Eighty-seven years ago, the film Flying Down to Rio premiered. This pre-code RKO movie has the first on screen pairing of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. It’s got everything you want and expect when you see that RKO studio slide pop up before the title. You have to see this film.
Directed by: Thornton Freeland, George Nicholls Jr. (associate), Ray Lissner (assistant)
Produced by: Merian C. Cooper, Lou Brock
Written by: Play: 1933 Anne Caldwell; Story: Lou Brock; Screenplay: Erwin S. Gelsey, H.W. Hanemann, Cyril Hume
Starring: Dolores del Río, Gene Raymond, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire
Music by: Songs – Music: Vincent Youmans; Songs – Lyrics: Gus Kahn, Edward Eliscu
Score: Max Steiner
Cinematography: J. Roy Hunt
Edited by: Jack Kitchin
Production company: RKO Radio Pictures
Distributed by: RKO Radio Pictures
Release date: December 29, 1933
Running time: 89 minutes
Country: United States
Box office: $1,545,000
Composer Roger Bond (Gene Raymond) and his orchestra are appearing in Miami, with vocalist Honey Hales (Ginger Rogers). Despite the warnings of accordionist and assistant band leader Fred Ayres (Fred Astaire), Roger is attracted to the beautiful and flirtatious Belinha (Dolores del Río) in the audience. He leaves the bandstand to pursue her.
Doña Elena (Blanche Friderici), Belinha’s chaperone, is informed of this, and arranges for Roger and the band to be fired. But Roger pursues Belinha to Brazil, and organises an engagement for the band at the Hotel Atlântico in Rio de Janeiro, unaware that the hotel is owned by Belinha’s father (Walter Walker). Roger persuades Belinha to allow him to fly her there in his private plane, which runs into trouble inflight, forcing a landing on an apparently deserted island. Under the moonlight, she falls into his arms, while admitting to him that she is already engaged.
In Rio, Roger informs his good friend Julio (Raul Roulien) that he has fallen in love, but finds out that Belinha is engaged to Julio. During rehearsals for the Hotel’s opening (a brief bit of Astaire tap), Fred is told by police that the hotel lacks an entertainment license. When Roger spots a plane overhead, he comes up with the idea of strapping dancing girls to planes, with Fred leading the band and Honey and Julio leading the planes. The show is a great success and the hotel’s future guaranteed. Julio gives Belinha up to Roger while Fred and Honey celebrate.