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While the longer roadshow version of RIO RITA is still considered lost, two musical numbers that do not appear in the surviving 105 minute version showed up on YouTube. "The Kinkajou" and a Technicolor pirate ship dance number are both available online, but have not been restored back into the film. See more »
One of the Texas Rangers can be clearly seen wearing a large band-aid over his left eye. See more »
Based on the 1927 operetta produced on Broadway by the legendary Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., RIO RITA has a plot that is nonsensical to the modern audience, and songs that will not attract the modern audience, or even the older audience that enjoys Broadway or old movie musicals. It is, to the modern eye an absolute antique. I had a great time.
I enjoyed it because the title role is taken by Bebe Daniels. She had just lost her long-term contract with Paramount because she had no voice. Apparently they hadn't even bothered giving her a test; it was part of a general purging of second-rank stars with expensive contracts that took place at this time. Why pay several thousand dollars a week for Daniels when you could hire her replacement from Broadway for $200? That was good business sense as dictated by the banks which were paying for the wiring of studios and theaters. However, they forgot there's nothing so cheap as a hit, and this was a hit.
The only cast members brought from the Broadway production were the lead comics, Wheeler & Woolsey. Both of them were seasoned performers, put together for the stage production, and their crosstalk routines made them movie stars.
The rest of it involves various unlikely plot devices, with John Boles (borrowed from Universal) as a singing Texas Ranger searching for a bandit called the Kinkajou (who seems to be Miss Daniels' brother) and romancing Bebe; Wheeler as a lawyer robbing Woolsey, who has just gotten married to Dorothy Lee, an an immense set based on the stage production.
Broadway and the movies and acting have changed enormously in the 90 years since this was made, and so this is more of a museum piece than a living, breathing piece of cinema. That's something else I like it for.
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