Pepe (1960)

Genres - Comedy, Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Showbiz Comedy  |   Release Date - Dec 20, 1960 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 160 min.  |   Countries - Mexico, United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

It's amazing that a film as poor as Pepe managed to nab seven Oscar nominations, albeit none in the "major" categories of writing, acting, or directing. A big-budget musical overstuffed with star cameos, Pepe is a mess from start to finish -- and, even in the shortened 157-minute version, a terribly long mess. The screenplay is ridiculous, with the kind of trite story that Hollywood should have stopped making ten years earlier; it lacks suspense, wit, originality, or believability. As a showcase for star Cantinflas, it is sorry stuff, for it asks him to carry a picture without giving him any of the support he desperately needs. Cantinflas is a charming comic figure, but he's incapable of salvaging Pepe, and after a while, one gets tired of him. Shirley Jones does the best she can with a lame part, and is in very good voice; "Lovely Day" and the title tune sound especially nice. The cameos are, as usual in such situations, distracting, although identifying brief glimpses of stars does give one something to do while bored -- and one is apt to get quite bored with Pepe. Certainly the film looks good and deserved its nominations for art direction, cinematography, and costumes; but underneath all the fine visuals is an awful lot of nothing.