Sunday, January 8, 2012
Ginger Rogers Film Review #19 - Flying Down to Rio
Run Time (approximate): 89 Minutes
Directed by: Thornton Freeland.
Associate Director: George Nicholls, Jr.
Executive Producer: Merian C. Cooper.
Associate Producer: Louis Brock.
Screenplay: Cyril Hume, H.W. Haneman and Erwin Gelsey; Adele Comandini (uncredited), Joseph Fields (uncredited), Thomas Lennon (uncredited), Fred Niblo Jr. (uncredited), Gilberto Souto (uncredited), and Harvey F. Thew (uncredited).
Based on a Play by: Anne Caldwell.
Based on an Original Story by: Lou Brock.
Photography by: J. Roy Hunt.
Art Directors: Van Nest Polglase and Carroll Clark.
Editor: Jack Kitchin.
Dances by: Dave Gould.
Sound Recorder: P.J. Faulkner, Jr..
Musical Director: Max Steiner.
Music Recorder: Murray Spivack.
Miniatures: Don Jahraus.
Costumer: Walter Plunkett and Irene (uncredited).
Makeup Artist: Mel Berns.
Research Director: Elizabeth McGaffey.
Special Photographic Effects: Vernon Walker.
Still Photographer: John Miehle.
Also Starring: Dolores del Rio (as Belinha De Rezende), Gene Raymond (as Roger Bond), Raul Roulien (as Julio Ribeiro), Fred Astaire (as Fred Ayres), Blanche Friderici (as Dona Elena de Rezende), Walter Walker (as Senor Carlos de Rezende), Etta Moten (as The Carioca Singer), Roy D'Arcy (as Greek Gambling Syndicate Member), Maurice Black (as Greek Gambling Syndicate Member), Armand Kaliz (as Greek Gambling Syndicate Member), Paul Porcasi (as The Mayor), Reginald Barlow (as Alfredo Vianna, Banker), Eric Blore (as Mr. Butterbass, Assistant Hotel Manager).
UNCREDITED CAST: Luis Alberni (as Rio Casino Manager), Rafael Alvir (as Man), Alyce Ardell (as Maid), Carmen Bailey (as Dancer), Don 'Red' Barry (as Dancer), Leon Beaumon (as Yankee Clipper), Eddie Boland (as Airplane Mechanic), Eddie Borden (as Eddie, Yankee Clipper), Harry Bowen (as Airport Mechanic), Sidney Bracey (as Rodrigues, the Chauffeur), Mary Bracken (as Dancer), The Brazilian Turunas (as Musical Ensemble), Lucile Browne (as Belinha's Friend), Alex Chivra (as Waiter), Helen Collins (as Dancer), Ray Cooke (as Yankee Clipper Banjo Player), Gino Corrado (as Messenger), Sue Curtis (as Dancer), Grace Davies (as Dancer), Henry De Silva (as Waiter), Amapola Del Vando (as Dancer), Armand Delmar (as Dancer), Joe Dominguez (as Waiter), Juan Duval (as Dancer), John Eberts (as Waiter), Celeste Edwards (as Dancer), Emilio Fernandez (as Dancer), Betty Furness (as Belinha's Friend), Vina Gale (as Dancer), Jack Gargan (as Yankee Clipper), Alice Gentle (as Singer in 'Carioca' number), Jack Good (as Yankee Clipper), Margaret Harding (as Dancer), Pauline High (as Dancer), Shep Houghton (as Dancer), Grace Walston Jester (as Dancer), Harvey Karels (as Dancer), Mary Kornman (as Belinha's Friend), Martha La Venture (as Dancer), Perc Launders (as Yankee Clipper), Wallace MacDonald (as Airplane Pilot), Francisco Maran (as Waiter), Helen McAllister (as Dancer), Rex Moore (as Dancer), Laura Morse (as Dancer), Edmund Mortimer (as Nightclub Patron), Movita (as Singer in 'Carioca' number), Clarence Muse (as Caddy in Haiti), Margaret Nearing (as Dancer), Franklin Pangborn (as Hammerstein, Hotel Manager), Manuel Paris (as Man at Aviator's Club), Pedro Regas (as Waiter), Jack Rice (as Yankee Clipper), Ruth Riley (as Dancer), Julian Rivero (as Antonio, Billboard Worker), Gladyce Roberts (as Dancer), Adrian Rosley (as Hotel Atlantico Manager), Audry Savage (as Dancer on Wing), Ruby Jo Savage (as Dancer on Wing), Harry Semels (as Billboard Worker), Barbara Sheldon (as Dancer), Marla Shelton (as Dancer), Mary Stewart (as Dancer/Singer), Jerome Storm (as Dancer), Eddie Tamblyn (as Yankee Clipper), Carol Tevis (as Blindfolded Blonde), Doris Toddings (as Dancer), Alma Travers (as Dancer), Joe Venuti (as Violinist in Orchestra), Dick Webster (as Band Member), Douglas Williams (as Yankee Clipper), Howard Wilson (as Yankee Clipper), and Dorothy Young (as Dancer).
