Flying Down to Rio (1933)

80 or 88-89 mins | Musical, Romantic comedy | 29 December 1933

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HISTORY

According to a FD news item, executive producer Merian C. Cooper hired writer Anne Caldwell to develop a story for a musical from an idea devised by associate producer Louis Brock. Onscreen credits indicate that Caldwell wrote a play based on Brock's screen story. The copyright record states that the film was based on a play by Caldwell and Brock, which was based on Brock's original story. No evidence that the play was ever produced theatrically has been found.

       Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made their debut as an entertainment team in this picture. (Although Rogers had made more than twenty films prior to Flying Down to Rio , Astaire had appeared briefly in only one film, M-G-M's 1933 musical Dancing Lady .) The Var review said of the film: "The main point of Flying Down to Rio is the screen promise of Fred Astaire. That should be about as important to Radio as the fact that this picture is not destined for big grosses, because the studio may eventually do things with this lad." Contrary to Var 's gloomy predictions about the box office, the film was a hit and helped RKO to avoid bankruptcy and receivership. A news item in FD mentioned that, as a result of the success of Flying Down to Rio , the real mayor of Rio de Janeiro offered to name a city in Brazil after Brock.

       Contemporary news items report the following information about the production: Prior to principal photography, cameramen J. Roy Hunt and Dick Deval spent one month in Rio de Janeiro ... More Less

According to a FD news item, executive producer Merian C. Cooper hired writer Anne Caldwell to develop a story for a musical from an idea devised by associate producer Louis Brock. Onscreen credits indicate that Caldwell wrote a play based on Brock's screen story. The copyright record states that the film was based on a play by Caldwell and Brock, which was based on Brock's original story. No evidence that the play was ever produced theatrically has been found.

       Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made their debut as an entertainment team in this picture. (Although Rogers had made more than twenty films prior to Flying Down to Rio , Astaire had appeared briefly in only one film, M-G-M's 1933 musical Dancing Lady .) The Var review said of the film: "The main point of Flying Down to Rio is the screen promise of Fred Astaire. That should be about as important to Radio as the fact that this picture is not destined for big grosses, because the studio may eventually do things with this lad." Contrary to Var 's gloomy predictions about the box office, the film was a hit and helped RKO to avoid bankruptcy and receivership. A news item in FD mentioned that, as a result of the success of Flying Down to Rio , the real mayor of Rio de Janeiro offered to name a city in Brazil after Brock.

       Contemporary news items report the following information about the production: Prior to principal photography, cameramen J. Roy Hunt and Dick Deval spent one month in Rio de Janeiro taking footage for scenes in the film. Cyril Hume replaced Erwin Gelsey as the writer of the screen treatment after Gelsey was hospitalized for injuries suffered in an automobile accident. Gene Raymond replaced Joel McCrea in the lead; one news item claimed that the substitution was due to scheduling difficulties, while another cited Raymond's piano playing abilities as the reason. RKO withdrew William Cagney from the cast because his part was "not important enough." Writer H. W. Hanemann, who received a screen credit with Gelsey and Hume, was also assigned to "sit in" as a dialogue director on the production. Mark Sandrich, who later directed many of the Rogers-Astaire pictures, was assigned to direct a second production unit. When a third unit was added, directed by Ben Holmes, Sandrich was quoted as saying, "One more unit and Lou Brock will have it split into molecules." Composer Vincent Youmans wrote two songs for the production that were not included in the final film: "The Guest Is Always Right" and "The Streets of Rio." His song "Carioca" was nominated for an Academy Award. Other actors who were announced as cast members but did not participate in the filming include Arline Judge, Pert Kelton, Helen Broderick and Chick Chandler. Because of a "chorus girl" shortage in Hollywood, producer Brock and a cameraman went to Texas to scout for possible casting additions. Out of 1,500 women who applied, 100 were tested. According to a FD news item, Dorothy Trail was cast in the film after her father, responding to a radio broadcast in which Brock announced that RKO was searching for "brunettes," sent her to Hollywood from Arkansas. Her participation in the final film has not been confirmed. Singer and dancer Mowita Castenada was "discovered" by RKO producer Pandro S. Berman while attending a RKO sales meeting in San Francisco. Alice Gentle and Hazel Hayes were well-known opera singers. Contemporary news items add Margaret Mearing and Enrico Caruso, Jr. to the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to studio production files, scenes were shot at Malibu Beach and Mountains, Cabrillo near San Diego, the Ambassador Auditorium in Los Angeles and in Miami, FL. Aircraft used in the film included Waco Sport, Fairchild 71, Buhl Pup and Stinson Detroiter, according to production files. Although not seen in the viewed print, color tinting was added to the film for the "Orchids in the Moonlight" sequence, according to Var .

