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.
Columbia Pictures Corporation
S. Sylvan Simon
Evelyn Keyes, Keenan Wynn, Ann Miller, Allyn Joslyn, Tito Guízar, Felix Bressart
Themselves: Veloz, Yolanda, Enric Madriguera
Steve Farraugh (Wynn) is a musical producer in Rio de Janeiro. He is dating his dancing leading lady Linda Lorens (Miller), but he still misses and loves his ex-wife Vicki Dean (Keyes). And he misses her creative ideas for his shows. However, Vicki is prepared to marry John Habour (Joslyn). Steve does everything in his power to keep Vicki from getting married. Meanwhile Tito Guízar (himself) is also in love with Linda.
-Loose remake of His Girl Friday (1940). There isn’t a newspaper connection, but the plot revolves around a husband trying to get his wife back who is engaged to another man.
-Ann Miller’s last film under contract with Columbia
-In Ann Miller’s autobiography “Miller’s High Life,” she married her first husband Reese Milner during filming, who wanted Miller to end her career. After the film was completed, she broke her contract, and Columbia’s studio head Harry Cohen, sued her.
-Choreographed by Jack Cole, Eugene Loring, Nick Castle
-The finale number
-“Man is Brother to a Mule” performed by Ann Miller and Tito Guízar
-“Copacabana” performed by Tito Guízar
-“Thrill of Brazil” performed by Tito Guízar
-“The Custom House” performed by Ann Miller
Without running across it during research, I wouldn’t have realized “The Thrill of Brazil” was a musical remake of “Front Page” and “His Girl Friday.” That said, this isn’t one of those musical remakes that is word-for-word the original (like say High Society).
While “Thrill of Brazil” is a B-musical, it’s very entertaining and has some very funny moments. The film is more a comedy with musical numbers sprinkled throughout. Ann Miller has a couple funny songs, like “Man is Brother to a Mule.”
The finale number is the musical highlight; largely shot in the dark and shadows and shows the culture of Brazil. It’s a gorgeously shot but also has one of the funniest scenes in the movie. Keenan Wynn gets stuck on stage and has to try his best to play along with the dancers while trying to find his way off stage.
During the 1940s, the Good Neighbor Policy was in full swing and “The Thrill of Brazil” is one of those films that showed a South American influence because of this cultural influence.
What is the Good Neighbor Policy? During the President F. D. Roosevelt administration, FDR said that he wanted to be a good neighbor to other nations. This policy focused on relations between the United States and South America, and the U.S. worked to promote their culture. You can see the cultural impacts in films like this one or “Down Argentine Way.”
Evelyn Keyes doesn’t sing or dance, but is great in the film. Allyn Joslyn is flustered throughout the film and Felix Bressart is hilarious in his small role. I was unfamiliar with Mexican singer Tito Guízar prior to this film, but I’m glad I was introduced to him here. He has a beautiful voice.
While “Thrill of Brazil” is filled with beautiful dance numbers and humorous songs. While it isn’t the best musical and is a remake of a well-loved comedy, it’s a great deal of fun.