Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Latino Images in Film ~ Greenwich Village (1944)

Greenwich Village (1944) is a Technicolor musical featuring the iconic talent Carmen Miranda. Don Ameche plays Kenneth Harvey, a composer who has got "sucker" written all over him. He visits New York in hopes of interesting composer Kavosy in his concerto. Instead, he gets sidetracked by the cast of characters that inhabits a Greenwich Village speakeasy. First there is owner Danny O'Hare (played by the wonderful William Bendix) who sees Kenneth's money and talent as a major draw. Then there is dancer/singer/entertainer Princess Querida (Carmen Miranda) who is tickled pink by "Kennys". Finally there is Bonnie (Vivian Blaine), the speakeasy singer who is the only person not trying to pull one over on Kenneth. Kenneth and Bonnie begin to fall in love but things get complicated when Kenneth is swindled out of money and his concerto. What's a good-looking, talented and in love man to do?



I hadn't realized that Carmen Miranda was born in Portugal and raised in Brazil until I researched her after watching the film. Confession: I don't consider Portuguese or Brazilian people to be Latino/Hispanic. Second Confession: While I am 1/2 Dominican, I'm also 1/2 Portuguese. So while some would consider me 100% Latina, I only consider myself technically 50% (but at heart I'm that full 100%). For me, Latino culture is intrisincally tied in with the Spanish language.



With that said Carmen Miranda is simply charming in this film as the Portuguese Princess Querida whose wiggle hypnotizes, whose personality dazzles and whose misuse of the English language absolutely charms. This is a quaint film. The storyline is pretty basic musical fare. It's fairly predictable and the only surprises seem to come out of the blue with almost no prior warning. I do however recommend this film highly to anyone who has been interested in watching a Miranda film but didn't know where to start. I was going to talk about the TCM clip in which Rita Moreno talk about Carmen Miranda's career. She calls Miranda "sad lady" and that she had much more potential but this was the hand she was dealt. Casey over at Noir Girl did such an excellent post, which spurred discussion among her readers including myself, that I direct you over to her site to read it. This was my first Carmen Miranda film and I saw her vibrant and electric and not sad or pathetic. I will definitely see more Miranda films in the future.



TCM Latino Images in Film Line-Up for Thursday May 21st

Greenwich Village (1940)
West Side Story (1961)
La Bamba (1987)
The Mambo Kings (1992)
Cuba (1979)

3 comments:

  1. Raquelle,
    Nice post indeed! I can recommend one Carmen film I really like. The Gang's All Here from 1943. It was directed by Busby Berkeley and includes some of his most spaced out work and in glorious Technicolor too. The film was hard to find for years but is now quite easily found. Confusingly sometimes under a different title, Tutti Frutti.

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  2. Jonas - I will have to check that one out. Thanks!

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  3. Yay Carmen! Such a great post, Raquelle. The screenshots of Carmen are gorgeous. Thanks so much for the link! I'm getting really excited about watching Carmen tonight. I haven't seen Greenwich Village in a awhile. I'm amazed that this was your first Carmen film. It's a great one to start with though. I'll second Jonas' recommendation of The Gang's All Here and add Something for the Boys from 1944. It's a fun war themed musical with Carmen getting to banter with Phil Silvers and Perry Como making a very young appearance a crooning sergeant. :)

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