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Chanchada (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʃɐ̃ˈʃadɐ]) is the name of a genre of Brazilian comedies, often musical. Its name (given by journalists and film critics of the 1930s), coming from the Paraguayan Spanish slang and meaning "filth", "mess", "trash", "trick", implied the ease in accessibility of these films' content to a culturally deprived audience.
In 1935, the company Cinédia of Rio de Janeiro started the period of chanchadas with Alô, Alô Brasil!. The early chanchadas were often seen emulating the Hollywood musicals of the era. Most presented stars of contemporary music like Carmen Miranda, Francisco Alves, and Orlando Silva. It was the company Atlântida of Rio that would elaborate and perfect the conventions of chanchada. Atlântida was founded in 1941 by a group of intellectuals to produce high quality films but with commercial restraints, they started to produce chanchadas. The film Carnaval no fogo (1949) by Watson Macedo established the main scheme for chanchadas: a loving couple, jeopardising gangsters, a friendly and comic duo, and promotion of "carnival music". However, the actors that brought chanchadas the ultimate success were not male and female idols (Anselmo Duarte, Cyll Farney, Eliana, Dercy Gonçalves) but the comic sidekicks (the duo Oscarito and Grande Otelo, Zé Trindade, Ankito, Costinha) and villains (José Lewgoy, Wilson Grey). The music featuring famous samba-canção stars like Ângela Maria, Nélson Gonçalves, Cauby Peixoto, and Emilinha Borba often functioned as a rupture in the plot rather than serving the continuity. The most prominent director of the genre was Carlos Manga who directed some most notable chanchadas like Nem Sansão, Nem Dalila (1952), Garotas e Samba (1957), and O Homem do Sputnik (1959).
Although most chanchadas adopted the conventions set by what became known as chanchada da Atlântida, "chanchada" later became an umbrella term to designate all comedy films with superficial content. By the end of 1950s and with the advent of Cinema Novo, chanchada became increasingly frowned upon and 1960s brought the end of chanchadas in popularity.
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