Kind of a clunky picture about a lovestruck band leader who takes his group to Brazil and falls for a local firebrand. Lots of time wasted on groany romantic drama between musical numbers, then the nine-minute songs wear out their welcome until I start hoping for the return of the groany drama. It’s saved by the charisma of the band members and some light filmmaking flourishes – over-the-top musical bits with oddball camera placement and silly-ass graphic transitions between every scene – brought to you by Thornton Freeland (directed Brewster’s Millions) and D.P. J. Roy Hunt (who also shot I Walked With a Zombie – someone needs to look into this guy). I don’t remember anymore why we watched this in film class at Tech (following Wings and Things To Come), probably something to do with 1930’s audiences’ love and fascination for new technologies such as the aeroplane (“electric tie rack! rackin’ up electric ties!”).
Something like Ginger Rogers’s 25th film, but Fred Astaire’s first, and it’s remembered for that. Central music number The Carioca was oscar-nominated, but beaten by Astaire & Rogers’ follow-up The Continental from The Gay Divorcee. Both songs are five minutes too long, so I’d like to cast my belated vote for the third nominee, Bing Crosby and Miriam Hopkins’s cross-dressing college gangster comedy She Loves Me Not.
Dolores del Rio was harmless in this, would turn up in Journey Into Fear with Orson Welles a decade later. Less harmless was star bandleader Gene Raymond, our blonde German-looking chunkhead romantic lead. Suppose I might have to see him again in Mr. and Mrs. Smith or If I Had a Million, but mostly he had the courtesy to stay out of the more acclaimed movies of the 30’s. Good-natured gentleman Raul Roulien as Dolores’s family-arranged fiancee failed to make as much of an impression as did Etta Moten (“the first Negro woman to play a dignified role in pictures”) who sang a verse of The Carioca, or Eric Blore (Sullivan’s valet) and Franklin Pangborn (another future Sturges player) as comically uptight hotel managers in the opening scene.