Musical Monday: Nancy Goes to Rio (1950)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

nancy goes to rioThis week’s musical:
Nancy Goes to Rio (1950) – Musical #59


Robert Z. Leonard

Jane Powell, Ann Sothern, Barry Sullivan, Carmen Miranda, Louis Calhern, Scotty Beckett, Hans Conreid, Fortunio Bonanova

Francis Elliott (Sothern) is a famous stage star and her teenage daughter Nancy (Powell) wants to follow in her footsteps. Along with wanting the same part in an exciting new play, mother and daughter both fall in love with the same man, Paul Berten (Sullivan).

-Remake of “It’s a Date” (1940) starring Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis and Walter Pidgeon
-In Jane Powell’s autobiography “The Girl Next Door and How She Grew,” Powell said she loved Ann Sothern and that Sothern always had delicious snacks.
-A song called “Mention My Name In Sheboygan” performed by Jane Powell and Scotty Beckett was cut from the film
-Ann Sothern’s last film under contract to MGM.
-Joe Pasternak produced both “It’s a Date” and “Nancy Goes to Rio”
-Helen Rose did the costumes
-Based on a story by Fredrick Kohner, who wrote the popular book “Gidget.”
-Original titles were Ambassador to Brazil and His Excellency from Brazil.

Louis Calhern, Jane Powell and Ann Sothern in "Nancy Goes to Rio"

Louis Calhern, Jane Powell and Ann Sothern in “Nancy Goes to Rio”

-Jane Powell, Ann Sothern and Louis Calhern dancing together to “Shine on Harvest Moon”

Notable Songs:
 Nancy Goes to Rio performed by the ensemble
– Musetta’s Waltz performed by Jane Powell
– Cae Cae performed by Jane Powell and ensemble
Magic Is the Moonlight performed by Jane Powell
Yipsee-I-O performed by Carmen Miranda
Ca-Room! Pa-Pa performed by Carmen Miranda
– Quando M’en Vo performed by Jane Powell

My review:
You may remember that last week’s Musical Monday was the 1940 musical comedy “It’s a Date” starring Deanna Durbin. I thought it would be fun to pair it back-to-back with it’s Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musical “Nancy Goes to Rio” (1950) starring Jane Powell.

This isn’t the only Deanna Durbin film that MGM remade with Jane Powell: “Three Daring Daughters” (1948) with Powell is also a reworking of the Deanna Durbin film “Three Smart Girls” (1936).

It’s difficult to pick which of the two films I like better. They are both extremely similar but different enough to be their own films which are equally a lot of fun.

Ann Sothern and Barry Sullivan in "Nancy Goes to Rio"

Ann Sothern and Barry Sullivan in “Nancy Goes to Rio”

In both films, the daughter gets a role that the mother wants. Needing some help with lines and wanting coaching, Nancy sails to Brazil to see her mother. While Paul Berten (Sullivan) overhears Nancy rehearsing, he thinks she’s pregnant because of the play.

“Nancy Goes to Rio” has the added bonus of Technicolor, Carmen Miranda tunes and the fashions of Helen Rose.

I love Jane Powell and Deanna Durbin and don’t prefer one over the other. There are multiple scenes that are the same as “It’s a Date” but there are multiple points that are entirely different.

I also love Kay Francis and Ann Sothern, and they are entirely different actresses. It’s always wonderful to see Ann Sothern in a large, colorful MGM film since she wasn’t taken as seriously as some of her peers. However, this was Ann Sothern’s last film under contract at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The step down for me in “Nancy Goes to Rio” is the leading man of Barry Sullivan. Sullivan isn’t as handsome or as good of an actor as Walter Pidgeon.

Carmen Miranda in "Nancy Goes to Rio"

Carmen Miranda in “Nancy Goes to Rio”

The supporting cast in this film is also superb featuring Louis Calhern and Carmen Miranda, who are always delightful in everything they are in. At this point, Carmen Miranda’s film career is on the downswing. Miranda had already been dropped by 20th Century Fox and was picked up by MGM but her roles and songs weren’t the same caliber as they previously were. However, her roles are still as colorful and fun.

While Jane Powell always sings lovely songs, it’s Carmen Miranda’s that are more memorable.

While I love “It’s a Date,” I also love “Nancy Goes to Rio.” “Nancy” has enough plot differences that it becomes its own film. Dive into this Technicolor extravaganza when you have a chance.

Promotional photo for "Nancy Goes to Rio"

Promotional photo for “Nancy Goes to Rio”

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2 thoughts on “Musical Monday: Nancy Goes to Rio (1950)

    • Carmen Miranda had one more after this one called “Scared Stiff” in 1953. Have you seen the Jimmy Durante TV episode where you can see she has a heart attack? It’s so sad.


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