Friday, May 23, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Nancy Goes to Rio (1950)

MGM musicals were my first big movie love, and I've seen most of them -- some of them many times over. Until now, however, I hadn't caught up with Jane Powell's NANCY GOES TO RIO (1950).

The plot involves a mother (Ann Sothern) and daughter (Powell) unknowingly vying for the same role in a play, as well as for the same man (Barry Sullivan). The story is on the silly side, but it's an excuse to enjoy truly stunning Technicolor, pretty tunes like "Time and Time Again" and "Magic is the Moonlight," beautiful dresses by Helen Rose, and a couple of numbers featuring Carmen Miranda.

Miranda plays a woman who is a coffee company executive by day but is inexplicably an entertainer by night. The costume for her final song, with a hat decorated with little umbrellas, has to be seen to be believed. In fact, the entire number has to be seen to be believed; it's an explosion of swirling color. Carmen Miranda was one of a kind. (A reminder -- the boxed DVD set of some of her films will be out in just a couple more weeks, on June 17th.)

NANCY GOES TO RIO is a remake of Deanna Durbin's IT'S A DATE (1940). In the Durbin version her mother was played by Kay Francis, the man involved was Walter Pidgeon, and the exotic locale featured was Hawaii.

The film was directed by Robert Z. Leonard. It runs 100 minutes. The supporting cast includes Louis Calhern, Scotty Beckett, and Hans Conreid.

NANCY GOES TO RIO is available on video and is also part of the recently released DVD set of 9 MGM musicals, Classic Musicals From the Dream Factory, Vol. 3. The DVD print is gorgeous. (October 2017 Update: NANCY GOES TO RIO has been reissued on DVD by the Warner Archive.)

This movie can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies, which has the trailer available here.

This film wasn't the best MGM had to offer, but if you like colorful musicals, there is still much in the movie to make it worth seeing.


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