       Modern sources add the following information about the production: Brock convinced Merian Cooper, a member of the board of directors of Pan American Airways and a lover of adventure stories, to undertake the musical by emphasizing its aviation elements and setting it in an exotic location. (Pan American had begun service from Miami to the South American coast in 1932, and its "clipper" aircraft were used in the film.) Financial troubles at RKO ruled out Brock's plan to shoot the musical in three-color Technicolor. Because Dorothy Jordan had understudied Fred Astaire's sister Adele in the stage play Funny Face , she was considered for the role of "Honey." Her marriage to Cooper prior to production curtailed her participation in the film, however. Astaire had met Rogers in 1930 while restaging one of her numbers from the 1930 Gershwin Broadway musical Girl Crazy . (Another source states that the duo met while performing in the 1931 Broadway show Top Speed .) In his autobiography, Astaire claims that the studio cast Rogers, who had just signed a seven-year contract with RKO, only days before rehearsals were scheduled to begin. Rogers, who was trying to start a career in dramatic film acting, was less than thrilled about performing in a musical but told Astaire she thought the project might be fun. Astaire began his long-term collaboration with Hermes Pan on this production. Astaire says in his autobiography: "Dave Gould was assigned as dance director but I did most of my work with his assistant, Hermes Pan." Because Rogers was working on other films while Flying Down to Rio was in pre-production, Pan had to rehearse her dance steps with Astaire and then teach her the routines just before shooting. Pan reportedly came up with the idea for the part of the "Carioco" number in which Astaire and Rogers touch heads and make turns without losing contact. In addition to Pan, Astaire also met and worked with pianist and musical arranger Hal Borne for the first time on this film. Borne appears briefly in the film playing the piano. As part of his role in the 1931 musical The Band Wagon , Astaire learned how to play the accordian and played it during his scenes in Flying Down to Rio .

       Dissatisfied with his performance in the film, as well as his screen persona, Astaire left for London immediately after shooting ended and revived his starring role in the stage musical The Gay Divorce . To his surprise, the film's previews were well received, and Pandro S. Berman sent a wire to London assuring the dancer of his success. Astaire and Rogers' dance duet in the film, "The Carioca," dazzled audiences and created a "Carioca" dance craze around the country. To capitalize on the dance craze and Rogers and Astaire's sudden popularity, studio publicists billed the burgeoning team as "The King and Queen of 'The Carioca.'" In addition, Berman went immediately to see Astaire in The Gay Divorce , while RKO signed him to a contract. The film's most notable line, which is spoken by one of Belinha's friends in the Miami hotel, "What have these South Americans got below the equator that we haven't?" was disapproved of by both censors and reviewers. The film's final "aviation" sequence was shot in an airplane hangar and used suspended airplanes and wind machines. Back-projection and process shots were also used in the sequence.