Ginger's Character: Honey Hale.
Approximately 11 Minutes and 0 Seconds (12.4% of the film).
GingerTunes: "Music Makes Me".
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) - (1-10): 8.5 - Ginger is interspersed throughout the film quite nicely...and overall Miss Hale is not overtly sassy, but enough to stand out. She also has some truly funny lines...such as 'Noodle in a Haystack', which is the title of Amanda Cooper's awesome blog... she explains her reasoning for the title HERE (scroll to the bottom)...
Film Quality (1-10): 9.0 - As one of the 'BigTen' of the GandF series, it's been pretty well restored...no issues with sound or film quality.
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: Of course, we all know of Rio's place in cinematic history, and how it was the genesis of the greatest dance duo to ever be captured on film... but putting that invaluable facet aside for a bit, Flying Down to Rio is really a pretty neat little movie.
The film basically follows that now famous swing band The Yankee Clippers and their gigs from Miami to Rio... and the love triangle that develops along the way.
The leader of this ensemble, Roger Bond (Gene Raymond), is quite the hit with the ladies in the crowd...(were these ladies referred to as 'groupies' back then?) to the point of compromising the band's standing with their employers.
Their current gig in a Miami hotel is under the scrutiny of the new hotel manager, Hammerstein (Franklin Pangborn) and his assistant, Mr. Butterbass (really?) (Eric Blore)... their mantra for the employees is 'no fraternizing with the guests'; of course, RB invariably rips that rule to shreds as he falls like a boat anchor for the stunning Miss Belinha De Rezende (Delores Del Rio), and effectively lands the Clippers (when did they become the L.A. Clippers, anyway?) on the streets, despite the warnings of his lead accordion player, Fred Ayres (Fred Astaire - not much thought went into Fred's character's name, eh? The Astaire name was pretty popular at the time, so they tried to make the character name as close as possible, it appears...).
Well, RB makes amends, as he hooks the band up with a gig to open a new hotel in Rio, where he has a fellow bandleader bud involved in the opening, Julio Ribeiro (Raul Roulien). As RB is making plans to 'fly down to Rio', as it were, he finds out that Ms. Belinha (henceforth, let's call her 'Ms.B' for short, shall we?) is headed that way as well... of course, RB is also a professional pilot of some type, and offers up a ride to Ms.B back to Rio (Nancy Grace apparently wasn't around back then to warn of airplane rides with strange dudes...).
Of course, RB effectively 'runs out of gas' (which is most likely a LOT harder to calculate for a plane than in a car...) such that he and Ms.B get to do the 'deserted island' thing, for one night, anyway. That's where they fall well into love, although both play it rather cool...but there's a catch (natch)... Ms.B is already spoken for back in Brazil...and, wouldn't ya know it, the dude just HAPPENS to be Julio, RB's band bud from way back when.
Well, this is where I'll leave the 'love' angle of the story for you to discover; in the meantime, Fred and the songbird of the group, Miss Honey Hale (truly one of the top 5 Ginger character names EV-AH) are working behind the scenes to keep the band's gig alive, as there are Greek Mafia Dudes that are trying to strongarm the hotel owner into selling, thus wanting the hotel opening to flop... ultimately, to circumvent the fact that a 'performance permit' wasn't obtained for the show, the flyboys (yeah, Julio is a pilot as well...how convenient!) come up with the wild idea of strapping scantily-clad hoofers on the wings of their biplanes... now, as an engineer, Huey has several issues with this, besides the fact that it would be purt near (there's that word again) suicide to hang out on a wing of an airplane in action, unless you're a gremlin of some sort...not to mention these planes were meant to have two passengers, tops...so how can you get the thing airborne with 12-14 dames hanging all over it? Not that I'm complaining about the scene... it's DEFINITELY an intense study in 'Pre-Hays Code' provocativeness...
