In the wake of Mexican clown Cantinflas' winning performance in the film Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Columbia Pictures built a big musical comedy film around him. The gimmick behind Pepe, released for the 1960 Christmas season, was that it included "35 guest stars!," performing in cameos. Maybe that was why it ran a stunning three hours and 15 minutes in its initial disastrous run. The soundtrack album, on the other hand, ran 34 minutes, typical of LPs of the day. That was enough time for Sammy Davis, Jr. to build a typically bravura six-minute act around "Hooray for Hollywood," complete with impressions and special lyrics; for Maurice Chevalier to sing his signature song, "Mimi," as well as "September Song," and for Bing Crosby to do a brief medley of standards with Cantinflas. There was also an excerpt from Johnny Green's score ("Suzy's Theme"), though the main composer associated with the film was André Previn (the pianist on "The Rumble" and the songwriter); along with Previn's lyricist wife, Dory Langdon (later known as '70s singer/songwriter Dory Previn), of "That's How It Went, All Right," sung by Bobby Darin, and the Oscar-nominated "The Far Away Part of Town," sung by Judy Garland (who did not actually appear in the picture). Langdon also contributed English lyrics to two Spanish songs to create "Pepe" and "Lovely Day," both sung by Shirley Jones. Though craftsman-like, none of the new material was particularly distinguished. But completist fans of any of the songwriters and performers should know about this album.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann