Copacabana(May/47)stars the irrepressible Groucho Marx and the beautiful and talented Carmen Miranda.This movie was a first of sorts for both of them.It was Groucho's first film foray since his split with his brothers and this was Carmen's first strut before the cameras since leaving 20th Century Fox.If it wasn't for the talents of these two the film would be completely forgettable.
The story here involves a "talent agent" Lionel Deveraux(Marx) whose sole client is Carmen(Miranda).Desperate for a job for Carmen he goes to the Copacabana club,owned and run by Mr.Cochran(Steve Hunt)with his faithful secretary by his side Anne Stuart(Gloria Jean).He manages to weasel a quick audition for Carmen which seems to go well.However Cochran is not quite satisfied ,as he had more of a singing chanteuse in mind.After a quick change(she has her face partially covered with a veil) Carmen comes back as Mademoiselle Fifi and wows Cochran with a number in French.He tells Devereaux he will take BOTH the girls,which leaves Carmen and her agent trying to figure how to accomplish it without getting caught.As Carmen only has to travel from one floor of the Copa to the next all goes well until Devereaux crazily sells Fifi's contract to a competing agent for $5,000.Trouble is the new agent is going to get Carmen about $100,000 for starring in movies in Hollywood! Devereaux finds out and wants to get his client back but when that doesn't work he comes up with a scheme to get rid of Fifi.This also back fires as the police get involved and Devereaux is now a suspect in Fifi's murder.In the end Carmen and Devereaux fess up and they along with Cochran and his secretary live happily ever after.
The plot here is so threadbare and mundane that if it wasn't for the talents of Marx and Miranda it would be a total wipeout.Marx here is certainly entertaining but he always appears a little antsy and not quite comfortable with his role throughout the film.Though there are a few cute moments,in general the gags and jokes are just not what one would expect from him.However in his defense Groucho was working from a script which was weak to begin with.The glue that really holds this picture together is Carmen Miranda and she actually amazes me at times.She shows just how under appreciated a talent she was.Her acting is marvellous as she holds her own with everyone including a clowning Groucho and she sings not only in English and Portuguese but in French;and beautifully!Her first number is the famous "Tico,Tico" then she does her French number "Je Vous Amour".Her final number is at the end as she sings "Let's Go to the Copacabana".
Groucho even gets in on the singing routine with "Go West Young Man" surrounded by a bevy of beauties from the actual Copacabana club in NYC,who are seen throughout the film.In fact they open the film with a completely lifeless and forgettable "Hollywood Bound" number. Popular singer of the mid to late 40s Andy Russell(a Capitol recording artist of the day)is on hand and does well with the four main numbers he sings.He also does a nice turn with Carmen singing "He hasn't got a thing to Sell".
Technically the film has been transferred well.In fact this print is very good to excellent throughout.It is generally very crisp and clear.The DVD however has no extras of any kind to speak of.
As a trivial aside,you might have noticed,or will notice when you watch the film,that an assistant to the producer is one David Sebastian.David was the producer's brother in law and David was given the task of sussing out Carmen before production began because of rumours she was temperamental and hard to work with.Of course nothing could have been farther from the truth and in fact as circumstances would have it,David and Carmen married before the picture finished shooting! And as a tie in for the NYC premiere of the movie,Carmen appeared at the real Copacabana before its' release singing songs from the movie and performing for appreciative crowds.It certainly boosted attendance and improved what otherwise would have been even more lackluster reviews.
Certainly not a bad movie but far from great.The plot is thin and the gags weak and don't expect Marx to be up to the level he was at with his brothers.Carmen shines throughout and is the glue that holds this entire "model" together.Miranda fans will want to get this DVD for that alone,if for nothing else.