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Film / Down Argentine Way

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Down Argentine Way (1940) is a 20th Century Fox Musical Comedy, starring Don Ameche, Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda, and Charlotte Greenwood.

Glenda Crawford (Grable) wants to buy Ricardo Quintana’s (Ameche) beautiful mare, Carmelita; however, a feud between their fathers doesn’t let Ricardo sell the mare to her even though both are smitten with each other. Disappointed, but deeply fascinated with Ricardo, Glenda goes to Buenos Aires, Argentina, with her Aunt Binnie (Greenwood), to look for a mare and see if she can find Ricardo and angrily tell him off.

Musical numbers and love ensues.

Features effervescent performances by Carmen Miranda (her first American film appearance) and the Nicholas Brothers. This was also the star-making role for Betty Grable who would spend the rest of the war years as the pin-up girl of choice for American GIs.

This film was not only a financial success, but also a piece of propaganda: President Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbour Policy” was currently in effect during World War II, trying to show Latin Americans in a good light to help avoid their Nazi affiliations. However, the film was disliked in Argentina for being more of a mesh of Afro-Caribbean and Mexican influences, rather than authentically Argentinian. However, the film still sparkles with beautiful cinematography and choreography.

In 2014, Down Argentine Way was chosen by the National Film Registry for preservation.

This film provides the following tropes:

  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Unsurprisingly, this occurs in the first half of the film with Glenda and Ricardo, but they solve this tension pretty quickly.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The ambassador does this when he’s rejected by Binnie for the more fun Tito.
  • Crowd Song: The last reprise of “Down Argentine Way”.
  • Dance of Romance: Ricardo and Glenda share a delightful rhumba together where they discuss business and slowly fall in love.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: A rare inversion: Don Diego Quintana hates the Crawfords and won’t allow his son to sell a horse, much less be with Glenda. That’s why Ricardo has to go behind his father's back and call Glenda “Ms. Cunningham”.
  • Feuding Families: The Quintanas and the Crawfords. Albeit, it’s for a rather silly reason.
  • Irrelevant Act Opener: The film starts with Carmen Miranda singing a song, "South American Way", which does little more than set the mood.
  • Latin Lover: Ricardo is all smooth and romantic with Glenda.
  • Love at First Sight: Ricardo and Glenda are interested right away.
  • Motor Mouth: When Carmen sings "Bambú, Bambú".
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Obviously, anything that Carmen wears is very elaborate, and even Glenda has her moments especially in her Latin-inspired dress.
  • Pretty in Mink: Glenda wears an ermine coat in Argentinian weather!
  • Serenade Your Lover: With a song called, "Two Dreams Meet".