Down Argentine Way Irving Cummings

It’s ballrooms and bad accents galore in the South American-themed musical that made Betty Grable’s name on screen. The "million-dollar legs” are attached to the role of a Yankee heiress who becomes interested in Argentine horse-breeder Don Ameche. Alas, Ameche’s father bears a grudge against Grable’s, keeping the two artificially separate. That they come together in the end is par for the course; what isn’t are the hilariously stereotyped supporting characters, either impossibly suave men with moustaches or stooped-over servants with the word "wily” stamped across their foreheads. There’s a little intrigue with the horses and whether Ameche’s papa will race one anointed by Grable but it doesn’t exactly hold you rapt in suspense; we know what we’re here for and it isn’t tears and broken dreams. But mostly there are some okay musical numbers with the likes of the dancing Nicholas Brothers and, in her first screen role, the incomparable Carmen Miranda. She only has two numbers and no bearing on the plot but she manages to blow the rest of the cast away with her aggressive charm and athletic facial expressions that exude fun in ways the rest of the production can’t imagine. Still, Grable earns her pay singing and dancing, Ameche is charismatic despite his shaky accent and the whole thing goes down easily, if somewhat forgettably. Extras include an excellent, informative commentary by film historian Sylvia Stoddard, who covers everything from explaining studio economics to the vagaries of Argentine railroads, an episode of A&E’s Biography featuring Grable’s turbulent life and many husbands, a photo gallery, liner notes by Stoddard and a collectible set of four lobby cards. (Fox)