       Modern sources add the following actors to the cast list: Ray Cooke ( Banjo player ), Gino Corrado ( Messenger ), Harry Semels ( Sign poster ), Jack Rice ( Musician ), Martha La Venture ( Dancer ), Sidney Bracey ( Rodriquez, chauffeur ), Manuel Paris ( Man at Aviators' Club ), The Brazilian Turunas ( Band ), and Howard Wilson, Francisco Moran , Carol Tevis, Eddie Tamblyn, Alice Ardell, Rafael Alvir, Eddie Boland, Julian Rivero and Pedro Regas. Modern source crew credits include Mus rec Murray Spivack, Miniatures Don Jahraus , Researcher Elizabeth McGaffey, Make-up Mel Berns, Still photog John Miehle. According to Var , RKO withdrew Flying Down to Rio from theatrical circulation in 1980 because of perceived overexposure. For more information on the Astaire-Rogers teaming at RKO, see listing below for Top Hat . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Dec 33
p. 3.
Film Daily
19 Apr 33
p. 6.
Film Daily
24 May 33
p. 7.
Film Daily
19 Jun 33
p. 4.
Film Daily
21 Jun 33
p. 10.
Film Daily
22 Jun 33
p. 7.
Film Daily
13 Jul 33
p. 28.
Film Daily
25 Jul 33
p. 8.
Film Daily
2 Aug 33
p. 6.
Film Daily
24 Aug 33
p. 22.
Film Daily
6 Sep 33
p. 10.
Film Daily
14 Sep 33
p. 10.
Film Daily
21 Sep 33
p. 8.
Film Daily
27 Sep 33
p. 4.
Film Daily
2 Oct 33
p. 6.
Film Daily
20 Dec 33
p. 9.
Film Daily
24 Mar 34
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jul 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jul 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 33
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 33
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 33
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Sep 33
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 33
p. 2, 3
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 33
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
16 Dec 33
p. 30.
New York Times
22 Dec 33
p. 25.
Variety
26 Dec 33
p. 10.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Movita Castañeda
Maria Shelton
Helen MacAllister
Don Barry
Lucille Brown
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
3rd unit dir
Dir addl scenes
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir 2nd unit
Asst dir addl scenes
Asst dir addl scenes
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig story
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
2d cam
Asst cam
2nd unit photog
Background photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Asst propman
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Asst rec
Boom
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
DANCE
Dance dir
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
Grip
Asst grip
Pilot
Pilot
Pilot
Loc mgr
Best boy
Still photog
STAND INS
Stand-in for Dolores Del Rio
Stand-in for Gene Raymond
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on an unpublished play by Anne Caldwell and Louis Brock (copyrighted 18 May 1933), which was based on an original story by Louis Brock.
SONGS
"Music Makes Me," "Orchids in the Moonlight," "Carioca" and "Flying Down to Rio," music by Vincent Youmans, lyrics by Edward Eliscu and Gus Kahn.
DETAILS
Release Date:
29 December 1933
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 21 December 1933
Production Date:
23 August--6 October 1933
late October--7 November 1933
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
29 December 1933
Copyright Number:
LP4408
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80 or 88-89
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Roger Bond, the playboy leader of the "Yankee Clipper Band," is fired from an engagement in a Miami hotel when he violates the hotel's policy against fraternizing with the guests by dancing with Belinha De Rezende, a beautiful Brazilian woman. Later, Roger arranges for the band to play at a friend's hotel in Rio de Janeiro, and when he discovers that Belinha also wants to go there because her father is ill, he connives to fly her in his two-seater airplane without her vigilante aunt and chaperon, Dona Elena. In spite of warnings from his best friend, Fred Ayers, the band's choreographer and accordian player, Roger fakes engine trouble and lands his airplane (which he has equipped with a piano) on a quiet, moonlit beach in Haiti. Against her better judgment, Belinha allows Roger to romance her with words and music but tells him that, as part of a family arrangement, she must marry a young Brazilian as soon as she reaches Rio. The next morning, Belinha discovers Roger's repair ruse and deserts him to join Dona Elena on the regular flight to Brazil. In Rio, Roger confesses to his friend, Julio Rubeiro, his love of Belinha, unaware that Julio is Belinha's fiancé and that the hotel's financially beleagured owner, Carlos De Rezende, is her father. At a casino gala, while the band's singer, Honey Hale, and Fred investigate their musical competition, Roger is introduced to Belinha by Julio. Although dismayed by his discovery, Roger determines to win Belinha from Julio. Honey and Fred, meanwhile, are pleasantly surprised to discover the "Carioca," a popular local dance. Soon after, a syndicate of Greek ... +


Roger Bond, the playboy leader of the "Yankee Clipper Band," is fired from an engagement in a Miami hotel when he violates the hotel's policy against fraternizing with the guests by dancing with Belinha De Rezende, a beautiful Brazilian woman. Later, Roger arranges for the band to play at a friend's hotel in Rio de Janeiro, and when he discovers that Belinha also wants to go there because her father is ill, he connives to fly her in his two-seater airplane without her vigilante aunt and chaperon, Dona Elena. In spite of warnings from his best friend, Fred Ayers, the band's choreographer and accordian player, Roger fakes engine trouble and lands his airplane (which he has equipped with a piano) on a quiet, moonlit beach in Haiti. Against her better judgment, Belinha allows Roger to romance her with words and music but tells him that, as part of a family arrangement, she must marry a young Brazilian as soon as she reaches Rio. The next morning, Belinha discovers Roger's repair ruse and deserts him to join Dona Elena on the regular flight to Brazil. In Rio, Roger confesses to his friend, Julio Rubeiro, his love of Belinha, unaware that Julio is Belinha's fiancé and that the hotel's financially beleagured owner, Carlos De Rezende, is her father. At a casino gala, while the band's singer, Honey Hale, and Fred investigate their musical competition, Roger is introduced to Belinha by Julio. Although dismayed by his discovery, Roger determines to win Belinha from Julio. Honey and Fred, meanwhile, are pleasantly surprised to discover the "Carioca," a popular local dance. Soon after, a syndicate of Greek financiers and Alfredo Vianna, a local banker, conspire to take over Carlos' hotel. Confident that Carlos will be unable to obtain entertainment permits while the mayor of Rio is out of town, Alfredo arranges for the police to shut down rehearsals for the hotel's opening night show. Roger, however, outsmarts Alfredo by devising a plan whereby the show will be executed on top of a fleet of airplanes while flying over the hotel. Just before the show, Roger receives a letter of gratitude from Carlos and, moved by the old man's words, informs Julio that he is leaving immediately for Buenos Aires. After Roger and Belinha say a tearful goodbye, the show, performed by dozens of chorus girls strapped to the airplanes, proves to be a hit and guarantees Carlos' solvency. Although Honey advises Julio to elope with Belinha, Julio chooses to sacrifice his claim on Belinha and unites her with Roger on board the Buenos Aires-bound airplane. As Roger and Belinha are about to be married by the pilot, Julio jumps out of the airplane and parachutes back to Rio. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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