13 October 2006 | JohnHowardReid
A big-scale movie about a small-scale fisherman
Simbad was a little disappointing, though I thoroughly enjoyed it once it got going and I resigned myself to the fact that the hero was a pescador (fisherman) rather than a mareado (sailor) and that he was not about to set out on any long voyages let alone battle any fabled beasts. Mind you, the story often borders on fantasy, especially in a marvelous sequence in which the hero contrives to blow himself away with dynamite, and lets itself go altogether in a crazy, musical melange of an Arabian Nights dream.
Tin-Tan is a clever comedian and Solares a gifted writer/director but a lot of time was spent setting the scene. Solares seemed to feel that latecomers might have trouble following the plot, so Tin-Tan kept up a constant chatter for the first half-hour until the last late-comer was seated and then the movie finally moved ahead, though in a different direction. The first 30 minutes had Tin-Tan deserting his faithful Mexican girlfriend, Thelma Ferrino (a lovely girl, making both her film debut and last movie appearance here), in favor of a more mature American tourist, blonde Jacqueline Evans. But when the movie finally set sail, all this material was jettisoned and Jacqueline Evans was virtually dropped from the plot, whilst a new character, an officious policeman called Juanito (who actually came on the scene almost right after the credits), was hilariously re-introduced, enabling Simbad to innocently tango with a group of gangsters operating under the cover of a drawing school (in which Miss Evans is enrolled, though she is no longer either the main or secondary protagonist)! This leads to some very funny sequences involving the gangly, loose-limbed "Vitola" and José René Ruiz's delightfully vicious dwarf.
Adding to the fast-paced and highly athletic action and comedy, are a succession of delightful musical turns, including the foot-tapping dream sequence of course with Simbad dancing and singing through an Arabian night! Tin-Tan is an excellent singer (a pleasing tenor voice) and a very accomplished choreographer. He staged all the songs and dances in the movie including an absolutely stand-out rendition by the provocative "Dolly Sisters". They were wonderful! (Not the sisters that Betty Grable and June Haver portrayed in the 1945 Hollywood movie, of course, but pretty fair imitators)!
Aside from some obvious studio inserts, production credits, led by Solares' skillful direction (which makes imaginative use of real locations in Acapulco) and Herrera's attractive photography, are commendably "A" plus.
Available on DVD through Laguna Films. Quality rating: Ten out of ten.