Affair In Trinidad is a 1952 crime film directed by Vincent Sherman. The story follows Chris Emery (Rita Hayworth), who is a nightclub singer and dancer in the British Colony of Trinidad. At the beginning of the film we learn that her husband has been found dead. The police suspect it is murder and they enlist Chris’s help in discovering what may have happened to her husband. He had been working with a wealthy man, Max Fabian (Alexander Scourby), and the police think Max may be involved in something extremely dangerous and potentially detrimental to the world.
Chris’s brother-in-law, Steve (Glenn Ford), had recently received a letter from his brother, and now has traveled to Trinidad, looking for a job that his brother had mentioned. He is shocked to learn about his brother’s death and immediately begins an investigation of his own. Chris and Steve spend all of their time together and begin to fall in love with each other, but Max Fabian is determined to win Chris over, and have her for himself.
After Rita Hayworth’s failed marriage to Prince Aly Khan, she needed the perfect movie with which she could make a “comeback”. It was to be her first film released in almost four years, and Rita knew better than anyone how important it would be for this film to be a success. Affair In Trinidad was produced by Hayworth’s own production company, “Beckworth Corporation”, and released through Columbia Pictures because she was still under contract. It was decided that the best way to bring her career back into full bloom was to re-team her with Glenn Ford, after the popularity of their first two films, The Loves Of Carmen (1948) and her highest grossing film, Gilda (1946). With their stars in place, they then needed some new musical numbers, and that is exactly what they achieved with the song writing team of Lester Lee and Bob Russell. In the opening minutes of the film, Hayworth performs the song “Trinidad Lady”, and it is this song that sets the mood for the entire film. I say she performs the song, but really she only did the dancing. Hayworth’s singing in this film (as well as two more of Hayworth’s future projects) was actually done by Jo Ann Greer. Not that the singing matters much, because the dancing is where Hayworth stands out. The dancing is obviously the main focal point for this particular film, anyway.
From the moment this number ends, Affair In Trinidad begins a downward spiral. The plot is so simple that it is almost non-existent. Many of the questions that are presented in the early stages are never fully answered because they don’t matter. It feels like sections of the film are missing, and now there are just gapping holes in the story. Yet somehow the audience will get to the end without being confused, because the details aren’t even important enough to warrant an explanation.
The filmmakers of Affair In Trinidad must have known that their script had some problems because just at the moment where everything begins to fall apart, Rita Hayworth decides it’s time to break out her other musical number, “I’ve Been Kissed Before”. This number, which is just as entertaining as the first, serves as the perfect distraction from the lack of story that is circling around everyone. The whole cast just stares in awe as Hayworth dances circles around them, and when she is done everyone has to remember what was going on before the song began. At this point the cast (and the audience) doesn’t seem to remember where the story was heading, but it doesn’t matter because it is time to wrap things up, anyway. And that is exactly what happens, in the fastest way possible.
Affair in Trinidad is a true Rita Hayworth movie. She is the only thing that matters in the film as everything else is just window dressing. With her stunning beauty and her charasmatic screen presence, her movies didn’t have to be filled with anything except… well, herself. Every moment that she spends on the screen in Affair In Trinidad makes her seem more breathtaking and almost inhuman, like a goddess instead of just another actress.
Even with all the problems in this story, Affair In Trinidad still satisfies its audience. You hardly even realize what a mess everything was because the filmmakers don’t dwell upon the details. Rita Hayworth shines, because that is what she did continuously throughout her career. Her smile is all that is needed to take this film from a disappointing flop, and turn it into a good way to spend an evening. It is still an enjoyable movie, and it ended up being the perfect comeback film for Hayworth, as it quickly became her highest grossing film, out grossing Gilda by more than one million dollars. Not a bad way to make a comeback. Besides where would we all be without Rita Hayworth and her “Chick-A-Chick, Boom, Chick-A-Boom, Chick-A-Chick-A-Chick”.
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