Posts Tagged ‘ 10 best tango films ’

1885, February 14 – BIRTH OF “EL CACHFAZ”

Dancer (Aquarius) – his last words were“Carmencita, I will be waiting for you to drink half a glass of whiskey after the match”, he walked out and a few seconds later he dropped dead from a massive heart attack….starting as a dirt poor boy, El Cachafaz, was to become, in the eyes of many, the greatest tango dancer of his time…he attained fame and glory and earned and spent huge sums on a bohemian life…and yet he died penniless, his friends had to take up a collection to pay the 800 pesos for a simple funeral….reflecting on that day at the city of Mar de Plata at the club “El Rancho Grande”, his partner Carmencita Calderon, who would live to 100, would say, “he was actually pocked-marked and ugly but he was the greatest tango dancer and many women fell in love with him”…El Cachfaz had even  survived the mythical duel with El Pardo Santillan, another great dancer, which El Cachfaz had won and which just barely missed turning into a bloody knife fight as was the custom in those times for men to protect their honor

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Ovidio Jose Banquet “El Cachafaz” was born in Barracas al Sur but grew up in the legendary Abasto neighborhood in Buenos Aires…apparently he was quite mischievous as a boy and one day he took undue liberties with a girl and when the girl’s father complained, his father is said to have shouted, “mi hijo es un cachafaz” (“my son is a rascal”); the name would remain with him for the rest of his life…he began dancing as a young boy on the sidewalks to the organists who played for spare change…at the age of 19 he won an important dance contest at the El Parisien Club which had been organized by the prominent Baron de Marchis…it is de Marchi who would introduce him to the high society ladies who would help his career and pay him huge sums for private lessons…in 1919 he went to Paris to perform at the famous “Club Garron” with the Manuel Pizzaro orchestra but he missed his life in Buenos Aires especially the Cafe Corrientes to where he assiduously went everyday at six in the afternoon to drink with a tight group of friends including Carlos Gardel…he danced with the legendary Sofia Bozan in “Carnavales De Antano” in 1940…his life inspired composer Miguel Bucino to write “Bailarin Compadrito” in 1929…he danced with Carmencita Calderon in the renown film “Tango” in 1933

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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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1927, February 9 – J.YANKELEVICH BUYS RADIO BELGRANO

Legendary singer Rosita Quiroga was to say, “In the beginning we were paid with cups of coffee”…in fact in radio’s nascent days, musicians performed for free; they were paid by copious amounts of food and wine which, for struggling, starving musicians, was very appreciated …it is believed that Rosita Quiroga was probably the first soloist on radio but she became equally famous with her fellow musicians for the ravioli she cooked in Radio Belgrano’s kitchens…Radio Belgrano was a failing enterprise when Jaime Yankelevich bought it from its frustrated owner Manuel Penella …but Jaime was an astute business man and he quickly imposed a new business model; he went to an all live, all night broadcasting  format where musicians were paid a salary and in return they gave an exclusive to Radio Belgrano...the station flourished and quickly became the station with the highest ratings in Argentina…it was considered a symbol of “having arrived” to be a Radio Belgrano musician; renown bandoneonist Luciano Leocata, for example, launched his career when debuted on Radio Belgrano in March of 1959… in later innovations, Jaime created the Argentine Broadcasting Chain which made viable, small low watage stations throughout Argentina which otherwise would have closed down…

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Indeed through Radio Belgrano passed the greatest tango musicians in history….there is no renown musician whose career was not touched or launched by Radio Belgrano; through its popular “new talent contests” many stars were discovered….Jaime Yankelevich was born in Bulgaria in 1896 to a struggling jewish family; when he was 3 years old his parents emigrated to Buenos Aires…as a teenager, Jaime found work in a  theater as an electrician’s apprentice; he eventually opened his own electrical supply shop…at a time when radio was beginning to boom, the shop specialized in radio valves and other equipment; Jaime even learned to manufacture his own parts….in the 40s, he opposed the election of Juan Peron which created problems for him when Peron came into power…when Peron moved to nationalized all media, Jaime finally sold his chain for 1.5 millom dollars in 1947 but astutely continued to manage the station and keep most of the earnings but relinquishing to the government the right of programming…in 1952 Radio Belgrano launched the first television station which became the mythical Channel 7

