20 February 2002 | Mozjoukine
Limp forties Paramount comedy looks like a schedule filling exercise.
The decline in the output of Mitchell Liesen who was once the sharpest director of the Paramount house style comedies at their peak - "Midnight," "Easy Living" "Take a Letter Darling" - overwhelms this mid forties effort in which the mangled remains of the script for "Midnight" can be glimpsed.
Fanciful theories have been advanced for the fall from grace of Preston Sturges who got the recognition that should have been spread over the whole Paramount dialogue comedy cycle, but the truth is that, by the end of WW2, Hollywood had lost the feel for these fluffy entertainments. The work of Sturges, Leisen, Elliot Nugent and (better) George Marshall all faltered and changed direction.
"Masquerade in Mexico" reveals Leisen as the heaviest casualty with a leaden comedy which could as easily have featured any of the contract talent and remained the same picture - Betty Hutton and Brian Donlevy? Lamour is glamorously got up but no one seems to have any confidence in her, playing plot dialogue over her songs and keeping the camera at a distance which shows off the decor and Edith Head costumes rather than performance.
Hard sledding this one.