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Monday, 19 November 2012

Classic Film Review: Flying Down to Rio (1933)

Flying Down to Rio is notable for being the first screen pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Although they only have relatively minor roles in this, their portion of the dance number 'Carioca' is exquisite: no wonder they went on to become one of the most famous dance partnerships of all time. However, the plot itself revolves around band leader Roger Bond (Gene Raymond) who has a habit of getting his band sacked when he gets involved with yet another woman. This time around it's Belinha De Rezende (Dolores del Rio) who is already engaged to another man. When Bond gets a new job down in Rio, he flies Belinha down there in his plane, only to find themselves stranded on what they think is a desert island. They do finally get to Rio but the situation becomes more complicated when they do.

This is definitely a comedy with music rather than a musical comedy. It only has a few songs, the most memorable of which I've already mentioned. The dance number are, however, dizzying with numerous bodies involved and some interesting camera angles. The highlight of the film is probably the aerial spectacular towards the end when dancing girls perch on the wings of small planes to advertise the band (a nefarious subplot involving some Greeks requires this). Although the scene is absolutely implausible, it is entertaining to watch, especially with Rogers's part in proceedings.

There is some funny dialogue in this one, mainly provided by Astaire and Rogers. It's light and frothy, although I was genuinely surprised by the ending because it seemed to be heading in a different direction. The middle of the film is a little loose and silly but it never professes to be anything else. A nice way to while away an afternoon, if only for the Fred and Ginger scenes.

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