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1929, February 5 – GARDEL SINGS AT PARIS OPERA HOUSE

“Who would have thought back then, sixteen years ago that one day I would be singing here” wrote Carlos Gardel to his friend and manager Jose Razzano referring to their boyhood when the thought of performing at the mythical Paris Opera House was only a wildly unattainable dream for boys from poor immigrant families…indeed to have been invited to sing at the Paris Opera House for the “Bal de Petit Lits Blanc”, the most important social event of the year, was to have conquered Paris and therefore the world…he became the darling of a decadent aristocracy and it is they  who would catapult him to international fame; it is they who would export tango into a world sensation…on this particular night the well liked President of the Republic Gaston Doumergue was especially thrilled and he sent down a note to Gardel, would he please re-sing “El Cerretero”; with deep respect Gardel bowed to the president and did, to the enthusiastic applause of his excellency…

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Ten days later he opened at the Casino in Cannes for the unbelievable sum of 4000 francs a night; a famous magazine “La Rampe” in the luxurious end of the year edition, ran a full color photo of him….telegrams were personally delivered to him, a service reserved for only the most important people…he relished his success in paris, “I am living better than a millionaire in paris, in the best district in a comfortable house” he would write in letters to friends; much of his fortune would be squandered in his horse gambling habit…..150 years earlier, other Gardels were conquering an earlier version of the Paris Opera, Maximilien and Pierre Gardel ballet dancers and choreographers…Maximilien became the dance instructor of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI…he died young from an infection resulting from a small toe injury sustained while dancing…his brother Pierre became a renown choreographer and ballet master for 35 years surviving a number of political upheavals including the French Revolution…on the day that Louis XVI was beheaded, the Paris Opera was performing Pierre’s “The Trial of Paris”…Gardel would meet his own premateur demise just six years later in a fiery airplane crash .

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1933, January 23 – Gardel Records “LA CANCION DE BUENOS AIRES”

Who knows that if Carlos Gardel had not recorded “La Cancion de Buenos Aires” it might have been just another of the thousands of tangos with momentary flashes to then be relegated to the dust bin of oblivion…instead this piece, which was written by Orestes Cufaro and Azucena Maizani, is one of the most successful tangos in history…it would be hard to find a tango performer of renown who has not recorded it…twice it was made into a film; in 1945 directed by Julio Irigoyen and in 1980 directed by Fernando Siro…it was a minor hit for singer Alberto Castillo when he sang it in Manuel Romero’s 1948 film El Tango Vuelve a Paris…Orestes Cufaro was born in the city of Rosario, Argentina where his father was a pianist and an orchestra director…his father was his first teacher and it soon became evident that young Orestes was a child prodigy…he made his performance debut at the age of eleven at the Belgrano Cinema as the pianist for the Abel Bedruna Orchestra; he was so impressive that he soon found himself playing in the best cafes, cinemas and theaters in Rosario…

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At age 18 he made the big move to Buenos Aires where he debuted at Radio Prieto; along the way he met singer Azucena Maizani  who would record his first tango “Usted Sabe Senor Juez” ….within these circles he came to know playwrite and future icon of the Argentinean film industry Manuel Romero who asked him to write a theme song for his play “La Cancion de Buenos Aires”; for this he sought the collaboration of Azucena Maizani …Carlos Gardel was very fond of Azucena; he seemed to take an almost fatherly concern for her, frequently inquiring of Orestes about her well being…it was out of friendship for Azucena that Gardel agreed to record “La Cancion de Buenos Aires”….Orestes would compose a number of other hits including “Vencido” and “Una y Mil Noches”…Manuel Romero was one of the most successful lyricists in history; Carlos Gardel himself recorded 19 of his tangos…Romero would write 180 plays and direct 53 films in his career all them with similar characteristics; simple and heart-moving scripts where the typical characters were the poor young lover, the young rich girl in love with him and the cavalier son of a tycoon who vies for her hand

