Fred and Ginger Takeoff in Rio
"Flying Down to Rio" is a movie about band leader Roger Bond falling for Brazilian beauty Belinha de Rezende and doing whatever he can to woo her. But that is not what you remember the movie for because "Flying Down to Rio" was the first movie Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appeared in together and whilst in supporting roles steal every scene they appear in be it when they dance together or when they are on their own. It doesn't mean that the actual romantic comedy of Roger pursuing Belinha is bad; in fact it is quite amusing it's just that watching Fred & Ginger perform is simply on another level and it is what you remember "Flying Down to Rio" for.
Band leader Roger Bond (Gene Raymond) has an eye for the ladies a trait which constantly gets him and his band "The Yankee Clippers" in trouble and usually out of work. When he starts flirting with Brazilian beauty Belinha de Rezende (Dolores del Rio - Cheyenne Autumn) it doesn't take long for the band to lose the gig in a Miami hotel but as luck has it Roger manages to find another gig for them down in Rio. And even luckier for Roger he discovers that Belinha is also heading home to Rio and manages to coerce her into flying with him in his 2 man plane, where following an engine problem he makes his move on her. But despite Belinha being interested in Roger there is a problem, she is engaged to marry Julio (Raul Roulien) back in Rio and must chose between them whilst also helping her father save his hotel from a trio of crooked business men.
The actual storyline to "Flying Down to Rio" is a simple one which sees Roger Bond falling for Brazilian beauty Belinha and doing what ever he can to woo her despite various obstacles which include the fact that she is already engaged. We watch as he gets his band sacked when he dances with her and then tricks her protective aunt into letting him fly her down to Rio only to end up landing on a beach when they have plane trouble. But you get a feeling that "Flying Down to Rio" was never really about this story which somehow manages to bring in a subplot about Roger and his band helping to stop a trio of corrupt businessmen from taking Rio's father's hotel but more as a vehicle for all the musical comedy.
Now as a musical comedy "Flying Down to Rio" definitely works be it the wonderful comedy and face pulling of Fred Astaire as he puts up with Roger's wandering eye or through to Ginger Rogers playing sassy singer Honey Hale. It just brings a huge smile to your face although it is very simple and whilst the final scenes are seriously outrageous they are just as much fun as we have people performing on top of flying planes, scenes which have to be seen to be believed. But it is really watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers perform together which really lifts things and makes "Flying Down to Rio" memorable. Watching them dance to "The Carioca" is simply fantastic and whilst later on you have Fred Astaire giving one of his amazing solo dance routines it is the way they spark off each other which grabs you, especially when you think that "Flying Down to Rio" was their first movie together.
Funnily it is Fred and Ginger who also deliver the more interesting characters despite being in supporting roles. Watching Fred deliver the comedy of being the almost put upon Fred Ayres is just wonderful and Ginger has this real sassiness which comes across as singer Honey. It means than in the scenes which they share with either Gene Raymond who plays Roger Bond or Dolores del Rio who plays Belinha de Rezende they are the ones you can't keep your eyes off of. Not that Raymond and del Rio do bad jobs of playing their characters and Raymond is wonderfully funny in his endeavours to woo Belinha but their characters almost feel boring.
Aside from the musical comedy what is also quite memorable is the picture postcard styling with transitional scenes which make the movie almost seem to flow at one. This maybe a movie which was made long before many of us were ever born but the simple effects used for going from one scene to another work quite well. And whilst the showpiece finale with dancers on plane wings now is comical for being false the real footage of dancers on planes is quite spectacular especially the over head shots.
What this all boils down to is that "Flying Down to Rio" maybe a movie which was made over three quarters of a century ago still works surprisingly well. The simple storyline of a band leader trying to woo a Brazilian beauty works as the perfect vehicle for plenty of musical comedy and there are plenty of scenes which will bring a smile to your face. But in reality it is because "Flying Down to Rio" was the first time that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appeared together in a movie which makes it memorable and whilst they may have been in supporting roles they steal every single scene which they appear in especially when they dance "The Carioca" together.