A musical without dialogue set in a Panamanian cabaret-bar during armed American invasion, “Dollar Mambo” fires blanks in almost all departments. Listless direction by Mexican helmer Paul Leduc (“Reed: Mexico Insurgente”) and eye-gougingly obvious political sniping sink a potentially peppy idea early on. Commercial chances beyond hardcore Caribbeanophiles are zip.
Setting is the tacky Salon Panama, where a group of blowzy singers, chorus girls, magicians and actors entertain longshoremen and assorted barrio riffraff. Performers’ routines are cross-cut with a group breaking into and plundering a warehouse full of electronic goods.
Some 45 minutes in, the Americans arrive, rape one of the artistes (Dolores Pedro) and colonize the joint. Pic ends with the cabaret resuming amid U.S. flags and dollar icons.
Colorful opening titles and a shock special effect during the (mimed/danced) rape scene are pic’s only eye-openers. Lineup of well-known artistes is squandered by Paris-trained Leduc’s uninventive visual style, a dully recorded soundtrack and cramped 1.33 visuals. Pedro makes a sassy lead but deserves better.