Monday, October 12, 2009

Flying Down to Rio by Rosalie Schwartz

Months ago, a bid team from Rio de Janeiro reportedly showed a map to the Interational Olympic Committee marked with all the cities that have ever hosted the Olympics. The South American continent did not contain a single mark.

Now, millions of international tourists are expected to converge on the city during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. But, this will not be the first time Rio's enjoyed widespread exposure to the international community.

Trailer for Flying Down to Rio (1933)

In 1933, chorus girls danced on the wings of airplanes high above the heads of tourists at a resort hotel on Rio's Copacabana Beach. The spectacular ending scene from Flying Down to Rio planted the Brazilian city as a travel destination in the imaginations of moviegoers.

In her book, Flying Down to Rio: Hollywood, Tourists, and Yankee Clippers (2004), Rosalie Schwartz uses the film to examine how the globalization of aviation, movies, and mass tourism contributed to today's internationally connected, entertainment-oriented culture.

Flying Down to Rio (2004)

An excerpt:

"RKO-Radio Pictures sent its photographers to film background shots of Rio de Janeiro not long after Roosevelt's Pan American Day speech urged hemispheric neighborliness. Moreover, the studio released Flying Down to Rio the same month that the president offered transportation and tourism, instead of free trade, to Latin American delegates at Montevideo. During the course of Roosevelt's first year in ffice-concurrent with the planning, production, and release of Flying Down to Rio-the administration accepted travel as both an element of hemispheric relations and a factor in economic recovery.

The film, Flying Down to Rio, helped to spur the globalization of aviation, movies, and mass tourism.

Neither incidentally nor acidentally, good neighborliness infused the film's plot, characterizations, music, and choreography. RKO maintained a careful watch
on the entertainment market and on politics. When musical comedies attracted audiences, the studio filled the screen with evocative and appealing songs and dances. Brazil was a lively, friendly place to visit and airplanes a safe way to get there. One should not allow fears or inhibitions to limit opportunity, the film suggested, because risk takers both get the girl and solve problems."

Delores Del Rio and Gene Raymond find love in Flying Down to Rio.

For more on Brazil, pick up Lost Colony of the Confederates (1985, 2000), where Eugene Harter writes about the mass exodus of 20,000 Confederates to Brazil at the end of the Civil War.