Sunday, June 08, 2014


This musical concerning the romantic misadventures of a hotel bandleader is remembered today not for its stars, Gene Raymond and Delores del Rio, but for a pair of supporting players who soon would get top billing in their movies: Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. At a Miami hotel, Gene Raymond is the flirtatious bandleader (Astaire and Rogers are part of the band) whose shenanigans have gotten him in trouble before, and now he has been strictly warned not to fraternize with any guests. Unfortunately, Brazilian hottie Del Rio arrives and, even though she's engaged, she sets off sparks with Raymond and the band winds up unemployed—but not for long. They get a job at a hotel in Rio, but complications ensue: the hotel, the target of a hostile takeover, is owned by Del Rio's father, and her intended is an old friend of Raymond's. It’s nice to see Astaire and Rogers shine in their comic relief roles, and whenever there's music, Astaire can't resist the rhythm, like he was born to dance. Their production number together, "The Carioca," is fun, though the best sequence in the film, seemingly inspired by Busby Berkeley, is near the end when chorus girls perform strapped onto the wings of a biplane. Raymond is handsome and charming, though Del Rio is flat and listless. Great supporting players Eric Blore and Franklin Pangborn appear all too briefly in the Miami scenes. A pre-Code movie, there are some risqué elements here and there: Rogers wears a very revealing dress in her first song, and the clothes of the girls on the plane blow off. Fun line, in reaction to Del Rio's sex appeal: "What have these South Americans got below the equator that we haven't?" A fun movie that gets sparkles whenever Astaire and Rogers are front and center. [DVD]

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