Review: ‘Dollar Mambo’

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.

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.

SARASOTA FEST

Dollar Mambo

(MEXICAN-SPANISH)

Production

A Programa Doble (Mexico)/Igeldo Zine Produkzioak (Spain) production. (International sales: Igeldo Zine, San Sebastian.) Produced by Arturo Whaley. Executive producers, Alejandro Springall, Alejandra Liceaga. Directed by Paul Leduc. Screenplay, Jaime Aviles, Jose Joaquin Blanco, Leduc, Hector Ortega, Juan Tovar, from an original idea by Leduc inspired by real events published in the international press April 5, 1990. Additional material, Fernando Lijan.

Crew

Camera (color), Guillermo Navarro; editor, Guillermo S. Maldonado; music, Eugenio Toussaint; art direction, Arturo Nava; costume design, Claudia Fernandez, Jimena Fernandez; sound (Ultra-Stereo), Juan Carlos Cid, Andres Franco, David Barsht; choreography, Marco Antonio Silva; additional choreography, Tito Vasconcelos; associate producers, Berta Navarro, Angel Amigo. Reviewed at London Film Festival, Nov. 18, 1993. Running time: 78 MIN.

With

Jenny ... Dolores Pedro Roberto ... Roberto Sosa Raul ... Raul Medina
With: Litico Rodriguez, Tito Vasconcelos, Eduardo Lopez Rojas, Kandido Uranga , Silvestre Mendez, Gabino Diego, Monica Castillo.
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