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"In the Spotlight"


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Thanks, Mongo! I did a quick peek and it doesn't seem to be scheduled yet, but it does seem to have been released on VHS at one time. Maybe that means it might make it to dvd one day, perhaps as part of a set with other versions. :)

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I'm so glad that many people responded to Mongo's excellent profile of Edward Arnold. I too, would like to see Crime and Punishment, particularly since it was the one movie that Peter Lorre wanted to do when he came to the U.S. From what I recall in the recent bio of Lorre by Stephen Youngkin, "The Lost One", Arnold and he enjoyed working together, but the studio was not enthused about the adaptation and didn't do much to promote the film.

 

Of all the Edward Arnold movies that I'd most like to see, Diamond Jim (1935), about the robber baron Jim Brady, seems to be another film that's mouldering somewhere. I saw it as a kid and never forgot the pathos and humor that Arnold invested in that part. You'd think that film restorers would seek it out, in part because of the continued popularity of Preston Sturges, who wrote the witty script.

 

In addition to the comments made by other posters about his excellent speaking voice, I also love Arnold's great laugh. It was infectious, and he could make it seem menacing as well. Thanks for including him in your series, Mongo.

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I've seen these features (Arnold as a blind PI), and they're BOTH very competent, lots of fun!

And ya know, although I'm typically a pretty staunch Malamute man, I enjoyed that dog Friday.

(Quite magnetic for an Alsatian; acts rings around Rin Tin Tin!)

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In the Spotlight: Carmen Miranda

 

Carmen Miranda was born Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha

on February 9, 1909 in the small northern Portuguese town of Marco de Canaveses. She was later nicknamed Carmen by her father, because of his love of opera (specifically: Carmen from the opera by Bizet). She was the second daughter of Jos? Maria Pinto Cunha and Maria Em?lia Miranda. Shortly after her birth, her father, emigrated to Brazil and settled in Rio de Janeiro (the then capital), where he opened a barber's shop. In 1910, her mother followed, together with her eldest daughter, Olinda, and Carmen. Carmen never returned to Portugal.

Once in Brazil, her parents had further children, namely: Amaro, Cec?lia, Aurora and Oscar.

Carmen went to school at the Convent of Saint Teresinha. Her very Catholic parents did not approve of her dreams of pursuing show business, so she kept them secret for years.

In her spare time, she often sang at parties and festivals around town. Carmen's eldest sister, Olinda, contracted tuberculosis and returned to Portugal for treatment. As a result, Carmen took her first job in a tie shop at age 14, to help pay for her sister's medical treatment. She later worked in a boutique, La Femme Chic, where she learned to make hats. In no time, she started her own small hat business which became quite profitable. Olinda, meanwhile, remained in Portugal until her death in 1931.

 

Carmen was eventually discovered and given the chance to perform on a local radio station. One thing led to another, and she pursued a career as a samba singer for 10 years before she was invited to New York City to perform in a show on Broadway.

In Brazil, she was noted as a musical innovator, and was one of the first samba superstars long before her arrival in the United States. She also made six films during her career in Brazil.

 

Carmen arrived in the United States in 1939 with her band, the Bando da Lua, and achieved stardom in the early 1940s. She was encouraged by the United States government in her United States career as part of President Roosevelt?s Good Neighbor Policy, designed to strengthen links with Latin America and Europe; it was believed that in delivering content like hers, the policy would be better received by the American public. She was the country's highest-paid entertainer for several years in the 1940s, and in 1945 was one of the highest-paid woman in the United States, bar none, earning more than $200,000 that year, according to IRS records.

 

Carmen made a total of 14 Hollywood films between 1940 and 1953 which included, "That Night in Rio", "Week-End in Havana" with Alice Faye who adored her, "Springtime in the Rockies", "The Gang's All Here", "Greenwich Village", "Something for the Boys", "Doll Face", "Copacabana" with Groucho Marx, "A Date with Judy", "Nancy Goes to Rio", "Scared Stiff" with Martin & Lewis, etc.

 

As a singer, she sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. She was given the nickname "The Brazilian Bombshell".

 

Carmen?s Hollywood image was one of a generic Latinness that blurred the distinctions between Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico as well as between samba, tango and habanera. It was carefully stylized and outlandishly flamboyant. She was often shown wearing platform sandals and towering headdresses made of fruit, becoming famous as "the lady in the tutti-frutti hat." At only 5 feet tall, these accoutrements made her appear almost larger-than-life on screen.

 

She was well aware of the tensions in her career. During a visit to Brazil in 1940 she was heavily criticized for giving in to American commercialism and projecting a false image of Brazil. She responded with the Portuguese language song "Disseram Que Eu Voltei Americanizada," or "They Say I've Come Back Americanized." Another song, "Bananas Is My Business," was based on a line in one of her movies and directly addressed her image. She was mightily upset by the criticism and did not return to Brazil again for 14 years.

 

Carmen did not drink or smoke until her late 30s. In addition to her addiction to alcohol and tobacco, Carmen regularly used amphetamines and barbiturates, all of which weakened her heart.

 

Carmen died of a heart attack following an appearance on "The Jimmy Durante Show". The A&E Network Biography episode featuring Carmen Miranda contained the tragic kinescope footage from her appearance. After completing a dance number, Carmen unknowingly suffered a mild heart attack, and nearly collapsed. Durante was at her side, and helped keep her on her feet. Carmen then smiled, waved to the crowd, and walked offstage for the last time. "The Brazilian Bombshell" was gone by the next morning August 5, 1955; she was just 46.

At the time of her death she was married to Dave Sebastian since March 17, 1947 (60 years ago today). A handsome gent, he proved to be an abusive and oppurtunistic brute who made Carmen's life hell.

 

The official cause of death given on her death certificate was from untreated toxemia (later known as pre-eclampsia), and heart failure stemming from a pregnancy. Her body was flown back to Brazil soon afterwards and the Brazilian government declared a period of national mourning. She was buried in the Cemit?rio S?o Jo?o Batista in Rio de Janeiro. Her funeral cort?ge, en route to the cemetery, was accompanied by about half a million people.

 

The Brazilian Bombshell has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Mongo, many thanks for the Miranda material!

(We now ALL have the right to remain entertained!)

It was just the tropical cooler I needed this a.m. to help reduce my GIANT Guinness head from last night.

(I woke up at home, in bed, and the truck's in the driveway, so I guess nothing went HORRIBLY wrong!)

Speaking of the alarmin' Carmen, did you ever happen to see the full-page photo of her being spun aloft, during a dance number, by Caeser Romero, from Kenneth Anger's "Hollywood Babylon II"?

"South of the Border" takes on a whole new, shall we say, spin!

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Klondike, glad you made it home OK. I remember those days very well.

 

Yes, I'm familiar with the controversial Mianda/Romero picture. I have access to it but felt it was too much for this thread.

Apparently she felt constricted wearing panties.

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Mongo, there is a documentary about Miranda (made in the mid-90s, I think) called "Bananas Is My Business." It was shown on TV a few times over the past few years, but I don't recall if it was on PBS or one of the non-fiction cable channels. Very interesting. One thing I remember her compatriots saying about her in this film was what excellent diction she had in singing those sort of "patter" songs she recorded in Portuguese. Not knowing the language, I'll have to take their word for it, but she certainly did sound to be speaking very clearly.

 

I always enjoy her movies, and I always have the impression that she could have done much more than the studios gave her to do.

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