Cinema, Jun. 3, 1935

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In addition to an eminently shrewd performance by Bette Davis, the picture contains pleasant ones by Ian Hunter and Alison Skipworth, as a onetime Floradora girl, who makes Miriam her protégée.

In Caliente (Warner). The outstanding virtue of this piece is a complete, complacent lunacy which will at once endear it to all cinemaddicts who have given up hope of finding a new kind of musical. It is not really about anything and nothing happens—a practically perfect formula. The set-up is Edward Everett Horton, Dolores Del Rio and Pat O'Brien, behaving with notable insincerity among a lot of puzzling yellow stuff which O'Brien finds to be Mexican sunlight. There are two menaces. One is a blonde (Glenda Farrell) who wants to marry O'Brien. The other is a comment which O'Brien, as editor of a magazine called Manhattan Madness, embodied in a review of a bygone but unforgotten New York recital by Espanita (Del Rio): he referred to her dancing as the progress of a bag of bones across the stage. She is seeking revenge when she lets Horton persuade her to engage Editor O'Brien's attentions so that he will stay in Mexico and forget about Miss Farrell.

If there are times when the luminous patios of the Agua Caliente Hotel, which are used for all exteriors, give the picture the air of an animated resort poster, this impression is corrected by an imperfectly subdued tendency to affront Mexico by portraying it as a country whose people understand English only when they are bribed and whose music exists solely to goad listeners into buying silence. In Caliente is dull only in its more expensive moments. Even Busby Berkeley could not do much with Mexican dance effects that has not already been done and probably the most devastating thing to be said about the Warren and Dubin music is that there are times when it sounds as if it had been written by somebody else. Good scenes: Miss Del Rio saving O'Brien from drowning in the pool into which he dived to pull her out; the "Lady in Red" number; the anatomical direction of a lady's glance when she meets Horton, clad in an open bathrobe, on a stairway.

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