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Film Review: Pepe

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Pepe

Columbia, 1960 (Color, 195 minutes)

A Mexican peasant (Cantinflas) is taken to California by an alcoholic Hollywood director to serve as a groom for a horse he bought in Mexico. The job leads to many adventures, and the groom meets many famous Hollywood personalities.

Though Judy was supposed to appear in the film, her part was cut down to nothing more than a voice coming from a radio while Dan Dailey and Shirley Jones are dancing. However, the song she sang - "The Faraway Part of Town" - was nominated for Best Song Academy Award.

The film was Cantinflas' second attempt to make a mark in Hollywood, but once again American audiences were not sympathetic to the Mexican actor's brand of humor, so he returned to Mexico where he was already well established as a movie superstar. To this day, Cantinflas' memory is dear to the hearts of the Mexican people.

Crew

Directed and Produced by: George Sidney
Associate Producer: Jacques Gelman
Assistant Director: David Silver
Screen Play by: Dorothy Kingsley, Claude Binyon
Screen Story by: Leonard Spigelgass and Sonya Levien
Based on a Play by L. Bush-Fekete ("Broadway Magic")
General Music Supervision and Background Score by: Johnny Green
"Pepe" and "Mimi" Special Material and Routines by Roger Edens
Songs: "Faraway Part of Town," "That's How It Went, Alright" Music by André Previn, Lyrics by Dory Langdon, Conducted by André Previn; "Pepe" Music by Hans Wittstatt, Special Instrumental by Johnny Green, Lyrics by Dory Langdon; "The Rumble" instrumental by André Previn; "Lovely Day" ("Concha Hacar") Music by Augustin Lara, Spanish Lyrics by Maria Teresa Lara, Special English Lyrics by Dory Langdon; Maurice Chevalier Recordings of "September Song" and "Mimi" courtesy of MGM Records
Choreography: "The Rumble," "Faraway Part of Town" (by) Eugene Loring
Additional Choreography: Alex Romero
Art Direction: Ted Haworth
Associate Art Director: Gunthere Gerszo
Set Decorator: William Kiernan
Gowns: Edith Head
Make-Up Supervision: Ben Lane
Hair Styles: Larry Germain, Myrl Stoltz
Recording Supervisor: Charles J. Rice
Sound: James Z. Flaster
Director of Photography: Joe Mac Donald
Special Sequences Photographed in CinemaScope, Eastman Color by Pathe
Film Editors: Viola Lawrence, Al Clark
Las Vegas Sequences Photographed at The Sands Hotel, The Tropicana Hotel
Bullfight and Fiesta Scenes Photographed at Hacienda Vista Hermosa, Mexico
With Special Appreciation to the Members of the Motion Picture Production Worker's Union of the Republic of Mexico for Their Splendid Co-Operation.

Filmed: Judy's number recorded in April 1960 (she was 37 years old)
Released: December 1960

Cast

Cantinflas (Mario Moreno) [Pepe], Dan Dailey [Ted Holt], Shirley Jones [Suzie Murphy], Carlos Montalban [Auctioneer], Vicki Trickett [Lupita], Matt Mattox [Dancer], Hank Henry [Manager], Sue Lloyd [Carmen], Stephen Bekassy [Jewelry Salesman], Ernie Kovacs [Immigration Inspector], William Demarest [Studio Gateman], Carol Douglas [Waitress], Francisco Reguerra [Priest], Joe Hyams [Charro], Carlos Rivas [Himself], Joey Bishop [Himself], Michael Callan [Himself], Maurice Chevalier [Himself], Charles Coburn [Himself], Richard Conte [Himself], Bing Crosby [Himself], Tony Curtis [Himself], Bobby Darin [Himself], Sammy Davis Jr. [Himself], Jimmy Durante [Himself], Zsa Zsa Gabor [Herself], Judy Garland [voice only], Greer Garson [Herself], Hedda Hopper [Herself], Peter Lawford [Himself], Janet Leigh [Herself], Jack Lemmon [Himself], Dean Martin [Himself], Jay North [Himself], Kim Novak [Herself], Andre Previn [Himself], Donna Reed [Herself], Debbie Reynolds [Herself], Edward G. Robinson [Himself], Cesar Romero [Himself], Frank Sinatra [Himself], Billie Burke [Herself], Ann B. Davis [Herself], Jack Entratter [Himself], E.E. Fogelson [Himself], Jane Robinson [Herself], Bunny Waters [Herself], Shirley DeBurgh [Senorita Dancer], Steve Baylor [Parking Lot Attendant], John Burnside [Parking Lot Attendant], James Bacon [Bartender], James Cavanaugh [Dealer], Jeanne Manet [French Woman], Robert B. Williams [Immigration Officer], Bonnie Green [Dancer], Lela Bliss [Dowager], Ray Walker [Assistant Director], David Landfield [Announcer's Voice], Margie Nelson [Patron], Dorothy Abbott, Kenner C. Kemp, Steve Carruthers, Jim Waters, Billy Snyder [Bits], Frederico Roberto [Cashier]

