Cuban Rebel Girls (1959)

“When you become a rebel, you give up a lot of things that make a feminine life easier.”

Synopsis:
A journalist (Errol Flynn) in Cuba during Castro’s revolution narrates the story of two “rebel girls” — including a naive American (Beverly Aadland) searching for her boyfriend (John McKay).

Genres:

Review:
Errol Flynn’s final film before his premature death from alcoholism at the age of 50 was this true historical oddity: a pseudo-documentary about Castro’s revolution in Cuba, centering its “narrative” (I use that word loosely) on the travails of a naive American beautician (Flynn’s own under-aged paramour at the time, Beverly Aadland) who heads to Cuba to locate her rebel boyfriend and quickly finds herself a sympathizer in the cause. “I guess there’s more to this war stuff than I thought”, she notes — with typically brilliant insight — at one point. Unfortunately, Cuban Rebel Girls is really, really bad — but never in an amusing way. At just an hour’s length, it feels far too long, and viewers will be hard pressed to pay attention past the first 15 minutes or so. Poor Aadland can’t act to save her life, and Flynn (playing a variation on his later self — apparently he owned property in Cuba and was a genuine supporter of the revolution) only appears on-screen during the film’s bookends, looking and sounding somewhat disoriented.

A bit of trivia: While making Cuban Rebel Girls, Flynn simultaneously cobbled together a shoddy documentary called Cuban Story, which I have no intention of checking out, though it was apparently released on DVD recently, for those with insatiable curiosity.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • An all-too-brief brief snippet of a most interesting folk tune, played about 35 minutes into the film for just a few seconds (I’m really stretching here)

Must See?
No, though I suppose it’s worth a cursory glance (two minutes or so will do) simply for its status as an historical oddity. Listed as a Cult Classic in the back of Peary’s book.

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One Response to “Cuban Rebel Girls (1959)”

  1. Not a must ~but not the ‘horror’ I was anticipating either.

    Flynn is actually very much a part of this: he does “bookend”, but also appears midway briefly, and he narrates as well. He doesn’t come off “disoriented” to me, really. But he doesn’t have that much real presence either; there’s a vague shadow of his former movie star charm. (If you like tall, cute, bearded revolutionaries, John McKay is nicely on-board as Rebel Capt. Johnny Wilson.)

    Overall, ‘CRG’ (which sounds like a Corman title and/or one might expect Pam Grier to show up) comes off like something that means well, even if some of the dialogue is silly. Surprisingly, the direction is not totally incompetent and it’s shot reasonably well (considering).

    But an “oddity” it certainly is. Is it worth hunting down even if only for its political value? I wouldn’t think so. It’s not as if you learn a whole lot – this is a small document about the struggle to bring Castro to victory.

    No real ‘cult’ value here.

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