After being fired from their jobs as clerks in a pet store, Doc and Wishey, a couple of bumpkins, hide in the trunk of a car that they think will take them to New York. Somehow, however, they end up in Texas where they help to facilitate the romance of a popular Latin singer and the owner of a resort hotel while exposing a gang of Fifth-Columnists.
Two Guys in Texas
Even so, one personally finds RIO RITA to be one of the better movies the classic comedy team were associated with. It must, however, be approached with the understanding that it is a Musical with comedy rather than the other way around.
RIO RITA is an updated, entirely re-written version of Florenz Ziegfeld’s comic operetta, previously filmed in 1929 with star comics Wheeler and Woolsey repeating their roles from the Broadway blockbuster.
Bud and Lou receive first billing due to their great popularity, but the new production is a primarily a vehicle for pretty young soprano Kathryn Grayson (ANCHORS AWEIGH, SHOW BOAT, KISS ME KATE!) who was then being groomed for MGM stardom as an answer to Universal’s Deanna Durbin. Hence the focus is on Grayson who performs several good songs (including two from the original show) and an operatic aria which displays her formidable vocal ability.
Even more than A&C’s other early movies, comedy takes rather a back seat to music and romance. Even the dated dramatic situation involving Nazis infiltrating a Western ranch, original to this version, is secondary to the charms of the leading lady.
RIO RITA is, not unlike Abbott and Costello’s introductory Musical Comedy film ONE NIGHT IN THE TROPICS, a matter of taste. Fortunately, it is a taste that can be acquired. Personally, one loves Musicals, is fond of Kathryn Grayson and is an admirer of Abbott & Costello; therefore one was thoroughly primed to enjoy this. The movie is recommended to all fans of the comedy team, but some may need several viewings, music and all, to come to terms with it.