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Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga

Six Lessons from Madame La Zonga(1941)


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In New York City, Steve Morrison's Rough Riders perform for talent scout Brady, who likes them, but states that "a cowboy band is as cold as yesterday's dinner." He informs them that only Latin music sells these days. After three jobless weeks, Steve suggests that the band go to Cuba to be discovered. They then get jobs on a cruise ship to Havana, but are hired as servants, not musicians. Aboard the ship are confidence man Mike Clancy and his daughter Rosie, who are traveling under the alias "Alvarez." They are going to Havana in the hope that "Rosita" will perform at Madame La Zonga's nightclub. Fellow passenger and confidence man Chancy Beheegan is told that Alvarez is a rich Argentine tobacco tycoon and sees him as a ripe object for fleecing. Madame La Zonga, who is on the cruise in hopes of finding a wealthy investor for her troubled nightclub, is told that Beheegan is rich and berates herself for "giving him the brush-off" earlier. Alvarez allows Beheegan to read a fake telegram about a gold strike on one of his "plantations," and Beheegan then offers to buy the "failing" business. Upon arriving in Havana, Madame La Zonga is warned that the police are waiting for her at the dock, so she sneaks off the ship dressed as a steward. Beheegan, meanwhile, is grabbed by his fellow crooks, who were cheated by Beheegan during their last swindle. By offering to let them in on his scam of Alvarez, Beheegan convinces them to let him go. When Steve and Rosita go to Café La Zonga, they learn that the club has been closed by its creditors. Meanwhile, Beheegan buys Alvarez's failing tobacco plantation for $1,000, but when his associates try to take the money back from Alvarez, Steve and his band come to the con man's rescue. The musicians are then arrested for brawling, along with Alvarez and Beheegan. When Madame La Zonga bails Alvarez out of jail, Steve learns the truth about the Alvarezes and Beheegan discovers that he has paid $1,000 for a copy of the poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Beheegan and his goons go to the Alvarezes' apartment to re-claim their money, only to learn that it has been invested in Madame La Zonga's nightclub. Madame La Zonga tries to hire Steve's band for the club's re-opening, but, after being duped by Rosie, Steve plans to return to Oklahoma. The nightclub owner and Steve's bandmates, however, convince him to stay. At the grand opening of the club, the police arrive to arrest Rosita, saying the money she deposited in the bank was stolen. With the help of a dancing Madame La Zonga, Beheegan and his gang are arrested instead, and the club opening is a big hit.