Havana Widows (1933): Ray Enright Directs Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell

Ray Enright sirected Havana Widows, a Pre-Code comedy, starring Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell in one of their many typical pairings.

Two chorus girls travel to Havana in search of rich husbands, targeting a self-appointed moralist with a peculiar drinking problem.

The film is the first of Warner’s series of five movies, in which Blondell and Farrell were teamed as blonde bombshell comedy team. The other films in the series include Kansas City Princess (1934), Traveling Saleslady (1935), We’re in the Money (1935) and Miss Pacific Fleet (1935).

Farrell and Blondell also co-starred in other Warner movies: Three on a Match (1932), I’ve Got Your Number (1934) and Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936).

Blondell is Mae Knight and  Farrell is Sadie Appleby, chorus line dancers in a New York burlesque show, are visited by a former showgirl acquaintance (an uncredited Noel Francis) who received a rich settlement for breach of promise from a married man she met in Havana. Sadie decides they will follow her example.

Pretending that Mae’s mother in Kansas is sick, they get Herman Brody (Allen Jenkins) to promise them $1500. Herman does not have the money, but he convinces his boss, Butch O’Neill, to loan it to him the money.

In Havana, Sadie and Mae, pretending to be rich widows, find Deacon R. Jones (Guy Kibbee), a wealthy horse breeder, in their bed by mistake. However, Mae is smitten with Deacon’s handsome son Bob (Lyle Talbot), though he has no money. Their alcoholic lawyer, Duffy (Frank McHugh), advises them to trap Deacon in a scandalous situation and blackmail him.

In the end, Bob gets a job in New York and marries Mae, and Sadie marries Herman.

A minor, futile effort to wring some fresh humor out of a formulaic tale, typical of Warner’s Depression-era comedies and musicals.

As likable as they are, all the actors plays familiar stereotypes: Blondell and Farrell, as the flip and caustic, down on their luck chorus girls; Guy Kibbee, as the thick-skulled businessman; Allen Jenkins, as the dead-pan gangster; Frank McHugh, as the perennial drunk; Ruth Donnelly, as the prim wife.


I am grateful to TCM for showing the film on December 12, 2019.