later known as the "Mexican Spitfire". It was a title that Velez had been given in the early 30's, and now RKO hoped to take advantage of that to give her some much-needed box-office. "The Girl From Mexico" is the first and best of these films, although it was apparent that this was not meant originally to be a series. Well-crafted and fast-moving, the film takes advantage of the chemistry between rubber legged Leon Errol and hot-tempered Velez, and sends them soaring with loads of gags. Sad to say, Velez had more chemistry with Errol than any of the actors in the series who played her husband, Dennis Lindsey.
The story finds Dennis (Donald Woods in this outing) going to Mexico to find a singer for a radio show, and meets firecracker Carmelita. He brings her back, and almost immediately, chaos ensues. Carmelita and his Uncle Matt (Errol) hit it off, and head out for a night on the town where she gets publicity by getting into a boxing ring in the middle of the fight. Dennis is not too pleased by the publicity, and Uncle Matt's shrew of a wife, Aunt Della (Elisabeth Risdon) and fioncee (Linda Hayes) have good reason to be suspicious of Dennis's interest in Carmelita. I need say no more of the ensuing events that bring Carmelita and Dennis together by the end, but there are loads and loads of gags, funny lines, and just pure outrageousness. One of the funniest moments comes when Carmelita and Uncle Matt first meet, and begin to sing at the piano; The scene is classic comedy at its finest.
As the series continued, the plots got more contrived, dealing with Uncle Matt's constant pretending to be Dennis's boss, Lord Epping. However, for the first few films, the fast-pacing and chemistry between Errol and Velez made the "Mexican Spitfire" series a fun-filled hour or so of pure laughter.