For Reel


The Mexican Spitfire’s Baby (1941)
June 20, 2016, 3:13 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Leslie Goodwins
3 Stars
The Mexican Spitfire's BabyJust as many of the multi-film series of the time did, the Mexican Spitfire only got more outlandish as it went on. When the starting point is a broad comedy about a hot-headed latina, one might be concerned about the films sinking to absurd lows. And yet, the fourth installment (which accompanied Citizen Kane in its original New York run) marks a nice change of pace for the series after its dull predecessor, showing that the filmmakers were both fully in charge of their formula and that they weren’t afraid to take risks by venturing more into the sheer silliness that is expected of a low brow programmer. Early on, Carmelita (Lupe Velez) and Dennis (now played by Buddy Rogers, who is only a mild improvement over Donald Woods) plan to adopt a war orphan… only, because Uncle Matt (Leon Errol) doesn’t specify which war, they end up with a 20-something blonde named Fifi (Marion Martin). A series of miscommunications and inopportune timings ultimately leads to a duel between Uncle Matt’s Lord Epping and Fifi’s husband (Fritz Feld), who hurls knives at his adversary in the film’s terrifically absurd climax. The Lord Epping character had already been played out by this point in the series, but this installment does have the sense to build anticipation for his arrival—it is about the halfway point when Uncle Matt is first confronted with the idea. And, despite the familiar schtick elsewhere, Zasu Pitts is a great addition to the supporting cast (doing what she does best with comedic reaction shots), and Martin gives a fine performance that bucks the expected “dumb blonde” trope (in a series about a fiery Hispanic woman, it’s a nice relief to see the writers back off from yet another offensive stereotype!)

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