Rio Rita


Doc and Wishey run into some Nazi-agents, who want to smuggle bombs into the USA from a Mexican border hotel.

ACTORS  :   Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Kathryn Grayson


POSTAGE  :  Free postage within Australia

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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

RIO RITA (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1942), directed by S. Sylvan Simon, stars those two funny guys from Universal making their MGM debut, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, in a rare case where the movie for which they are appearing is lifted from a Broadway show rather than than the use of an original screenplay. Based on a Florenz Ziegfeld 1927 musical-comedy by Guy Bolton and Fred Thompson, later adapted to a large-scale 136 minute part color motion picture for RKO Radio (1929) featuring Bebe Daniels, John Boles, and the comic antics by Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, this latest edition, which might have been something for MGM’s resident comics, Red Skelton and Rags Ragland, to MGM’s credit, acquires the services of Abbott and Costello while the titled character, played by Kathryn Grayson, is one of secondary importance.
Abbott and Costello Meet Kathryn Grayson
Abbott & Costello’s three MGM films (RIO RITA, LOST IN A HAREM and ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN Hollywood) are slicker, more polished and slightly more sophisticated in tone than their Universal series begun with BUCK PRIVATES. They also lack the brash energy that makes those films so enduring in entertainment value.

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.


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