Flying Down to Rio

Flying Down to Rio seems to have been greeted by amused critics, feigning bemusement when they had the film's number from the start: the classic, outrageous example of the screen as the crossroads of sexuality and thrill-seeking. “An airplane version of love overcoming all obstacles”; “One of those mad, wild bits of entertainment in which girls, music, the dance and speedy locomotion are joyously intermingled”; “In the picture, Gene Raymond conceived the idea of perching several chorus girls atop airplane wings. There in the sky, while hotel guests crane their necks, these girls, apparently oblivious to the weather, judging from their lack of clothes, perform various rhythmic gyrations, tap and adagio dances and trapeze acts. It's all very breath-taking and incomprehensible” (quotes from Film Circle notes).
It's a toss-up for who gets the philovat award for Flying Down to Rio: the dancers, next to whose exploits simple romance pales, or the filmmakers themselves. “There was now a free and almost mad spirit in the musicals that began to come forth from the studios (in 1933).... The pioneer spirit fairly leaps off the screen in Flying Down to Rio. The plot is little more than pretext.... (The film) reverberates with the romance of modern communications, it crackles with technological pride. You get the feeling that its makers are testing the medium with an almost abstract delight in its possibilities” (Croce, “The Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Book”). (J.B.)

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