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Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business (1995)

A biography of the Portuguese-Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda, whose most distinctive feature was her tutti frutti hat. She came to the US as the "Brazilian Bombshell" and was a Broadway ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Cynthia Adler ... Hedda Hopper
Eric Barreto ... Carmen Miranda, Fantasy Sequences
Mario Cunha ... Himself
... Herself
... Herself
... Herself (archive footage)
Leticia Monte ... Carmen Miranda, teenager
... Herself
... Himself
Synval Silva ... Himself
Helena Solberg ... Narrator
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Storyline

A biography of the Portuguese-Brazilian singer Carmen Miranda, whose most distinctive feature was her tutti frutti hat. She came to the US as the "Brazilian Bombshell" and was a Broadway and Hollywood star in the 1940s. Written by Will Gilbert

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13 April 1995 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Bananas Is My Business  »

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Did You Know?

Connections

Features The Gang's All Here (1943) See more »

Soundtracks

Chica Chica Boom Chic
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Carmen Miranda
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User Reviews

 
A Wax Banana
14 December 1998 | by See all my reviews

As a lover of Brazilian culture, I was rather disappointed by the film, which turns out to be a rather conventional 90's showbiz bio.

Yes, Carmen was exploited and broken behind that headdress. The film did a good job of bringing out the pathos - but

that's hardly a surprise.

The problem is, having done that, it didn't go any further in showing us the real woman behind the mask. The film projects her as nothing but a helpless victim of Hollywood, when her early life clearly indicated a strong and wily character. She must have put up a few fights - both internally and out there - and _this_ is the fascinating stuff. Remember that she was financially independent and emotionally not alone. Although in exile, she was always surrounded by family and, quite often, other Brazilian expatriate friends (among them one of the fathers of Bossa Nova, Vinicius --). She had choices. She didn't have to end that way and yet she did -- chose to marry an American brute and chose to leave Brazil again, right out of convalescence. This is the true mystery, and this film brings us no closer.

In the other direction, the film also failed to place Carmen in context of the development of Brazilian music. Was she a true artist, or merely a star - co-opting music of the poor for the consumption of a more respectable audience? And what is her true legacy as Brazil's "cultural ambassador"? Brazil may have rejected her, but it has never forgotten or ignored her (the funeral scene proved that). Yet once again we

had no idea what Carmen means to an average Brazilian today.

Watching this film, I kept getting reminded of Edith Piaf. Like her, Carmen's life has enough paradoxes for two or three movies. Regrettably, we are given less than one.


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