Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Eddie Cantor comedy The Kid from Spain (1932), written by Kalmar and Ruby, directed by Leo McCarey, featuring Lyda Roberti, and the Goldwyn Girls, choreographed by Busby Berkley! Is that team or is that a team?! And it’s just as terrific as you would expect. All of these artists are at their peak here. Delectable stuff: hilarious jokes, extremely witty songs…
It starts out with a very funny, sexy musical number set at a college starring an enormous number of pre-code co-eds. Eddie is discovered in one of their beds and expelled, along with his dashing Mexican room-mate (Robert Young!) Young tries to get Eddie to come with him to Mexico but Eddie decides to stay…and then ends up going to Mexico anyway. While parked outside a bank, he is mistaken for the getaway driver of a robbery, and has to drive the escaping gang to their hideout. To avoid capture, he goes to Mexico, where he instantly bumps into Robert Young, who must have been loitering around the border checkpoint. But a detective has followed Eddie across the border. Through Young’s instigation, Eddie masquerades as a famous Spanish bullfighter, the son of one of a famous hero of the ring. (This is one of those films where a bad Spanish accent allows you to communicate with native Spanish speakers). The climax of the film is of course the cowardly Eddie having to do a bullfight. The romantic subplot concerns Robert Young’s trysts with a girl who is affianced to some turkey though an arranged marriage.
Great Kalmar and Ruby songs. “Look, What You’ve Done” reminds me of “Why Am I So Romantic?” from Animal Crackers. “In the Moonlight” reminds me of “Everyone Says I Love You” from Horse Feathers. This being a Cantor movie, there is also unfortunately a blackface** number: “What a Perfect Combination”.
In the end, Eddie is vindicated by a telegram. And it turns out the detective knew the truth all long—he just wanted to see Eddie fight the bull!
**Obligatory Disclaimer: It is the official position of this blog that Caucasians-in-Blackface is NEVER okay. It was bad then, and it’s bad now. We occasionally show images depicting the practice, or refer to it in our writing, because it is necessary to tell the story of American show business, which like the history of humanity, is a mix of good and bad.