Archive for the ‘ Tango In Film ’ Category

1998, February 12 – PREMIERE OF SAURA’S “TANGO”

Mario is devastated, his wife has left him for another man and to make matter worse, he has to see them together every day as they are dancers in the tango film he is making…the financier of the film, a powerful and dangerous man, asks him to give a part to Elena, a young, beautiful dancer who is his lover (Elena is played by Mia Maestro who would later star in “Frida”, another film with a tango scene in it)…Mario eventually falls in love with her and the two begin an affair together risking both their lives; in the mean time, the making of the tango film goes on….it is roughly a remake of the mythical Moglia Barth “Tango” of 1933…it won a nomination for an academy award and has won awards in film festivals all over the world primarily for the dancing and the cinematography which was created by academy award-winning Vittorio Storaro who also did “Last Tango In Paris”…”Tango”, one of the best tango films of all time was directed by renown Spanish director Carlos Saura, famous for his combination of passion and dance in films like  ”Carmen” and “Flamenco”…Janet Maslin, the New York Times critic was to write of the film, “Tango offers transfixingly beautiful glimpses of the dance and all the wide range of emotions it can conjure”

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One of the most exciting scenes in the film occurs when mythical tanguero Juan Carlos Copes dances with his daughter Joanna Copes…Copes is one of the last remaining of the great, authentic, tangueros of the golden era who has done everything in tango for 50 years…he began dancing as a young boy in the bars and clubs of Buenos Aires; his hero was Gene Kelly …but he had decided on a career as an electronic engineer when at the age of 20 he happened to win a tango contest in which 300 couples were competing…it launched a career which would take him all over the world…the film also featured a young singer Roxanne Fontana who would  go on to become one of the most gifted and versatile  tango singers in history…”Tango” includes a clip from the 1955 classic “Mercado De Abasto” in which Tita Merello sings her great hit “Se Dice De Mi”…Juan Carlos Copes got to meet his hero Gene Kelly who summoned him to his house in his waning days … “tango”, Copes  says, “is the only dance that allows imagination and creativity to form in three minutes and to become a history of love and of hate”.

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1943, February 11 – Beron Records “ME LLAMAN EL ZORRO”

Performing with the Lucio Demare Orchestra, this was another great hit for singer Raul Beron who in the eyes of some cognoscenti, was the greatest orchestra singer of all time…the lyrics are the boasting of a young man, born in La Boca, who is a dashing and debonair rogue who thrives on adversity and loves his life of adventure...”I am a tanguero from the old school and I carry tango in my soul…they call me Zorro”, he says…lyricist Roberto Lambertucci was inspired by the legend of Zorro which was created by New York pulp writer Johnston McCulley in 1919 and which has inspired books, films and other media…it in turn may have been inspired by the real life character Joaquim Carillo Murrieta who was a legendary figure in California during the gold rush who became a robin hood type hero to Mexicans battling racism and discrimination…a reward was offered by the California legislature to capture and kill Murrieta…when he was finally apprehended and executed without due process, his head was severed and placed in a jar of  alcohol as proof of his death to collect the reward

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The severed head in a jar toured California and could be seen for the price of one dollar…among Zorro’s many manifestations is the 1925 film “Don Q Son of Zorro” starring Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Astor in which Zorro dances a Valentino style tango..in the 1998 film “The Mark of Zorro” starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, there is a scene in which Catherine Zeta-Jones dances a passionate dance which is a hodge podge of tango and passo doble…Raul Beron, born March 30, 1920 (Aries) in the town of Zarate, Argentina, began performing in duet with his brother Jose in the local cafes and bars for spare change…it was during one of his non remunerated performances on radio, that orchestra leader Miguel Calò heard him and invited him for an audition; he hire him immediately…his first recording with Calo on April 29, 1942, “Al Compas Del Corazon”, became an instant  great hit and launched Raul on the road to legendary status.

