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The Kid From Spain


The Kid From Spain

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Comedian Eddie Cantor had an extraordinarily successful career spanning nearly five decades; although he was a top star of Vaudeville, Broadway, radio, television, and films, he's now virtually unknown to Americans born after 1960, and his work is rarely seen. Part of a series of video reissues of his popular movie comedies, 1932's Samuel Goldwyn-produced The Kid From Spain is an interesting museum-piece of fluff. The tale of an expelled college student who is forced to flee to Mexico after being mistaken for a bank robber—and who, once below the border, is further mistaken for a famous bullfighter—The Kid From Spain shows its age. Frenetic, goggle-eyed Cantor is as likable as his silly persona will permit, but his one-liners, although well-timed, are mild and with a couple of exceptions unmemorable; he displays little of the sharp, absurdist edge that make his less ingratiating contemporaries, the Marx Brothers, so appealing to cynical modern audiences. The Kid From Spain also features several characters who speak with staccato, nasal accents typical of '30s movies, as well as couple of energetic dance numbers, choreographed by Busby Berkeley in his trademark kaleidoscopic style and performed by a small-breasted, long-legged group of chorus clones known as the Goldwyn Girls. Robert Young, in a very early role, is ridiculously cast as a Latin-lover type with a pencil-thin mustache. The Kid From Spain is filled with Mexican stereotypes, and in a sequence that is eyebrow-raising to say the least, Cantor disguises himself in blackface to escape two tough guys—he even sings a tune accompanied by Goldwyn Girls, whose slick black wigs are painted to resemble grinning minstrels. Embarrassing and offensive though it is, blackface was a common Cantor routine, with intentions more airheaded than malicious. For all its corniness, The Kid From Spain is undeniably fast-moving, and features some enjoyably goofy tunes. It may be dated, but how many of today's comedies will be recognized as classics 65 years from now?