Sat 24 Mar 2012
THAT NIGHT IN RIO. 20th Century Fox, 1941. Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Carmen Miranda, S. Z. Zakall, J. Carrol Naish. Musical direction by Alfred Newman; Hermes Pan, choreographer; music and lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren. Director: Irving Cummings. Shown at Cinevent 35, Columbus OH, May 2003.
Oh, that eye-popping technicolor! Great color cinematography makes you want to lap it up like sugar candy, and there was a time when that kind of color was not an unusual occurrence on the screen.
And That Night in Rio, starring a very popular trio of musical comedy performers, matches its eye-grabbing color with vibrant performances that provide some of the movie magic (and it doesn’t have to involve ghosts) that used to be more commonplace.
Well, maybe Alice Faye, a favorite of my errant youth, is somewhat matronly and reserved, but she still cuts a mighty lush figure in a nightgown. (Yes, there’s a semi-naughty bedroom sequence that stays fairly primly but still suggestively on the right side of the Production Code.)
And Carmen Miranda exudes so much energy that it’s relaxing to have Faye taking center screen, with her mellow voice purring seductively in the lyrics for “They Met in Rio.” Ameche’s dual roles may not have the malevolent fierceness of Chaney’s in The Blackbird [reviewed here ], but they suit the well-constructed comic plot to a “T.” A delightful opening film for the Saturday night screenings.
Editorial Comment: To watch a five minute clip from this movie, featuring Carmen Miranda and Don Ameche singing “Chica Chica Boom Chic”, go here on YouTube. Spectacular, indeed!