“Flying Down To Rio” – Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
Flying Down To Rio (RKO Pictures 1933) is known as the movie that made Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers into the renowned dance team duo they are still known as today. Astaire and Rogers were not the main headliners of Flying Down To Rio though. They were billed as fourth and fifth stars behind Dolores Del Rio, Gene Raymond, and Paul Roulien. It was also the only time Ginger was billed in front of Fred as this was her twentieth movie and was only Fred’s second. The movie was originally made as a vehicle to highlight Dolores Del Rio. The story is about a love triangle between the exotic Belinha de Rezende (Dolores Del Rio), and best friends Roger Bond (Gene Raymond) and Julio Ribiero (Paul Roulien). Of course Del Rio is her beautiful dazzling self and the sets are spectacular. A sequence towards the end of the movie where show girls are strapped to the wings of bi-planes as part of a arial show and flown over Rio de Janeiro in an opening sequence of a show to celebrate the opening of a hotel owned by Belihna de Rezende’s father is rather ‘surreal’ but entertaining. But it was Rogers and Astaire in their “secondary roles” as Honey Hale and Fred Ayers who easily were the best the movie had to offer. One of the more humorous scenes was when Astaire’s character Ayers is thrown out of a restaurant and he and Honey (Rogers) wind up sitting on the curb with an amused crowd of people gathered around them. Even the last scene of the movie is of Ayers and Honey Hale sitting side by side talking. Their chemistry and charisma as a couple were evident throughout the movie, but it was when they danced the erotic “Carioca” together that the beginning of the legendary dance team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers was born.
Fred and Ginger do the “Carioca”
The exotic “Carioca” became a national dance craze in the United States after the release of Flying Down To Rio. It was noted for the head to head posture and the closeness of the participants while dancing. As Fred and Ginger commented as they watched the native Brazilians dance, before trying it themselves.
Honey Hale (Rogers): “What’s this business with the forehead?”
Fred Ayers (Astaire): “Mental telepathy.”
Honey Hale: “I can tell what they’re thinking about from here.”
The dance team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers almost never was, at least in this movie. Dorothy Jordan was originally cast in the role of Honey Hale. When she fell in love and eloped with the show’s producer, Merian C Cooper, Rogers was brought in to take her place. The rest is history.
Flying Down To Rio was a pre-code ‘talkie’ and is notable for a line spoken by an American starlet about her South American rivals, “What have those girls got below the equator that we haven’t got?” After the Hayes-code went into effect in the early 1930’s, it would be a long time before such a suggestive line would be heard in a movie again.