Film and action summary
Based on the 1914 book Love Insurance and a remake of the 1919 film of the same name, One Night in the Tropics marks the film debut of Abbott and Costello. Jim Lucky Moore and Steve Harper are best friends. Steve is engaged to Cynthia, but his ex-girlfriend Mickey keeps getting in the way of their wedding plans. Lucky offers a love insurance policy that guarantees Steve a million dollars if he doesn’t marry Cynthia. The only question is whether the two single jurors will marry the woman they truly love.
A night in the tropics film synopsis
Below is an overview of the spoilers.
Friends Jim Lucky Moore (Allan Jones) and Steve Harper (Robert Cummings) have two different views of love. Steve believes in the concept of love, while Lucky is more skeptical. Steve is very much in love with his fiancée Cynthia (Nancy Kelly). On their wedding day, Steve meets Cynthia’s aunt, Kitty Marblehead (Mary Boland), who disapproves of Steve. Aunt Kitty calls off the wedding, which Cynthia agreed to after Steve ripped off her wedding dress.
The next day Steve tries to write a letter to Cynthia to bring him back. Lucky’s an insurance salesman. He came up with a plan to help Steve get Cynthia back. Lucky offers a love insurance policy that pays out a million dollars if Steve doesn’t marry Cynthia. Either way, Steve will come out on top. While Steve is on the phone with Cynthia trying to make amends, Steve’s ex-girlfriend, Mickey Fitzgerald (Peggy Moran), shows up at the door. Mickey is still in love with Steve and says he wants him back. Steve tells Mickey that he doesn’t want to be with her and that he’s done with Mickey’s carefree lifestyle.
Meanwhile, Lucky informs his father James (Richard Karl) about politics. His father is shocked by Lucky’s policy and says he needs to find someone to sign it. Luck turned to the owner of the Roscoe nightclub (William Frawley), who agreed to sign the policy. Lucky meets Cynthia at the Roscoe Club and discovers that he likes her. Mickey shows up at the club. Steve tries to hide her from Cynthia. Mickey starts singing a song with the club band and immediately starts serenading Steve. Cynthia becomes suspicious and picks up Steve and Mickey kissing in a phone booth. She tells Lucky that she is ending her relationship with Steve. When Roscoe sees that Steve and Cynthia have both left the club unhappy, he tells Lucky that there better not be any problems with the marriage, or Lucky will be in trouble. To cover his bets, Roscoe sends his two awkward henchmen – Abbott and Costello (Bud Abbott and Lou Costello) – to make sure the wedding goes as planned.
The next day, Steve jokes about suicide when Lucky comes in with the news. Lucky told Steve to pack because Cynthia was going to San Marcos. Lucky goes to get tickets for Cynthia’s cruise ship while Steve starts packing. Mickey comes to visit Steve and has him reveal his travel plans. She also learns that Steve has love insurance. Mickey starts giving Steve drinks so he won’t have time to leave. At the boat dock, Lucky worries when Steve is late for the launch and has to board the boat without him. That gives Abbott and Costello time to write a shorter version of Who’s on First? Roscoe, Abbott and Costello find Steve drunk in his apartment. Roscoe orders the boys to send Mickey to Kansas City, and Roscoe explains that he will find a way to get Steve to San Marcos.
On the boat, Lucky meets Cynthia. Cynthia is cold and contemptuous of Lucky. Lucky sings the song that moves Cynthia. Lucky’s singing lures Cynthia out of her cabin, and Lucky tries to apologize to Cynthia on her behalf. She accepts the apology and informs Lucky that she will marry Steve that same Saturday in San Marcos. Aunt Kitty met Lucky and immediately fell in love with him. She tells Cynthia that she should be in a relationship with Lucky, not Steve. At the same time, Abbott and Costello arrive in San Marcos with Mickey. The incompetent duo let the smart Mickey buy tickets in Kansas City, and they moved their trip a little further south. Everyone else is arriving at the San Marcos Hotel at the same time.
Cynthia finds Lucky singing on the porch. Cynthia is beginning to be attracted to Lucky. Steve finds them both on the porch. Steve pulls Lucky aside and tells him that Mickey is at the hotel. Lucky is interested in Cynthia and tells Steve that Mickey must really love her to follow him to San Marcos. Lucky then gets a telegram from his father saying that Roscoe is threatening him for an autograph. Lucky then backed off and encouraged Steve to go after Cynthia again. Steve doesn’t know which girl to chase anymore.
Back at the hotel Cynthia and Mickey ran into each other. Mickey reveals that Lucky has a love interest in Steve, so he urges her to marry him. Cynthia’s furious and looking for revenge. She calls and invites Lucky and Steve to a bullfight with her and Mickey the next day. During the bullfight, Cynthia and Mickey make Lucky and Steve jealous, flirt with the bullfighters and show affection for their riders. Cynthia pretends to be having so much fun with their engagement that she wants to postpone the wedding, causing Steve and Lucky to panic.
Later that night, Mickey flirted heavily with Lucky. Steve gets angry, but Cynthia also gets jealous. When Cynthia starts serenading Rudolfo (Don Alvardo), one of the bullfighters, Lucky gets jealous. Lucky returns the favor by singing to Mickey, which makes Cynthia jealous. In the middle of the song, Lucky starts singing to Cynthia, but Cynthia remembers the trick Lucky and Steve tried and leaves with Rudolfo. Lucky calls his father in New York and tells him he loves Cynthia.
On the wedding day, Roscoe arrives in San Marcos to make sure the wedding goes off without a hitch. Neither Steve nor Lucky want the wedding to happen, but Cynthia blows it off. Roscoe walks into the wedding with his gun and orders Steve and Cynthia to get married so he doesn’t have to pay the insurance. Lucky throws the fruit at Roscoe, grabs Cynthia and runs away. Roscoe, Abbott and Costello are in pursuit. Mickey grabs Roscoe’s gun and orders Señor Escobar (Leo Carrillo) to marry her to Steve, to which Steve agrees. Lucky tells Cynthia he loves her, and they hide out at a carnival. Roscoe eventually catches up with Lucky and Cynthia and tells them that he doesn’t have to pay the million dollars because Steve married Mickey. Lucky realizes that Cynthia loves him, and the two share a passionate kiss.
Additional information about the film
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