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Rio 40 Graus (1955)

A semi-documentary on the people of Rio de Janeiro. The camera follows boys from a hillside shanty town who sell peanuts at Copacabana, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and a soccer game. Various ... See full summary »


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Credited cast:
Modesto De Souza ... The landowner
Roberto Bataglin ... Pedro
Jece Valadão ... Miro
Ana Beatriz ... Maria Helena
Glauce Rocha ... Rosa
Claudia Morena ... Alice
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sofia Alcalai
Alvaiade ... Himself
Haroldo Alves
Jesebel Alves
Nilton Apolinário
José Carlos Araújo
Riva Blanche
Jorge Brandão
... Old man at the Sugar Loaf (as Sady Cabral)


A semi-documentary on the people of Rio de Janeiro. The camera follows boys from a hillside shanty town who sell peanuts at Copacabana, Sugar Loaf Mountain, and a soccer game. Various subplots, involving characters they meet along the way, are interspersed. Written by Will Gilbert

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Release Date:

26 August 1955 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Rio, 40 Degrees  »

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Referenced in City of God (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

Wonderful Latin sensibility
18 July 2014 | by See all my reviews

This is pretty exciting stuff. Historically important perhaps, but I'll let the scholar take that up and dust it. I'm interested in how the cinematic eye is tethered to a world, how space reveals soul, what we call soul. This is Brazilian, it aims to capture ordinary life, ordinary people going about their routine around Rio, the routine unmediated by the camera and presented to us 'as it is', unvarnished.

The ripples of the Italian realist school can be felt, and as with those films the artifice now of course shows. I can tell that it's acted and scripted, that it all ebbs towards story and climax. That most characters are stereotype insertions: the favela orphan, the Copacabana playboy, the lecherous politician that everyone fawns over for a favor.

But through the artifice a fundamental perception of things shows. The characters for one must be rooted in real life, they are ways to approach ranges of life. The story is so we can have dilemmas that plagued Brazilians then: marriage, money, status, well-being. This is one reason to see this, snapshot of a society.

A more exciting reason to visit is how the film takes us through that perception, how the specific issues are approached, in what narrative light, this light being what we could call soul.

The film is threaded around and follows many characters over a single day in Rio with the temperature bringing passions to a boil. It quickly jumps from one life to the one next to it, never bogged down. It moves and dances about without undue suffering. Even when the subject is dire poverty, it keeps a generous spirit that recognizes it can wander from it without forgetting. There are difficulties galore, but somehow it works out like the football underdog scoring for his team in the last minute; movie artifice but in context of this it springs naturally.

Watch this if you can find it, watch it like you would Altman. It will take you through the Copacabana on a scorching morning, take you on a cable car to the statue of Christ, the Maracana in the middle of a packed derby, a favela where there's sickness and poverty. But it will quickly urge you on, life is dance, it is moving on through the day.

It ends in a marvelous way with the two rivals for the affections of a girl meeting at night in the middle of a samba rehearsal for the next Carnival. We expect drama, death. It turns out they know each other, they embrace, laughing it off. Samba music sweeps us up into the night where a lone mother watches from a window.

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