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In the 1946 musical comedy The Thrill of Brazil Keenan Wynn plays Steve Farraugh, a Broadway producer putting the finishing touches on a spectacular Broadway-bound show in Brazil. When his estranged wife Vicki (Evelyn Keyes) comes to town with divorce papers and a new fianc in tow (Allyn Joslyn), Steve pulls out all the stops to win her back. Ann Miller plays the supporting role of Linda Lorens, a star dancer who has her sights set on Steve.
The Thrill of Brazil is a loose adaptation of the famous rapid-fire 1928 play The Front Page written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The Front Page was adapted for the silver screen several times, most notably in 1931's The Front Page with Adolphe Menjou and Pat O'Brien and the 1940 classic His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. Columbia Studios simply changed the newsroom setting to the backstage world of show business and added singing and dancing.
For co-star Ann Miller, The Thrill of Brazil marked her final film at Columbia after being under contract to the studio for five years. The making of the film represented a stressful time for the famed tapper. She married first husband Reese Milner in the middle of shooting The Thrill of Brazil and returned to the set pregnant following a two week honeymoon. Her new husband was determined that she give up her acting career and walk off the film immediately, which would mean breaking her lucrative long-term contract with the studio. Miller insisted on completing the film, however, but promised to quit the business as soon as it was done.
Miller's pregnancy made shooting the film's splashy finale the most difficult part of making The Thrill of Brazil for her. "For this, I had to climb way up high on a big platform to dance," she explained in her 1972 autobiography Miller's High Life. "Ordinarily this wouldn't bother me but because of my pregnancy I was frightened that I would get dizzy and fall. I was so nervous about it that we had to do the scene over and over." When shooting was complete, Miller kept her promise to her husband and walked out on her contract with Columbia. Studio head Harry Cohn was furious and sued the couple for breach of contract. The case was settled out of court.
Despite Miller's difficulties, her spectacular dancing captures some of the film's best moments in numbers such as "The Custom House" and "Man Is Brother to a Mule." Other film highlights include routines by the elegant dancing team of Veloz and Yolanda and the vocal talents of Tito Guizar who performs "Copa-Cabana" and the exuberant title song.
Producers: Sydney Bidell, Allen Rivkin
Director: S. Sylvan Simon
Screenplay: Harry Clork, Devery Freeman, Allen Rivkin
Cinematography: Charles Lawton
Art Direction: Stephen Goosson, Van Nest Polglase, A. Leslie Thomas
Music: Leo Arnaud (uncredited)
Film Editing: Charles Nelson
Cast: Evelyn Keyes (Vicki Dean), Keenan Wynn (Steve Farraugh), Ann Miller (Linda Lorens), Allyn Joslyn (John Habour), Tito Guizar (Tito Guizar), Veloz (Veloz), Yolanda (Yolanda), Felix Bressart (Ludwig Kriegspiel), Sid Tomack (Irikie Bowers), Enric Madriguera and his Orchestra (Themselves)
by Andrea Passafiume