Musical Program

[0:00] Overture (played by Orchestra behind titles with antics by Cantinflas)
[0:25] Pennies from Heaven / Let's Fall in Love / South of the Border (with special lyrics, short a capella excerpts sung by Bing Crosby and Cantinflas)
[0:39] That's How It Went All Right (sung by Bobby Darin) / The Rumble (instrumental danced by Michael Callan, Matt Mattox and Shirley Jones at Kelly's Alley)
[0:57] The Far Away Part of Town [AAN] (sung by Judy Garland offscreen, danced by Shirley Jones and Dan Dailey)
[1:13] Hooray for Hollywood (short excerpt sung by Sammy Davis, Jr.)
[1:18] Card game comedy routine  (performed by Cantinflas and Jimmy Durante -- great!)
[1:28] Tequila (danced by Debbie Reynolds and Cantinflas)
[1:37] Mimi (sung by Maurice Chevalier with Chorus Girls)
[1:39] September Song (sung by Maurice Chevalier)
[1:44] Mimi (sung and danced by Maurice Chevalier, Cantinflas and Dan Dailey -- great number!)
[1:47] Rhumba (danced by Dan Dailey and Shirley DeBurgh and other nightclub patrons)
[1:52] Pepe (sung by Shirley Jones and Children, dancing through the streets -- cute!)
[2:36] Pepe (sung by Childrens Chorus)
The following musical numbers are not in the print I have, but sources indicate that they are in the film:
Lovely Day (Shirley Jones)
Suzy's Theme (instrumental danced by Cantinflas and Debbie Reynolds)


see soundtrack CD review

Notes

Pepe is an all-star extravaganza, with nearly every star in Hollywood making a cameo. The main characters are Cantinflas and Shirley Jones; the story follows them through their adventures at a major Hollywood studio where Shirley is an aspiring actress. In the process, they meet or see many stars, some of which only have a line or two, some actually have small parts. It is an entertaining movie, and has a number of excellent scenes and musical numbers, though at times, the movie seems a bit long.

The story of Pepe is not a happy one for Judy. Columbia signed her up for the part, but decided she was too heavy to appear on the screen (Judy was just recovering from a particularly bad case of hepatitis), so they staged her scene such that her voice was coming from a loudspeaker as Shirley Jones and Dan Dailey dance to "The Far Away Part of Town". However, Pepe was Judy's first film work since A Star Is Born (1954), and it marked the beginning of another resurgence in her career.

"The Far Away Part of Town" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. The number was written by Andre Previn and Dory Langdon.

Pepe was one of the year's top box-office draws, and received a number of Academy Award nominations: Best Color Cinematography, Best Art Direction (color), Best Costume Design (color), Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Song and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.

See Judy Garland Movies on Video for purchasing information.

See Class Act for more information on this and other classic films.


Pepe Import VHS
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Pepe Soundtrack CD
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Pepe Posters
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Cantinflas




Original title card




Cantinflas and Durante




Original lobby card




Original lobby card




Original lobby card










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