|Directed by||George Sidney|
|Produced by||George Sidney|
|Written by||Claude Binyon|
|Story by||Sonya Levien|
|Based on||Broadway Zauber play by Leslie Bush-Fekete|
|Music by||Johnny Green|
|Edited by||Viola Lawrence|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$4.8 million (US/ Canada rentals) |
Pepe is a 1960 American musical comedy film starring Cantinflas in the title role, directed by George Sidney. The film contained a multitude of cameo appearances, attempting to replicate the success of Cantiflas' American debut Around the World in 80 Days.
The film received generally unfavorable reviews from critics and failed to match the box-office success of his previous American film. The movie was issued on VHS tape in 1998; to date, there has been no release on DVD.
Pepe (Cantinflas) is a hired hand, employed on a ranch. A boozing Hollywood director, Mr. Holt, buys a white stallion that belongs to Pepe's boss. Pepe, determined to get the horse back (as he considers it his family), decides to go to Hollywood. There he meets film stars, including Jimmy Durante, Frank Sinatra, Zsa Zsa Gabór, Bing Crosby, Maurice Chevalier and Jack Lemmon in drag as Daphne from Some Like It Hot. He is also surprised by things that were new in the U.S. at the time, such as automatic doors. When he finally reaches the man who bought the horse, he is led to believe there is no hope of getting it back. However Mr. Holt offers him a job when he realizes that Pepe brings new life to the stallion. With his luck changing, Pepe wins big money in Las Vegas, enough that Mr. Hold lets him be the producer of his next movie. Most of the movie centers around his meeting Suzie Murphy (Shirley Jones), an actress on hard times who hates the world. Just like with the stallion, Pepe brings out the best in Suzie and helps her become a big star in a movie made by Mr. Holt. The last scene shows both him and the stallion back at the ranch with several foals.
George Sidney later recalled "there were problems dealing with the logistics of making a picture in two countries with a writer's strike going on at the same time. It was difficult trying to schedule around this person and that person and getting all of the people together. Shooting in Mexico with two sets of crew down there posed problems. I was moving back and forth and any time I was in one place I needed to be in another place." Sidney says that because of the writers strike, Durante and Cantiflas had to ad lib their scene together. "It turned out to be pretty funny," said Sidney. "The studio thought we had hired writers on the black market."
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times was not impressed. "The rare and wonderful talents of Mexican comedian Cantinflas, who was nicely introduced to the general public as the valet in "Around the World in 80 Days," are pitifully spent and dissipated amid a great mass of Hollywooden dross in the oversized, over-peopled "Pepe," which opened at the Criterion last night."