That Night In Rio (1941) Directed by Irving Cummings. Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Carmen Miranda (90 min.)
This movie has a wonderful start with mountains, sunset, fireworks and fiery Carmen Miranda singing "Chicka Chicka Boom Chick" IN TECHNICOLOR! This color makes Carmen Miranda look wonderful. Right after this song, she yells at her boyfriend in fast Portugese for smiling at the audience when he sang "Chicka Chicka Boom Chick." The only part I can understand is:
Larry: I was home in bed by twelve!
Carmen: Oh, Yeah?
Larry: Yeah... I've got to get a new mattress!
And they both storm away.
In this movie, Carmen could play shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers because she has a very good aim with her shoe at Larry (her boyfriend)'s head. This movie has just one comical part after comical part! After she throws her shoe at him, she confronts him and starts yelling in Portugese again.
He says, "I've been trying to teach you English for six months, now say what you're going to say in English. "OK" says Carmen, "You is a low down, no good ham!" in a very thick Brazilian accent. "Are, are," Larry yells, "You are!" "You are a low down, no good ham!" "Once more," he tells her. "You are a LOW down, no GOOD ham!" "Perfect, perfect!" She looks so proud of herself, too.
Two minutes into the movie she calls, "You grrrrrassss in the snake!" Hilarious! This was the first movie she got speaking lines in, before it was just singing, and how she uses them, too. The songs in the movie also include, "Ay, yai, yai, yai, yai, I like you very much, Ay yai yai yai yai, I think you're grand" and "That Night in Rio."
The movie is about a man who switches place with a Baron who is in financial trouble, and he takes care of it without meaning to. I strongly suggest this movie to anyone who likes Technicolor, Carmen Miranda and a fun time. As a matter of fact, I would recommend it to anyone who loves fun.
Notes by moviediva: That Night in Rio IS a fun movie. The mass movie audience that could enjoy a fantasy musical like this is sadly, history. And whatever Carmen Miranda means in the context of a WWII "Good Neighbor Policy" with Latin America, and how feminist critics deconstruct her "ethnic otherness" and whether she was allowed romances with Latino men or Anglo men, and if she felt confined with being typecast as a Brazilian samba goddess, one thing is clear: Her exuberance is contagious. She looks happy, and she makes you happy! The music is fabulous, and she was allowed to portray herself as the star she had been in Brazil. She speaks and sings in Portugese, and if the accent is exaggerated a bit, she was a comedienne, after all, not Bette Davis. She's not ridiculed for her sexual assertiveness and her desirability leaps off the screen. If Don Ameche seems like an underserving suitor, imagine her with Ben Affleck or Brad Pitt. She'd snap them like toothpicks! How can you not want to sing and dance, sway your hips, wear jangly bracelets and exotic turbans...chicka, chicka boom?
(Drawings of Carmen by moviediva, jr., photo from That Night in Rio from David Shipman's (1970) The Great Movie Stars--The Golden Years).