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The Invader
(aka An Old Spanish Custom)

Running time: 61 minutes
Release date: January 2, 1936 (filming completed November 1934)
A British and Continental Production (MGM)
Released in the United States by M.H. Hoffberg
Producers: Sam Spiegel and Harold Richman
Director: Adrian Brunel
Script: Walter Greenwood
Photography: Eugene Schufftan
Editor: Dan Birt
Music: John Greenwood and George Rubens
Recording Engineer: Scanlan
Cast:

Buster Keaton: Leadner Proudfoot
Lupita Tovar: Lupita Malez
Esme Percy: Jose
Lyn Harding: Gonzalo Gonzalez
Andrea Maladrinos: Carlos
Hilda Moreno: Carmita
Clifford Heatherly: David Cheesman
Webster Booth: Serenader
 

At the Café el Toro Fuerte [sic], dancer Lupita Malez performs. She is set to marry the café’s owner, the jealous but rich Gonzalo Gonzalez, who is so passionate that he vows to murder anyone she looks at. However, she’s really in love with the vain bullfighter José, and is only thinking of marrying Gonzalo to get the café. She and José hatch a plan: She will flirt with another man, Gonzalo will kill him, Gonzalo will be hanged, and Lupita and José will live happily ever after with their café.

Enter millionaire Leander Proudfoot, who has just arrived in the harbor on his yacht. He’s apparently so clueless that he initially comes out from his boat wearing a kilt before he’s corrected by his butler. When he strolls into town, he is finally dressed up in a flamboyant bullfighter outfit that screams “tourist” to everyone who sees him. Numerous salesmen pester him, trying to make him buy their wares, as a large, laughing crowd follows behind. After a few attempts at evading everyone, he finally succumbs and buys as many plants and animals as he can carry.

Later, at the café, we see José admiring Lupita and her dancing, much to the dismay of Carmita. Gonzalo is also standing nearby. A tuxedo-wearing Leander wanders in and makes a fool out of himself by trying to follow the pretty Lupita backstage. After this, couples are invited to dance on the floor, and Lupita grabs the opportunity to dance with Leander and make Gonzalo jealous, while Leander tries to read Spanish phrases on his shirt cuffs. The plan doesn’t work, because Gonzalo doesn’t even notice.

Leander wanders outside and watches a serenader playing a guitar and singing a Latin song. Leander fantasizes about serenading Lupita on a rainy night, and eventually climbing up to her balcony to give her a kiss. That night, he stands under Lupita’s balcony and strums a ukulele. He initially has the serenader stand behind a wall and sing for him, a la Cyrano de Bergerac, but the serenader’s wife catches him and drags him off. Leander is forced to sing by himself underneath the balconies, but an annoyed man who can’t sleep stands above Leander and drops fruit on him as he sings “In a Little Spanish Town.”

Leander runs into another man who thinks he’s a burglar, and chases him into the café. There, Leander grabs a bass and drags it back under the balconies to sing, but the man catches up with him and chases him off. Leander runs into a policeman, and he joins the chase as well. He loses the men and floats to his yacht using the bass as a raft.

Once there, Leander sees Lupita, who has come on the boat to have supper with him. He confesses his love for her, but in his seasickness, nervousness and dizziness, he knocks Lupita off the boat. He dives into the water to save her, but he can’t swim, so the butler saves them both. But when Lupita wakes up, only Leander is there. She realizes she loves him, and speaks to him in English. But just as they’re about to understand each other, she sees Gonzalo and pushes Leander into the water. Gonzalo sees him anyway and challenges him to a duel in a nearby forest, at daybreak.

Gonzalo drags her back to his café, much to the amusement of the other guests. Carmita and José see it, and she annoys him by saying how much she probably likes the American instead. Meanwhile, Leander sneaks into Lupita’s room. José enters the room, sees Leander and challenges him to a duel in the same grounds Gonzalo mentioned.

The next day, we see that Leander has spent all night studying swordplay, only to realize the duel will be with pistols. Lupita comes over and tells Gonzalo that she’s been seeing José as well. Leander tells Lupita to watch the car as he directs Gonzalo and José in a duel. Gonzalo’s gun jams, and both he and José get into a fight, only to knock each other out. Lupita and Leander marry on his yacht, with the butler and the bought animals from before as witnesses. — Nick Ciccone