That Night in Rio

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That Night in Rio
That Night in Rio.jpg
Directed by Irving Cummings
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Written by Rudolph Lothar (play)
Hans Adler (play)
Screenplay by George Seaton
Bess Meredyth
Hal Long
Samuel Hoffenstein
Jessie Ernst
Based on The Red Cat (play)
Starring Don Ameche
Alice Faye
Carmen Miranda
Music by Mack Gordon
Harry Warren
Cinematography Ray Rennahan
Leon Shamroy
Edited by Walter Thompson
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • April 11, 1941 (1941-04-11)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English

That Night in Rio is a 1941 Technicolor American musical comedy film directed by Irving Cummings and starring Alice Faye, Don Ameche and Carmen Miranda (in a dual role as an American entertainer and an aristocratic businessman he is asked to impersonate temporarily). It is one of several film adaptations of a play called The Red Cat by Rudolf Lothar and Hans Adler. Others are Folies Bergère de Paris (1935) and On the Riviera (1951).

The original songs for the film were written by the musical partnership of Harry Warren and Mack Gordon. These include: "Boa Noite", "They Met in Rio (A Midnight Serenade)", "Chica Chica Boom Chic" and "I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much)".


Larry Martin (Don Ameche) is an American entertainer in the Casino Samba in Rio de Janeiro. He has a skit in his show, making fun of the womanizing Baron Manuel Duarte (also Ameche). On one particular evening, the Baron and his wife, Baroness Cecilia Duarte (Alice Faye) come to see Larry's impersonation. To the surprise of the couple, the act is amazingly realistic. Backstage, the Baron meets Larry's girlfriend, Carmen (Carmen Miranda), and invites her to a party he is going to hold. Carmen declines.

Later in the evening, Larry meets Cecilia and is attracted to her singing and her beauty. He does an impersonation of the Baron for her. But the real Baron receives a telegram that his airline is in danger because a contract is not being renewed and he has already purchased 51% of the stock. Needing money to repay the bank he borrowed it from, he flies down to Buenos Aires.

Larry is hired to play the Baron to confuse his rival, Machado (J. Carrol Naish), but at the stock market, he buys the remainder of the airline stock. That evening, at the party, Larry is hired again to play the Baron. He does not want the Baroness to know, but Cecilia is informed without his knowing. He sweeps her off her feet and they stay close to each other for the remainder of the evening.

Meanwhile, Carmen is furious to discover that Larry is at the party and decides to go there as well, where she discovers that he is impersonating the Baron. To make matter worse, the real Baron returns to his house, confusing all involved. Machado corners Larry instead and talks to him in French, which Larry can't understand. After the party, the Baron discovers that Cecilia was flirting with Larry for the evening and tries to play the joke on her. She, however, inadvertently turns the tables on him.

To get back at his wife, the next morning, the Baron calls and tells Cecilia that his plane has just landed. Cecilia is scared that she has been unfaithful to Manuel but Larry later tells her the truth. At the office, Machado gives the Baron a payment of $32 million for his airline, the topic of his conversation with Larry. The Baron heads home but Cecilia tries one more time to get back at him by pretending to make violent love to Larry. It turns out to be the Baron and all is soon resolved in the end.


Carmen Miranda and Don Ameche in scene in the film.


Alice Faye, Don Ameche, and Carmen Miranda in That Night in Rio.

The working titles of this film were A Latin from Manhattan, Rings on Her Fingers, They Met in Rio and The Road to Rio. A November 15, 1940 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Twentieth Century-Fox had to change the title from The Road to Rio because of a conflict with Paramount, which wanted them not to release their picture until six months after the release of Paramount's Road to Zanzibar in order to avoid any confusion over the similar titles. This film marked the sixth and final pairing of Faye and Don Ameche, and the first film in which Carmen Miranda played a character with a name other than her own. According to modern sources, Faye and Ameche recorded and filmed the song "Chica, Chica, Boom Chic" as a dance number, but only the sequence of Miranda and Ameche singing the song is in the released picture.

According to a November 12, 1940 letter to Joseph Breen from Zanuck, the script was submitted to the Brazilian Ambassador in Washington, D.C., who approved it and stated that it would be "the kind of picture that will be helpful to North and South American relations." A report in the MPAA/PCA filed noted that the picture was rejected for distribution in Ireland, although no reason was given.[2]


  • Chica Chica Boom Chic — Don Ameche and Carmen Miranda
  • The Baron Is in Conference — Mary Ann Hyde, Vivian Mason, Barbara Lynn, Jean O'Donnell
  • The Conference — Don Ameche
  • They Met in Rio (A Midnight Serenade) - Don Ameche (in Portuguese) and Alice Faye (in English)
  • Cai Cai — Carmen Miranda
  • I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much) — Carmen Miranda
  • Boa Noite (Good-Night) — Don Ameche, Alice Faye and Carmen Miranda[3]


Trailer That Night in Rio (1941).jpg

The film was released in theaters on April 11, 1941. The reviewer for Variety wrote that “[Don] Ameche is very capable in a dual role, and Miss [Alice] Faye is eye-appealing but it’s the tempestuous Miranda who really gets away to a flying start from the first sequence.”[4] The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner described Miranda as “outfitted in smart, barbaric colors, waving articulate hips and rollicking through the most fun of her Hollywood career.”[5]

The Washington Evening Star in its review of That Night in Rio commented: "Torrid Carmen Miranda brightens new musical." The Hollywood Reporter said of this same film, "[Miranda’s] performance in English is . . . vivid, fiery and tempestuous."[6] The Sydney Daily Mirror, said that "Apparently exotic Carmen Miranda's lips are as fascinating as her hands."[7]

In his review of the film, The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote: "In spite of its hot Latin rhythms and the presence of Carmen Miranda in the cast, That Night in Rio departs but little from the stock musical comedy formula, which inevitably sacrifices originality (...) In fact, the only departure of even slightly revolutionary degree is the employment of Don Ameche in dual roles, instead of his customary single one—and that, in the eyes of some people (including ourself), is hardly a step in the right direction".[8]

In a much later review for the Chicago Reader newspaper, Dave Kehr wrote: "Shrieking Technicolor and Carmen Miranda are the main attractions in this routine Fox musical from 1941."[9]


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