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This was the first of a series of Latin American-themed movies that became very popular with American audiences in the 1940s. Darryl F. Zanuck produced the film in response to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Good Neighbor Policy" of friendship towards Latin American countries. Also, with the war in Europe starting, Zanuck hoped to develop Mexico and South America as alternative markets for his Hollywood films. However, while Down Argentine Way (1940) was a success in America, the Argentines hated it! When the film was screened in Buenos Aires, Argentine government officials refused to allow it to be shown in any theaters in their country. Among the things the Argentines objected to: (1) None of the Argentine characters in the film spoke with an Argentine Castilian Spanish accent. (2) Several Argentine characters are depicted as lazy, freeloading, or dishonest. (3) The three Argentine bankers who greet Betty Grable at the airport speak to her in fractured English, when most upper-class Argentines spoke perfect English. (4) Casiano, the horse groom played by J. Carrol Naish, wears a "gaucho" outfit ("gauchos" are Argentine cowboys, not horse ranchers). (5) Although Carmen Miranda was popular in Argentina, she was Brazilian and sang Cuban-inspired songs in Portuguese. Her presence in the movie gave the impression that Argentina is a tropical country, when it is a mountain country. 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 »
Although as of today I have reviewed more films on IMDb, very, very few of them have been musicals. It just happens to be a genre that I don't particularly like, though I am not saying they are bad movies--it just isn't my favorite type of film. Sure, I have a few exceptions, but by and large, I am NOT a musical fan. Because of this, that makes my giving DOWN ARGENTINE WAY very special indeed for me to give it an 8--almost a 9. There is just so much energy and so much to love with this film I couldn't help myself.
First, before jumping into the review, you've gotta admit that the casting in the film is very strange! If you read on IMDb about it, you will learn that some other actors (including some Hispanics) were originally scheduled to be in this production but odd things kept happening to force them to pick other actors. While much of the film is set in Argentina, Don Ameche and Henry Stephenson are cast as Argentinians!! While Ameche is able to do a credible accent and they very effectively dubbed someone else singing his songs in Spanish, Stephenson doesn't exactly look South American. Sure, there are plenty of light-skinned folks down there, but his accent came and went like the wind!! Often he forgot it entirely. Now some of the other actors did a better job, such as J. Carroll Naish--who always had a knack for playing almost any ethnicity. Russian-born Leonid Kinskey also did a credible job. Also, while she came by her accent quite naturally, why did they put a Brazilian (Carmen Miranda) in the film? Argentina is NOT the same as Brazil and the languages are very, very different. Now I am not complaining about her amazing singing--just how odd it was to see her in a movie set in a Hispanic nation.
As for the singing, I didn't mind the songs because some were especially nice. Carmen Miranda's two songs were catchy and cool (especially "Mamãe Eu Quero"), the Nicholas Brothers' dancing was amazing (though in one, they were singing in another language that I assume was dubbed) and the songs with Ameche and co-star Betty Grable were very nice as well.
The plot involves Don coming to America and almost selling a prize horse to Grable. However, when he learns that she is the daughter of a man who his own father hates, he calls off the deal and heads back home. He really wanted to sell it to her--after all, she's one hot tomato (that's "pretty" in 1940s lingo), but it's a point of honor and he must obey his father. However, Betty isn't to be ignored and travels to Argentina with her older and very hot-blooded aunt (who is awfully funny and does some amazing dancing at the end). Naturally, Betty and Don fall in love, but the father is still standing in their way to happiness. What ever will they do?! The film gets high marks for excellence all around. What I particularly liked is what Leonard Maltin described as the "picture postcard" look of the film. The Technicolor is wonderful and the set designers outdid themselves to introduce lots of great complementary colors (including a lot of pastels) to make the picture practically pop off the screen.
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