Nan Spencer is on a boat bound for Havana which runs aground. The man sent to rescue her is engaged and she doesn't understand his disinterest. Gambler is interested, to the annoyance of his girlfriend.
Glamorous Lorry Jones, the toast of a Missouri military canteen, has become "engaged" to almost every serviceman she's signed her pin-up photo for. Now she's leaving home to go into ... See full summary »
Songwriters Calhoun and Harrigan get Katie and Lily Blane to introduce a new one. Lily goes to England, and Katy joins her after the boys give a new song to Nora Bayes. All are reunited ... See full summary »
Broadway partners Vicky Lane and Dan Christy have a tiff over Christy's womanizing. Jealous Vicky takes up with her old flame and former dance partner, Victor Price, and Dan's career takes ... See full summary »
The part of Ricardo Quintana was intended for Desi Arnaz following his stage success in Rodgers and Hart's "Too Many Girls," but Arnaz was already committed to RKO's film version of that musical, which was shooting simultaneously. As a result, Fox stalwart Don Ameche was cast in Down Argentine Way (1940). See more »
Although Edward Fielding is listed in the credits as having portrayed Glenda Crawford's father, Willis Crawford, he is only seen at the Tuxedo Horse Show near the start of the film. He has no other scenes. See more »
The colour and music captivates. The romance? Not quite so much
'Down Argentine Way' is notable for being the American debut of Carmen Miranda and the film that made Betty Grable a star. This said, while the casting seemed unlikely initially (for example Alice Faye was intended for the character played by Betty Grable), they mostly come off well and 'Down Argentine Way' manages to entertain enormously.
Sure, while there is so much to enjoy for many it is also to see why others won't connect with it. One says that one shouldn't see a musical for its story, which in a way can be seen as true seeing as even in the classic musicals the story tended to be not as good as the rest of the respective films. Here though the story is thin on the ground, feeling stretched and has its implausible stretches.
The romance between Don Ameche and Betty Grable has many moments of endearing charm, but that Grable replaced an indisposed Alice Faye due to illness makes the chemistry not quite as natural as it could have been. This may have been that Ameche and Faye had worked together a few times before and Grable was in her film debut, so didn't know Ameche as well.
Harry Stephenson on paper couldn't have been a more unlikely and dubious choice for his role and in the final product is for me quite badly miscast. He is not being remotely believable as a Argentinian, which did to me took away hugely from the rest of his performance, with an accent that is phoney at best and comes and goes quicker than one can down a can of fizzy drinks.
On the other hand, 'Down Argentine Way' looks great, with gorgeous use of colour and lavish production design. The songs are lively and infectious, no standards but it's the quality of the music itself and the way it's used that matters more and 'Down Argentine Way' succeeds in those areas.
'Down Argentine Way's' script crackles with wit, energy and charm and the film is rarely dull due to so much being so good. Ameche is as ever suave and charming and Grable's beguiling performance deservedly made her a star.
With the exception of Stephenson the supporting cast work very well. Miranda is not in the film much and her scenes don't necessarily add much to the story and narratively may feel like padding, but she is absolute dynamite in her American debut and her two songs are two of the film's most catchy. J. Carroll Naish is amusing, the Nicholas Brothers dazzle with their athletic dancing and Leonid Kinsky succeeds in making buffoonery not annoying, but the best supporting turn comes from a note-perfect Charlotte Greenwood.
In summary, not great but hugely entertaining, foibles and all. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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