#DePelicula Spotlight: Perfidia

“To you / My heart cries out “Perfidia” / For I find you, the love of my life / In somebody else’s arms.”

This is a song about love and betrayal written by Mexican composer, Alberto Dominguez, titled “Perfidia,” meaning betrayal, deceitfulness.  I’m kicking off my month-long spotlight series on Hispanic-themed posts with this memorable melody because it happens to be one of my all-time favorite songs .  The English lyrics were written by Milton Leeds.

Crime fiction writer, James Ellroy who penned such popular books as The Black Dahlia and L. A. Confidential has also had a life-long admiration for “Perfidia,” a song he says, “Always takes me back to a time I never experienced – when L. A. had big gleaming cars and there wasn’t a particle of smog in the sky.” While i couldn’t possibly explain it so eloquently, whenever I hear the song it is a noirish world that comes to mind.

Composer/arranger Alberto Dominguez was born in the Mexican state of Chiapas in 1913. In 1939, he composed two songs that went on to become standards.  The first of those, which I may well also spotlight in this series is, “Frenesí” and the other “Perfidia,” both of which were recorded by many popular latin and jazz notables through the years.  Dominguez passed away in 1975.

Here are a few versions I enjoy:

Perfidia” by Alberto Domínguez (1939)


Xavier Cugat and his Hotel Waldorf Astoria Orchestra – the most successful version of the song.

Glenn Miller and His Orchestra – the most recognizable version today.

Nat King Cole

Dorothy Lamour

Julie London with lyrics if you want to sing along.


“Perfidia” made appearances on radio, TV and in the movies.  Here are two movie scenes featuring the song:

Desi Arnaz sings “Perfidia” in Jack Hively’s Father Takes a Wife (1941) starring Gloria Swanson and Adolphe Menjou.

And here we have the movie appearance of “Perfidia” I am most familiar with as you will certainly be.  Take a look at Rick and Ilsa and listen as they dance in Paris during the flashback sequence.  This is of course from Michael Curtiz’ Casablanca (1941).



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3 thoughts

  1. Great post. I love that song and thank you so much for all the links. I didn’t realise Desi Arnaz had such a good voice. I particularly liked Cugat’s version and Dorothy Lamour.

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