At the end of April I reviewed It’s a Date, a 1940 film about a mother and daughter (Kay Francis and Deanna Durbin) fighting for the same stage role and the same man. I said that the film made decent light entertainment and gave it a score of 3.5/5.
Today I’ll be looking at the remake, released 10 years later: Nancy Goes to Rio, starring Ann Sothern and Jane Powell in the mother (Frances) and daughter (Nancy) roles. The plot of this film is slightly different than It’s a Date, with less mother-daughter rivalry, but more mishap and misunderstanding.
Nancy Goes to Rio was directed by Robert Z. Leonard.
I’ll begin this review with a dose of honesty: I enjoyed this film a lot more than the 1940 version. Nancy Goes to Rio is a greater success for a number of reasons.
This 1950 remake is much higher on energy from the beginning than the 1940 film. The performances are good in It’s a Date, but the cast of Nancy Goes to Rio bubbles over with charisma. Also contributing to this film’s energy are a quick pace and lots of fast-talking, witty dialogue from all of the characters, Nancy in particular.
I also found Ann Sothern and Jane Powell to be more believable as mother and daughter than Kay Francis and Deanna Durbin.
Jane Powell injects into her character of Nancy a true adoration for Frances. There is one early scene where Nancy stands at side-stage during her mother’s performance. Nancy sings along to her mother’s musical number, not so as to outshine her mother, but with bright eyes and an expression that beams with pride.
Nancy constantly speaks with dramatic flair, as though always on the stage, and she does care a lot about her own success, but she and Frances seem to have a closer bond than the mother and daughter pair of It’s a Date.
Since this is a musical, the song and dance numbers are also an obviously important element contributing to the film’s success. The numbers in this film are truly delightful. One favorite is a number performed by Ann Sothern, Jane Powell and Louis Calhern (who plays Nancy’s grandfather), “Shine On, Harvest Moon.” Carmen Miranda also appears in the film and delivers a couple of fantastic musical numbers!
Nancy Goes to Rio is full of charm. Fans of mid-century musicals will love this remake of It’s a Date. The story’s a bit silly, but the music is great, the characters are endearing and the film on the whole is a lot of fun to watch. The score: 4.5/5