Capt. James Stewart pursues the bandit "The Kinkajou" over the Mexican border and falls in love with Rita. He suspects, that her brother is the bandit.Capt. James Stewart pursues the bandit "The Kinkajou" over the Mexican border and falls in love with Rita. He suspects, that her brother is the bandit.Capt. James Stewart pursues the bandit "The Kinkajou" over the Mexican border and falls in love with Rita. He suspects, that her brother is the bandit.
The guy who made the best musicals back in those days was Florenz Ziegfeld. One of his best was the operetta Rio Rita which ran for 494 performances in 1927-1928. Since the setting was the west, to be exact the Texas-Mexican border, we essentially get the screen's first musical western.
Rio Rita was the newly formed RKO Studios big budget film for 1929 and it starred John Boles and Bebe Daniels and Rio Rita was her talking picture debut. She surprised the world with a really nice soprano voice doing those Harry Tierney-Joseph McCarthy songs. Boles was one film's earliest singers and he does the famous Ranger song with gusto in the best Nelson Eddy manner. The other big song from the score was the title song that is sung as a duet with Boles and Daniels. Bebe's best solo number is an item that Tierney and McCarthy wrote specifically for the screen, You're Always In My Arms.
Repeating their roles from the stage show are the comedy team of Wheeler and Woolsey who also make their screen debut as well. The team itself was a creation of Florenz Ziegfeld and he used them in one of his Ziegfeld Follies editions. They're involved in a subplot about playboy Wheeler getting a Mexican divorce and getting into the clutches of a shyster attorney in Woolsey.
I could see that both of them were individual performers because Bert Wheeler gets himself a fine song and dance number in Out On The Loose. He was quite the dancer, something we rarely saw in his comedy films with Robert Woolsey. Still it was as a team that they have come down to us.
The main plot involved Texas Ranger captain John Boles going across the border to ferret out and apprehend a bandit called El Kinkajou and finding romance with Bebe Daniels. Like the first version of Rose Marie though his main suspect is her brother and Texas Rangers like Canadian Mounties put duty first.
The film is a photographed stage musical essentially, just like the first two Marx Brothers films, The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers. But the opulence of a Ziegfeld Show is preserved and that is the main reason to see Rio Rita. The last half hour is in color and we can thank the Deity that was preserved.
So for film historians and those who want a glimpse at the showmanship of Florenz Ziegfeld, don't miss Rio Rita when broadcast.
- Oct 1, 2008