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  • CLICK HERE– http://www.youtube.com/
  • watch?v=rckflM7IV6k to hear Raul Beron sing his hit “Me Llaman El Zorro” with the Lucio Demare orchestra…music is by Mario Perini and lyrics by Roberto Lambertucci

1929, January 30 – PREMIERE OF “PANDORA’S BOX”

“She was the most seductive, sexual image of woman ever permitted in celluloid…she is the only pure pleasure seeker I think I ever met” these were the comments of director Richard Leacock regarding actress Louis Brooks…she created a scandal dancing a tango with lesbian “Countess Augusta Geschweitz” in G. W.Pabst’s classic “Pandora’s Box”...Louise portrays “Lulu” a seductive, erotic, thoughtless young woman whose raw sexuality and uninhibited nature bring ruin to herself and those who love her…in this film she is the mistress of a well-respected newspaper publisher whom she marrys..she accidently kills him and is sentenced to five years in prison…she escapes with Alwa, her husband’s son but she is eventually sold to a brothel in Egypt…they eventually escape to London where they are living in squalor and where she prostitutes herself to make ends meet…she selects a client who is non other than Jack the Ripper… in the last scene, Alwa decides to leave her and is seen following a Salvation Army parade unawares of Lulu’s horrible fate up stairs…Jack the Ripper glances at him as he goes by

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In real life Louis Brooks was “Lulu”, living a libertine life of excessive drinking, opulent rich life style, reckless spending, sexual liberation and experimentation including a lesbian affair with Greta Garbo…at the age of nine she had been sexually abused by a neighbor which began her intense relationship to sexuality…in an interview she states “I was a terrible actress, in the film I was simply playing myself which is the hardest thing in the world to do”…her lovers included Charley Chaplain, CBS president William Paley and many others…by the age of 32 she was forgotten; she had had several opportunities to revive her career but she hated hollywood and told them to go to hell…alone and alcoholic, she took a job as a sales clerk in a New York department store where no one suspected she was the former beauty queen and screen myth…later she worked for a call girl agency catering to rich clientele…she never had any children describing herself, in typical  self deprecating humor as “Baren Brooks”

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1988, January 27 – PREMIERE OF “TANGO BAR”

“Tonight Antonio will walk into Tango Bar, will walk through that door, back into your life, our lives says” says Ricardo, “There is nothing left between Antonio and I, nor fire nor ashes, you are only hurting yourself needlessly”, Elena responds to Ricardo trying to reassure him, …”Tango Bar” is a movie about a classic love triangle…Antonio, a bandoneon player and singer, had fled  Argentina during the period of state sponsored terrorism to save his life leaving behind his wife, tango singer Elena with his show business partner, pianist and songwriter Ricardo…in the mean time Ricardo and Elena have fallen in love…Ricardo is played by Raul Julia, Antonio by Ruben Juarez and Elena by Valeria Lynch; the film was directed by Marcos Zurinaga with music by Attilo Stampone .

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Throughout the movie, there are flashbacks to the duo’s sellout show 11 years earlier, called ‘Este es Tango’ (This is Tango) including a series of dance sequences that illustrate the history including a tango danced in a sumptuous Buenos Aires brothel, a 1920s European style tango, a street tango, a stage show, Abott and Costello dancing Tango and even the cartoon Flintstones dancing the tango…the pinnacle is an authentic ‘tango argentino’ where Antonio, in a bit of provincialism says, “this is tango danced the right way by the people who dance it best”…Valeria Lynch was born on January 7, 1952 (Capricorn) in the Villa Urquiza neighborhood of Buenos Aires…for a time she was a singer for the rock group “The Expression” but in the 1990s she became a tango singer and made successful tours all over the world…Tango Bar was also the name of a movie made by Carlos Gardel in 1935 in which he sings his immortal “Por Una Cabeza” which has been featured in so many films including “Scent Of A Woman” and “Shindler’s List”…Tango Bar was Gardel’s last film before dying tragically in an airplane crash in Medellin, Colombia in June of 1935

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1933, December 29 – PREMIERE OF “FLYING DOWN TO RIO”

For this film Vincent Youmans composed the tango “Orchids in the Moonlight” which would be a smash hit and another leap forward in the tango craze in the United States and consequently the world…it is sung by Raul Roulien and danced by Fred Astair with Dolores Del Rio who was considered the female Rodolofo Valentino…”Orchids in the Moonlight” would be subsequently recorded by many other artists including The Platters in 1960 and by the legendary mexican trio Los Panchos in English; Ricardo Montalban and Cyd Cherise were to do an unforgetable dance to it in the 1948 film “On An Island With You”…this was the first time that Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers had worked together…Interestingly, Fred had been reluctant to work with her; having danced with his sister for many years, he now dreamt of finally breaking away to a solo career…

