Archive for the ‘ Films ’ Category

1936, March 26 – PREMIERE OF FILM “CANILLITA”

Florencio Sanchez, eighteen years old, dreamt of marrying his sweetheart but his job as a journalist just barely provided enough to live on and when he went to see his sweetheart was embarrassed to put on, his one and only threadbare suit…watching the rascally, mischievous, bold newspaper boys jumping off and on the trams shouting the headlines to passengers and passersby, he was inspired to write a play; “Canillita” which referred to the long thin legs on which they scurried about…to his astonishment, when it was premiered on October 1, 1902, it was not only immensely popular but would capture the imagination of the world inspiring similar characters all over the world….Astor Piazzolla, for example, would play newspaper boy “Canillita” in Carlos Gardel’s film “El Dia Que Me Quieras”…instead the film “Canillita” premiering on March 26, 1936, is a musical comedy in which a young girl falls in love with a singer and elects to runaway with him rather than marrying a store keeper to whom she is promised…

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Directed by Lisandro De La Tea it stars singers Amanda Ledesma, Sabina Olmos and Principe Azul…it features Pedro Maffia and his orchestra playing the theme tango “Canillita” which was composed by Julio Cesar Sanders…Amanda Ledesma was a simple shop girl who loved to sing who reluctantly entered a singing contest and won which launched a long and glorious career…this was the first film for Sabina Olmos; thirty more would follow and she would marry legendary singer Charlo…however, years later, Charlo now dead and she penniless and all but forgotten, she would take her own life by jumping from a high story building…Principe Azul was a highly paid singer and the powerful star making machine of the United States had selected him as the new Carlos Gardel; in fact he was on his way to New York to sign a contract with NBC, when he was suddenly struck with a serious illness which swiftly took his life just two days short of his 34th birthday

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letra.aspx?idletra=3023 to hear another inspiration, “Canillita, Canillita” performed by the Francisco Pracanico Orchestra with the voice of Sofia Bozan, 1928
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1948, March 24 – 1ST RECORDED, “UNA CARTA PARA ITALIA”

“Shameless propaganda !” was how this tango was angrily described by its detractors…it was in fact propaganda for the Juan Peron regime…composer of “Una Carta Para Italia” Santos Lipseker was not only a prodigious and accomplished composer but a good businessman…however he was also known for his generosity, it was not uncommon for him to take the whole orchestra to dinner…the lyrics of “Una Carta Para Italia”, written by poet Reinaldo Yiso, are a letter from a young man to his mother back in Italy in which he describes how life is so much better in Argentina than in poor Italy all designed to sing the praises of Juan Peron’s governance…it is true that when Juan Peron came to power, for a brief period, the economy of Argentina went through a dramatic revival; in the 1920s Argentina had been the eighth richest country in the world only to crumble through a combination of the great depression and military dictatorship from which it has never recovered

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“Una Carta Para Italia” was recorded by the Francini-Pontier Orchestra with the voice of  Roberto Ruffino…Enrique Francini and Armando Pontier were both born in the town of Zarate, 100 kilometers north of Buenos Aires…in 1939 they began their careers together with the newly formed Miguel Calo Orchestra…six years later they debuted their own orchestra at the mythical “Tango Bar” with two young voices which in time would evolve, arguably, into the two greatest singers in tango history, Raul Beron and Alberto Podestà…along with Roberto Ruffino all three would see great success with Francini – Pontier…less known is the fact that Ruffino besides being a great singer was also a composer and lyricist; among his compositions are “El Bazarde los Jugetes” which would be made into a hit by Alberto Podestà in the mid 50s…Armando Pontier was the composer of some of the most beautiful tangos in history like “Trenzas”, “Corazon No Le Hagas Caso” and “Cada Dia Te Estrano Mas”…on Christmas Day of 1983, no longer able to silence the voices that haunted, he took his own life

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CLICK HERE– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErLnFXnAxEo to hear “Una Carta Para Italia” which interestingly opens with the classic Neapolitan song “Santa Lucia”

1955, March 19 – SATCHMO RECORD, “KISS OF FIRE” (EL CHOCLO)

