Monday, January 02, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Brazil (1944) - An Olive Films DVD Review

The little-known Republic Pictures musical BRAZIL (1944) has just been released by Olive Films.

Though I'd never heard of BRAZIL, I was fascinated to learn it had been nominated for three Oscars, including Best Song ("Rio de Janeiro" by Washington and Barroso) and Best Scoring of a Motion Picture.

BRAZIL is a fun little romantic comedy from the WWII "Good Neighbor policy" era, with some engaging musical numbers. (You'd never know there was a war on watching this movie, other than a tour guide office is "closed for the duration," and it takes days to book a flight out of the country.) I found it a pleasant surprise.

Virginia Bruce plays American writer Nicky Henderson, who arrives in Brazil to do research for her latest book. She intends to learn everything possible about the country -- in just two weeks!

Popular composer Miguel Soares (Tito Guizar) sees Nicky on a street and is quite taken with her; not telling her who he really is, he convinces her to hire him as her tour guide.

It gets more complicated, with Miguel taking on a second identity as his identical twin brother who can't speak English...well, I'll just stop there as far as trying to explain it!

Edward Everett Horton, a regular in the Fred & Ginger movies of the '30s, here plays a similar role as Miguel's friend. Robert Livingston plays the embassy employee who regularly escorts Nicky to Rio's nightclubs, and Richard Lane is Miguel's music publisher. The cast also includes Henry Da Silva, Frank Puglia, Aurora Miranda, and dancers Veloz and Yolanda.

Oh, and did I mention Roy Rogers? He's in Brazil for a personal appearance tour and shows up at a nightclub during Carnival to sing "Hands Across the Border."

Suffice it to say that I didn't have much in the way of expectations for this film, and I quite enjoyed it. While it's nothing particularly unique or special, it's smoothly done, moves along well, has a pretty good script, nice production values, and pleasing music. My husband was in the next room when I was watching it and commented he could tell it was good just from what he could hear of the soundtrack!

BRAZIL was directed by Joseph Santley. It was filmed in black and white by Jack Marta. The running time is 91 minutes.

The film's reissue title, seen on a poster here, was STARS AND GUITARS.

Olive's DVD is a great-looking print with excellent sound. There are no extras.

The movie is also available from Olive in a Blu-ray edition.

Kudos to Olive Films for making this movie available on such a nice DVD. Those who enjoy musicals or '40s romantic comedies will want to snap it up.

Thanks to Olive Films for providing a review copy of this DVD.


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