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2009 January 18 – PREMIERE “ANOTHER CINDERELLA STORY”

“Wow! There is some real electricity in here” was director Damon Santostefano’s thought when he had actress Selena Gomez and actor Drew Seeley read for this romantic comedy“there was immediate Rodolfo Valentino type chemistry which, by the way, hardly ever happens; I got chills down my spin”…in fact the critics were surprised by the overall quality of the film which was expected to be just another teenage bubblegum offering…according to one reviewer the best part of the film was the tango scene they danced together, “offset with some sexy steam-filled tango” she said…noted critic Amber Wilkinson of “Eye For Film” gave the film 4 out of 5 stars…Another Cinderella Story is the classic Cinderella story but set in a modern world where the glass slipper is substituted by an Ipod…the sound track reached number eight on the billboard charts…it ranked number one for cable films that month and reached 5.3 million homes across all key demos.

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Actress Selena Gomez was discovered in Dallas, Texas in a nationwide search when she was 12 years old by the Disney Channel; it was at this age that she started wearing a “purity ring” which is a promise to remain chaste until marriage…her career has exploded into movies, pop star recordings, her own production company, her own fashion line…in August 2009, a 17-year-old Selena became the youngest UNICEF  ambassador ever…in her first official field mission, Selena traveled to Ghana for a week to witness first-hand the stark conditions of vulnerable children that lack vital necessities including clean water, nourishment, education and healthcare….the choreographer was Michelle Johnson who worked with Rob Marshall in the academy award-winning “Chicago“…Damon Santostefano who directed the critically acclaimed “Last Man Running”, has directed off broadway stage productions and was a stand up comedian in his hometown of Boston

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1948, January 16 – PREMIERE, “THE TANGO RETURNS TO PARIS”

Director Manuel Romero was not a nice person, he had a terrible temper and was difficult to work for….he tended to work frenetically, writing as he went along and finishing a film as soon as possible; perhaps he had in mind his considerable gambling debts…he was immensely prodigious in his career; he was to make 53 films…he started as a playwrite, his first one being “Teatro Breve”; 149 others were to follow including some very successful ones..he worked as a journalist for the respected “Fray Mocho” magazine and even wrote the lyrics to numerous tangos including the two hits “Tomo Y Oblio”  (which was Carlos Gardel’s Last Tango) and “Tiempos Viejos”…his films followed the same formula, simple, heart-wrenching scripts complete with the poor boy in love with a rich girl who is being pursued by the cavalier son of the local tycoon all of it contrasted by a good dose of comedy and lots of tangos; the critics hated it, the people loved it

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“The Tango  Returns to Paris”(El Tango Vuelve a Paris) was another showcase for singer Alberto Castillo who was a board certified gynecologist by day and a crooner by night….his practise was so invaded by young girls that he reluctantly had to quit his medical practise and devote himself to singing…in the film, Alberto plays “Alberto” who is also a medical doctor whose passion is tango and who, along with a group of friends decides to try to reignite tango passions in Paris…there is, of course, a love story and humourous situations which present ample opportunity to sing several tangos including “Ninguna”, “Griseta”, and “Muñeca brava”…the film stars a boyish Anibal Troilo and his orchestra and is the only one where Anibal actually has a speaking part…the film also features legendary Mexican singer Elvira Rios who had that dark, mysterious quality in her style which one critic likened to Zara Leander…she had considerable success in the United States as well as Latin America and was one of the first Latinos to break into  Hollywood

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  • CLICK HERE – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VwAsWC3_so to see a clip from the film “The Tango Returns to Paris” in which Alberto Castillo sings“Muneca Brava” composed in 1929 by Luis Visca with lyrics by Enrique Cadicamo
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