Lester Allen and Robert Hill were basking in the fame and glory of their new hit “Kiss of Fire”, when someone finally noticed that it was oddly similar to the immortal tango “El Choclo”…in fact after intense proceedings they finally conceded that it was in fact “El Choclo” and thereafter, on all sheet music, the name of “Angel Villoldo” the orignal composer, preceded theirs…Kiss of fire was a major hit for Georgia Gibbs in 1952 reaching all the way to number 2 on the Billboard Charts…another popular version was the one by Louis Armstrong “Satchmo” which was recorded on March 19, 1955…other celebrated versions were by Nat King Cole, Connie Francis and in Finland, by the “King of Finnish Tango”, Olavi Virta…seeking to capitalize on the immense popularity of  ”Kiss of Fire” a film, directed by Joseph M. Newman and starring Jack Palance, was released in 1955…part of the background music is a flamenco like version of “Kiss of Fire”…

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Angel Villoldo, the original composer of “Kiss of Fire” (El Choclo) was a fascinating man, a sort of Ernest Hemingway and Bob Dylan all in one…he was born on February 16, 1861 into a destitute family in the neighborhood of Barracas, Buenos Aires…he quit school early to work and did many jobs including teamster, herdsman and circus clown before devoting himself to music…..he would become a prolific composer and lyricist of some of the most beloved tangos in history…”El Choclo” became instantly popular all over the world and the story is told that German officers wishing to honor a visiting Argentinean dignitary mistakenly played “El Choclo” believing it to be the national anthem…when it first premiered in the exclusive “El Americano” restaurant in Buenos Aires, the leader of the orchestra had to disguise it by calling it “Danza Criolla” as tango was considered music of the pimps and prostitutes

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CLICK HERE– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCXxJFmfGVc&playnext=1&list=
PL2E1CB4660C675B65 Louis Armstrong “Sarchmo” sing “Kiss of Fire (El Ch0clo)

1913, March 10 – BIRTH OF ENRIQUE CAMPOS

Singer (Pisces) – he was torn by the whole idea; he had already spent years with a stage name and now Ricardo Tanturi was telling him he had to change it again but the chance to replace the renown Alberto Castillo with his “Los Indios Orchestra” in Buenos Aires was a major break and so he reluctantly aquiesced…Ricardo Tanturi opened the phone book at random, scanned the page and said, “ah, here it is ‘Enrique Campos’”…ludicrous as the whole scene was, it embarked the realization of his boyhood dreams…he debuted with Tanturi on Radio El Mundo to critical acclaim and soon after, he made his first recording; on one side “Muchachos Comienza la Ronda” by Luis Porcell and on the other side the waltz “Al Pasar” by Raul Iglesias…a dedicated family man, many years later reflecting on a long and full career, he would recall that, that was also the year that he met his beloved wife with whom he would raise a proud and successful family

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He was born Enrique Troncone to struggling Italian immigrants in the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay…his parents noticed him musical talent on and encouraged him as far their humble means could permit…he began singing at a very young age in the local bars and cafes while during the day time doing all sorts of odd jobs to help support the family…his professional debut came relatively late for a singer of that era; it happened at the Cinema Helvetico in the village of Colonia Suisa, originally a swiss and german settlement; he was twenty-three years old…his first break came when he was called by Radio Station CX 18 and in March of that year he debuted on the station’s popular program“Caramelos Surtidos” with two guitarists; the telephones began to ring at the radio station and his popularity began to skyrocket…in his career he would sing with a number of orchestras and make several hit recordings; he starred in one film “Radio Candelario” which premiered at Radio City Cinema on August 21, 1939

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  • CLICK HERE –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YAxXDtbI0s&feature=related to hear Enrique Campos sing “Oigo Tu Voz” (I hear your voice) with the Ricardo Tanturi Orchestra…music by Mario Canaro, lyrics by Francisco Garcia Jimenez

1914, March 9 – PREMIERE OF “TANGO TANGLES”

By now tango madness  had swept the world over, it was all the rage in Paris, Berlin, London and so when director Mack Sennet read in the newspaper about an upcoming tango contest, he had a flash…he would send his film crew to the dance hall and improvise one of his famous “shorts”…in fact the whole of “Tango Tangles” is only twelve minutes long…”shorts” were low-budget, fast directed, improvised films which the viewing public at the turn of the century learned to love…actual tango dancing in Tango Tangles appears only briefly in the opening scene where a couple is dancing what appears to be a parody of a tango which metamorphosis into a ballet style movement…Charlie Chaplain plays an inebriated dandy who shows up at the “Dark Town Strutter Ball”, a  masked affair, makes a pass at the hat-check girl played by Sadie Lamp….

