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‘That Night In Rio,’ Hollywood, Romance, and Carmen Miranda

‘That Night In Rio,’ Hollywood, Romance, and Carmen Miranda

That Night In RioThat Night In Rio Poster

Directed by Irving Cummings

Written by George Seaton, Bess Meredyth, and Hal Long

Starring Don Ameche, Alice Faye, and Carmen Miranda


USA, 91 min. 

Romance and harmless conflict run amuck in Irving Cummings’s That Night In Rio. The film follows American entertainer, Larry Martin (Don Ameche), as he impersonates his doppelganger, Baron Manuel Duarte. Once Manuel’s wife, Baroness Cecilia Duarte (Alice Faye) discovers the impersonation, she begins to want her husband to be as loving as the one portrayed by Larry. That Night In Rio also features several song and dance numbers from Carmen Miranda, at the time deemed “The Brazilian Bombshell.”

That Night In Rio is part of Twentieth Century Fox’s musicals set in Latin countries (like another Miranda film, Down Argentine Way). Like other Latin lover musicals of the era, That Night In Rio has a stereotypical depiction of Latin culture. This time this stock depiction is of Brazilians. Carmen Miranda’s stylized, neurotic performance as Larry Martin’s jealous girlfriend shows this. Carmen can go from love to hate in the span of thirty seconds, scolding him in Portuguese and throwing objects at Martin’s head. Yet, he loves this about her.

That Night In Rio Carmen

Ironically, much of the comedy comes from the squabbles of two different couples in the film. Cecilia tries to make her lothario husband jealous to win back his heart and Carmen tries to make Larry jealous with the Baron. The humor also comes from the fact that the Baron and Larry look almost identical, so both women seem to be vying for the same man at different points in the film.

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 That Night In Rio Baron Carmen

While That Night In Rio Hollywoodizes Rio culture, the simple love triangles and Carmen Miranda’s flashy samba numbers (“Chica Chica Bom Chic”) give the film an enjoyable 1940s flare.