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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
"You have to be careful with banks these days. A lot of my checks have been coming back recently."
DVD ReviewLong before it was made notorious by the Barry Manilow song (and let's not even think about the Barry Manilow movie), the Copacabana night club was a hot spot on the east coast. With the opportunity for copious musical numbers and a showbiz theme, the setting is a natural for a musical comedy. I'm not entirely sure it's the natural setting for this musical comedy, but here we are.
Lionel Q. Devereaux (Groucho Marx, without his brothers) and Carmen Navarro (Carmen Miranda) are an act that's going nowhere fast. Lionel decides that it will work better if he operates as Carmen's agent, and tries to get her booked in the Copa. Manager Steve Hunt (Steve Cochran) is unimpressed, and says he's really looking for a French chanteuse. Thinking fast, Devereaux recostumes Carmen, puts a veil on her face and sends her out front as Mlle. Fifi. Things get problematic, however, when Devereaux gets greedy and insists that Hunt also book Carmen. This creates serious problems when Hunt schedules both women at the same time on separate stages, leading to a comedy of errors.
Carmen Miranda's not exactly Margaret Dumont, but she plays well off Groucho (and vice versa). But she really shines in the dual role, bringing both of her characters to life vividly. That's all the more difficult with Mlle. Fifi, since most of her face is covered and she has to express everything with her eyes and her body. Her sultry chanteuse voice is incredible and makes it clear that she wasn't just the novelty act with fruit hats for which she's remembered today. Groucho is in good form with some decent material to work from. Groucho also gets to play a brief double role himself, as both Devereaux and his Marx Brothers persona, complete with shoe polish moustache.
The supporting cast (mostly consisting of various critics and singers playing themselves) is pedestrian at best. Cochran is dull, as is Gloria Jean as his long-suffering secretary secretly in love with him. For the most part the songs are completely forgettable, other than Groucho's big number Go West, Young Man (unlike the others, written by Sam Caslow, this tune is from the pens of Kalmar & Ruby). The production numbers are reasonably good for what is apparently a very low budget, but nothing spectacular.
Although not classic Marx material, this is a passable little comedy that is somewhat struggling to fill out its 91-minute running time.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+
Image Transfer Review: The original full-frame source print is in quite nice shape, with only occasional nicks spoiling the appearance. Black levels are rich and a nice greyscale is present. Some of the club scenes are a bit on the soft side, but closeups are detailed and look fine. The principal problem is Groucho's fine-patterned suit; it's a highly distracting mess of moires and shimmer much of the time, whether being seen in interlaced or progressive mode (though it is markedly better in progressive). This is highly annoying and constitutes the major defect of the transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Although the packaging and the menus describe the audio as Dolby Surround, don't be fooled. It's just 2.0 mono. There's zero surround activity. The track is fairly clean, with hiss and noise audible only at near-reference levels. There is an odd bit of distortion in some of the vocals, but the instrumental music throughout has excellent richness and depth. Dialogue is clear, even in Miranda's fractured English.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Extras Review: Other than decent chaptering, there's absolutely nothing in the way of extras here. Move along, nothing to see.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsAn okay musical comedy that really is a showcase for Carmen Miranda more than anything else, and she really turns in an admirable performance. Groucho is fun as always, but there's little else to recommend this picture.
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