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Her favors however are being sought by two other characters, the orchestra leader played by Ford Sterling and the clarinetist Roscoe Arbuckle, all legends of the silent movie era…there is of course the requisite slapstick, with the long punches and the inadvertent falls, a genre created by director Mack Sennet which would lead to stellar success for his Keystone Studios; it was he who discovered Chaplain about whom George Bernard Shaw would say, “he was the only genius to come out of the movie industry”…Chaplain’s role was one of the few where he did not appear as his signature “tramp and mustache” character…Chaplain’s many loves would include the sex goddess Louise Brooks…Mack Sennet, Canadian born actor, comedian, musician and director, would produce more than 1000 silent films in his 25 year career …his short “Wrestling Swordfish” won an academy award in 1932…..in the final scene of Tango Tangles, Ford Sterling and Charlie Chaplain have punched each other out and are lying on the floor exhausted and Sterling finally says, “I don’t want her, you can have her”

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CLICK HERE– http://www.youtube.com/

watch?v=YqgSgkz_Obw to see “Tango Tangles” directed by Mack Sennet

1921, March 6 – Premiere “Four Horsemen and The Apocalypse”

Julio is beguiled by the seductive girl dancing the tango…with a confident, menacing stare he strides to the center of the dance floor, with gaucho whip in hand and asks the man let him cut in….in a cavalier manner the man simply ignores Julio and continues to dance with the girl…Julio is enraged and shoves the man brusquely away from the girl…the man takes his knife out and lunges at him but Julio adeptly evades the knife and hits the man on the head with the handle of his whip.. the man falls down and Julio takes over the girl to finish with a spectacular tango dance to the enthusiastic applause of the audience...it is precisely this scene from “Four Horsemen and the Apocalypse” which launched the tango craze throughout the world…based on Vasco Ibanez’s classic novel, several studios had tried unsuccessfully to adapt the novel but it was writer June Mathis who finally succeeded…it was she who hired Rodolfo Valentino, an obscure B film struggling actor who had worked as a taxi dancer…the tango scene in fact was not part of the original story but Mathis included to take advantage of Valentino’s dancing skills

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It premiered to great acclaim and had a huge cultural impact; it became the top grossing film of 1921 and the first ever to earn one million dollars at the box office…it turned Rodolfo Valentino into a superstar and launched the tango craze; June Mathis would become one of the first powerful women executives in Hollywood…Valentino was born in Castellaneta, Puglia to an Italian father and a French mother…he spent some idle time in Paris and finally returned to Puglia but unable to get a job he left for the United States and arriving there on December 23, 1913…he ran out of money and for a while he lived on the streets of New York…he eventually moved to Los Angeles where he taught dancing to older high society women…on August 15, 1926 he collapsed at the Hotel Ambassador in New York; he was operated on, for a ruptured appendix; surgery had gone well and a recovery was expected…however, he unexpectedly developed pleuritis in his left lung and fell into a coma..he passed away on August 23, 1926; he was 31 years old…interestingly, the film inspired a young Betty Davis to try acting; in 1999, the American Film Institute rated Davis as number two on the list of the “Greatest Female Stars of All Time”

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1994, March 4 – “RIDE OF THE VALKYRIES” AS TANGO

“He is the last of a dying breed and the first of a new one” is how one critic described Richard Grayson…he has been called a genius for his ability to improvise on the spot, in any melody, in any key, in any rhythm, in any style…it is said  J. S Bach was one of a very few musicians in history who had this ability…in fact, as Richard himself points out, in the Baroque and Renaissance period it was customary for classical musicians to learn to improvise; today that talent is most often associated with Jazz musicians…in fact tango dancing, which is strictly improvisational shares this tradition with them…Richard started studying piano when he was six years old and as a child he loved to just sit at the piano and improvise on the sounds that he was hearing and feeling…he was  a winner of the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship which enabled him to study with renown masters in Europe…

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He later received a Ph.D in composition from UCLA and taught until retirement at the Occidental College in Los Angeles…he became legendary for his unusual concerts where audience members would challenge him on the spot to improvise on a suggested theme….out of his copious compositions perhaps his two most popular are “Mr. 528″ and“Shoot the Piano Player”…Ride of the Valkyries occurs in the beginning of Act III of “Die Walkure”, the second of  Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle”….”Valkyries” has been used in many films starting with W. D. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” in 1915 and more recently in 1979 in Francis Ford Coppola’s, “Apocalypse Now” in the horrifying scene of  helicopters attacking a Vietnam Village …according to Guy Sajer, a German tank officer in World War II, in his book “A Forgotten Soldier”, “Valkyries” was played on their short wave radios before attempting a breakthrough in the “Battle of Memel” on the eastern front

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