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The film was originally conceived as a showcase for silent film beauty star Dolores Del Rio, instead the unexpected chemistry between Fred and Ginger usurped the headlines and buzz and created the greatest dancing couple in history; they were to make nine other films together…”Flying Down to Rio” , directed by Thorton Freeman,  follows the adventures of  Roger Bond a band leader and aviator who falls in love with the Brazilian beauty Belinda de Resende (Dolores Del Rio) even though she is already engaged to Julio played by Raul Roulien…Roulien was the first Brazilian actor to make it in Hollywood; in the later part of his career he successfully produced and directed a number of films…Vincent Youmans composed some successful broadway hits although his career was relatively short; like the legenday Eduardo Arolas, he finally passed away relatively young  from complications of TB and alcoholism

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1972, December 22 – POLICE SEIZE COPIES OF “LAST TANGO”

“Seize all copies and burn them !”shouted the Bologna, Italy prosecutor,“self serving pornography, that’s all it is” he continued with indignation…to thunderous acclaim, the film “Last Tango in Paris” had been released in Italy on December 15, 1972…one week later, police seized all copies and its director Bernardo Bertolucci, its producer Alberto Grimaldi and actress Maria Schneider were arrested and put on trial for obscenity….Following a series of sensational trials and appeals, the fate of the movie was sealed when on January 26, 1976 the Italian Supreme Court ruled all copies to be destroyed…its director Bernardo Bertolucci was served with a four-month suspended sentence in prison and had his civil rights revoked for five years…it was not until 1987, fifteen years later, that the censorship ban was finally revoked and for the official release of the film permitted…Indeed the film’s raw portrayal of sexual violence and emotional turmoil led to international controversy…about it Time Magazine was to write, “any movie goer who is not shocked, titillated, disgusted, delighted or angered by this early scene in Bernardo Bertolucci’s new movie Las Tango In Paris, should be patient…

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The film portrays an American, Paul, whose wife commits suicide…while waiting for his wife’s funeral, seeking to purge himself of his feelings of guilt, he  initiates an anonymous, sadomasochistic, sexual relationship with a young Parisian woman he happens to meet by chance. ..Bernardo Bertolucci quite openly admitted that the idea for the film grew from a sexual fantasy, “I once dreamt of seeing a beautiful, seductive, nameless woman walking on the street and having sex with her without ever knowing who she really was”…actress Maria Schneider, who plays the young girl, was to say years later that making the film was the only regret she had; that it had actually ruined her life, “I felt humiliated and to be brutally honest a little raped by both Marlin and Bertolucci”...Marlon Brando received an academy award for best actor and Bernardo Bertolucci was nominated for best director

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2002, December 10 – PREMIERE OF “CHICAGO”

One reviewer actually said that the single biggest reason for the phenomenal success of the film “Chicago” was the piece “Cell Block Tango”…another critic said “you might find yourself humming it long after you’ve watched the movie”...in Cell Block Tango six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail describe how each has killed her husband in unique ways, why the victim ‘had it coming‘ and why she is‘…starring Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Renee Zellweger, it was directed by Rob Marshall…”Chicago” was nominated for 13 academy awards and won six including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones)…it was the first musical film to win the Best Picture oscar since “Oliver” in 1968…

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Chicago centers on Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, two criminals-of-passion who find themselves awaiting their trials for murder in 1920s Chicago; …Velma has killed her husband and sister after having found them in bed together; Roxie has killed her boyfriend when he reneges on making her a star…together they hope that fame will keep them from the gallows…the film was based on the Bob Fosse’s broadway play by the same name which was in turn was based on a play by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, who wasassigned to cover the real life murder trials Beulah Annan and Belva Gaertner for the Chicago Tribune in 1924….the budget for the film was 45 million dollars; by September of 2003, its world-wide gross sales were over 170 million dollars…Velma famously says in the film “with the right song and dance, you can get away with murder”

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