After losing their jobs dancing in a chorus, Mae (Joan Blondell) and Sadie (Glenda Farrell) take some advice from one of their friends and head to Havana to meet rich men and snare them in breach of promise lawsuits. But first they need money to get to Havana. Mae decides to hit up Herman Brody (Allen Jenkins) for a loan, claiming she needs the money to go tend to her sick mother in Kansas. He loans her the money, but since he doesn’t have the cash, he has to get a loan from his boss. But before he can get the money to Mae and Sadie, Herman gambles the money away and gets involved in a convoluted scheme involving an insurance policy to cover the lost money.
Once Mae and Sadie make it to Havana, they pose as rich women and quickly meet Deacon Jones (Guy Kibbee). Deacon Jones can’t hold his liquor and can’t afford to be involved in any scandals, so it seems like the perfect target! Plus he has a son named Bob (Lyle Talbot), who catches Mae’s eye. Unfortunately for Sadie and Mae, Bob doesn’t have any money of his own and they meet Deacon’s wife, so a breach of promise suit is out of the question. But they can at least try to trap the Deacon in a scandalous situation and try to get money from him that way.
Meanwhile, Herman is getting into hot water over his insurance scheme and needs to find Mae and Sadie to get his money back. When he finds out he’s been scammed, he hops on the next boat to Havana. But when he arrives, he gets pulled into Sadie and Mae’s scheme to scandalize the Deacon so he can get his money back that way. They cause a scandal all right, but it gets so out of hand that the Deacon can’t buy his way out of it. In fact, the whole lot of them are court ordered to leave Cuba immediately. But that’s okay, because everybody winds up happy in the end.
I can sum up Havana Widows in one word: convoluted. But it’s convoluted in a way that only Joan Blondell and Glenda Farrell could pull off. Both Blondell and Farrell are so good at, well, being Blondell and Farrell, they can do just fine with such cockamamie material. It’s nonsense, but it’s fun nonsense full of rapid-fire dialogue, wisecracks, and a good cast.