And of course, the wild aerial burlesque show works (was there ever any doubt?), and the masses who witness it give all their money and resources to the new hotel, thus effectively ousting the thug dudes... the final scene is so cool, as Fred and Honey are sipping champagne (well, 'ginger ale' for Honey, of course...:-] ) and checking out the proceedings in the sky via binoculars... this final scene also hints at Ginger and Fred's beautiful friendship to follow over the next 6 or so years... thus that much more awesome.
Favorite Ginger Moments: Of course, the Carioca routine is the start of something pretty dang incredible, but for pure Gingeryness, her solo of 'Music Makes Me' is hard to beat... here's the video of it:
"Neither Miss Rogers nor Mr. Roulien have much to do, but both have a song apiece and both acquit themselves creditably." - New York Journal
"Ginger Rogers, whose talents are highlighted admirably in song and dance, is effectively teamed with Astaire." - Los Angeles Times
"The inspired music of Vincent Youmans, the grace of Fred Astaire, the dark beauty of Dolores Del Rio, Raul Roulien's singing, the comedy of Ginger Rogers and the love-making of Gene Raymond combine to make a glorious Hollywood holiday." - New York American
"An impressive series of scenes are devoted to a dance known as the Carioca. During this interlude that nimble-toed Fred Astaire and the charming Ginger Rogers give a performance of this Carioca. The music is delightful, and besides Mr. Astaire and Miss Rogers many other persons dance the extraordinarily rhythmic Carioca, one feature of which happens to be that of the couples pressing their foreheads together as they glide around the floor... Both Miss Rogers and Mr. Astaire give splendid performances, Miss Del Rio is alluring and sufficent, and Mr. Raymond does well as the handsome hero." - The New York Times
From GINGER: My Story: "In Flying Down to Rio, Fred and I had secondary roles, and provided the comic relief. I played a band vocalist and sang "Music Makes Me"; our big moment together came during the full-scale production number, "The Carioca". Dave Gould was the film's dance director and his assistant was my old pal for Top Speed, Hermes Pan."
"Ask me today if I had any notion of what would spring from "The Carioca" and I'd have to say no. Even looking at Flying Down to Rio now, it is hard to believe that our brief assay onto the dance floor led to a string of musical films." ...there's a lot more stuff in Ginger's bio regarding 'Rio'...check it out!
--- Ginger replaced Dorothy Jordan, who was to be Honey Hale, but dropped out of the production in order to marry the producer, Merian C. Cooper.
--- "The Carioca" was Oscar-nominated for the best song of 1935 (the first year the 'best song' category existed); somewhat ironically, it lost to "The Continental", from 1934's "The Gay Divorcee".
--- Rio was supposed to be Astaire's film debut, but production delays put the film on hold; as a result, Astaire was loaned by RKO to MGM for the movie Dancing Lady, where he does a routine with Joan Crawford.
--- Joel McCrea was to be Roger Bond, but was replaced by Gene Raymond for unknown reasons.
--- Astaire did not want to be 'tied' to one dance partner (as he had just 'broke away' from his sister Adele), and, while he enjoyed working with Ginger, was reluctant to do another film with her; however, after the public's response to their Carioca routine, he relented, much to our benefit...
GingerFilm Ranking: #03 of 20...Ginger has quite the personality in this one, not overtly sassy (save for the bum rush of one of the airplane dames), but Honey is pretty confident in whatever she is involved in, and cranks out quite a few cute one liners... so, considering the first GandF routine is here, as well as the awesomeness that is "Music Makes Me", it has to be in the top 5, right?
After Nineteen Reviews:
#01 - Professional Sweetheart
#02 - 42nd Street
#03 - Flying Down to Rio
#04 - Sitting Pretty
#05 - The Tenderfoot
#06 - The Tip-Off
#07 - Queen High
#08 - Young Man of Manhattan
#09 - You Said A Mouthful
#10 - Carnival Boat
#11 - A Shriek in the Night
#12 - The Thirteenth Guest
#13 - Don't Bet On Love
#14 - Broadway Bad
#15 - Gold Diggers of 1933
#16 - The Sap From Syracuse
#17 - Suicide Fleet
#18 - Follow The Leader
#19 - Honor Among Lovers
#20 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed or reviewed due to unavailability.
Up Next: Chance at Heaven... Ginger plays the sucker in this one, which kind of gets my fur all frizzed... it's pretty unbelievable, y'all... ultimately one of the LEAST sassy performances we'll see for Ginger... but it still most likely has some points of interest.
Until then, as always...