Rio Rita

  • 1929
  • 2 HR 15 MIN
  • NR
  • Comedy, Musical

This adaptation of Florenz Ziegfeld's 1927 stage hit was the film debut of the comedy team Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, who had starred in the play. They repeated their success in this half-color, half-black-and-white movie that grossed a fortune at the box office and was one of the first musical spectaculars ever done. Bebe Daniels also made her sound...read more

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This adaptation of Florenz Ziegfeld's 1927 stage hit was the film debut of the comedy team Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, who had starred in the play. They repeated their success in this half-color, half-black-and-white movie that grossed a fortune at the box office and was one of the

first musical spectaculars ever done. Bebe Daniels also made her sound film debut after having played in several Harold Lloyd comedies while still a teenager. John Boles, who had a wonderful singing voice, was on his way to becoming a matinee idol. Shot in only 24 days, RIO RITA was built around a

slender plot--indeed, plot is the least of its assets. Boles is a Texas Ranger in pursuit of a bandit known as El Kinkajou. In the course of the chase, he meets Daniels, and they fall for each other. But the crook Boles is tailing may be Daniels' brother, Alvarado, which puts a strain on their

romance, and they separate. Daniels is soon being courted by Georges Renavent, a rat if ever there was one. Meanwhile, Wheeler wants out of his marriage and seeks the counsel of shyster lawyer Woolsey. In the end, Renavent is unmasked as the criminal, thereby paving the way for Daniels and Boles

to be united. Admittedly, this unusually long film doesn't offer much of a story, but the comedy (by Wheeler and Woolsey) is good, the acting is excellent, and the dances are sensational. The material was transferred almost totally from stage to screen with very little alteration, and audiences

loved it. Shooting the film in two processes was a mistake, however; since color was available, it would have been better used throughout. The well-integrated musical numbers include: "Rio Rita," "The Ranger Song," "Sweetheart, We Need Each Other," "If You're in Love, You'll Waltz," "You're Always

in My Arms (But Only in My Dreams)," "The Kinkajou," "Following the Sun Around" (Joseph McCarthy, Harry Tierney), and "Long Before You Came Along" (E.Y. Harburg, Harold Arlen). The film was remade in 1942 with Kathryn Grayson as Rita, John Carroll as the Ranger, and Abbott and Costello adding

comic relief. The later version had Nazis and intrigue to fill out the plot, and was quite different, retaining only the title and a few other bits.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This adaptation of Florenz Ziegfeld's 1927 stage hit was the film debut of the comedy team Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, who had starred in the play. They repeated their success in this half-color, half-black-and-white movie that grossed a fortune at th… (more)

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