Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Temple Tuesday: Shirley Goes Latin!

What happens when Shirley and Cinco de Mayo collide? You’ll find out today! Cinco de Mayo (aka the fifth of May) celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, it has become a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage here in the U.S.

There weren’t many Latin-themed elements in Shirley’s movies. The only one I could think of was the pitiful “Honeymoon.” About the only thing I can recommend about it are two dance numbers that Shirley performs.

The movie is set in Mexico; the premise is that an underage Shirley is supposed to meet her honey, Guy Madison, in Mexico to be wed. Trouble immediately begins when they have difficulty finding each other. With the help of the American Consul, played by Franchot Tone, things work out...until Shirley falls off a pool diving board and lands on Franchot. When she wakes up, she’s in love with him. She’s 17; Tone was in his 40’s, and his character was engaged. Oh, and falling off a diving board onto Madison was how those two fell in love. Are you with me yet? If you say “no,” I can’t blame you. There’s a bit of an ‘ick’ factor to the Tone-Temple storyline; so bad that actor Joseph Cotten turned the role down, even though it meant he was to be put on suspension. Wise career move, Joseph!

This series of publicity photos was taken by famed LIFE photographer Peter Stackpole:

In early March 1946, RKO announced that the film was to be shot in and around its new Churubusco studios near Mexico City. Because of a workers' strike in the Mexican film industry, filming was delayed by a month. The cast and crew shot for approximately three weeks in and around the Mexican studio. Over two hundred Spanish-speaking extras were hired to appear in the film. I do not believe Shirley went to Mexico; all of the location shots have a very bad double who looks nothing like our gal. Instead, all of her work was back in the U.S. at the studio.

The film wasn’t released until 1947, receiving a not-so-good review from the New York Times:

The friends of Shirley Temple must be getting a little bit tired of seeing this buxom young lady still acting as though she were a kid. Shirley is no Greta Garbo, which is plain enough to see, but she certainly deserves an opportunity to act smarter than she does in “Honeymoon,” her latest RKO comedy…In this frivolous item, for which frivolous is really a flattering word, she plays a flighty little subdeb who arrives in Mexico City to be married to an American soldier-boy who has flown up from Panama to meet her. But she misses connection with him first, and then when she does finally find him, they have all sorts of trouble getting wed—mainly because Miss Shirley is so casual and careless about things. To be sure, her "Dreamboat," Guy Madison, is no mental giant himself, but with all her foolish behavior, it is no wonder he gets provoked with her at times. However, through the frantic assistance of the American vice consul, Franchot Tone—with whom the little lady, at one point, thinks that she has fallen in love—the whole mess is straightened out nicely, but not until poor Mr. Tone has been driven almost to his wits end and to a break with his fiancée, Lina Romay. Incidentally, Miss Romay sings more sweetly than does Miss Temple, who has a couple of songs.

The joke was on the Times; Shirley’s two songs were dubbed. Why, I have no idea, as neither song would have been out of her capabilities and the voice she is lip-syncing to is obviously not hers.

I hope you’re Cinco de Mayo is a blast; have a margarita for me! And if you decide to watch this movie, you should have at least TWO margaritas!

See more Shirley photos at my main website.

1 comment:

Fifthrider said...

Let me back up and clarify earlier comments about a time machine and going back to better days. Not all were better. Poor Shirley.