UW-Madison professor Kathryn Sanchez helps kick off a brief tribute to dancer and actor Carmen Miranda. Info
If you enjoy musical numbers with big, theatrical spectacles and zany mishaps, UW Cinematheque's 35mm screening of Irving Cummings' 1940 film Down Argentine Way will be a great way to slide into the holiday season. Starring Don Ameche and Betty Grable, this film goes from one flashy sequence to the next with memorable performances from the iconic Carmen Miranda and the physics-defying tap dancing of the Nicholas Brothers. Quintano (Ameche) travels from Argentina to New York to sell some of his father's prize race horses. He was strictly forbidden to sell them to any members of the Crawford family after a long-standing feud in which the father insisted Binnie Crawford's (Charlotte Greenwood) brother swindled him. The suave Quintana finds himself falling for Binnie's niece Glenda (Betty Grable), and initially agrees to sell her one of the horses until he finds out that she is a Crawford. He then backs out of the sale. Not to be outdone, Glenda pursues Quintana when he hurries back to Argentina with Binnie in tow. Maybe it's Miranda's rhythmic gyrating or maybe Quintana and Glenda just get caught up in the rumba, but they manage to overcome the feud and fall in love.
This film is being shown as part of a short series on Miranda, and has been rescheduled to accommodate UW-Madison Professor Kathryn Sanchez's pre-screening talk and discussion of her book, Creating Carmen Miranda: Race, Camp, And Transnational Stardom. This promises to be an interesting discussion given that Miranda was a Portuguese-born Brazilian singer, and served as an all-encompassing version of what Americans envisioned a citizen of an exotic locale of Latin America to look like in the 1940s, with her copious jewelry and a fruit bowl on top of her head. Even dated entertainment has its moments, and Miranda is quite dazzling in Technicolor. Even Charlotte Greenwood manages to throw in some high kicks with her long, statuesque frame which, brings some light-hearted comedy to this film. —Edwanike Harbour