Flying Down to Rio (1933)

Film Review


Release Date: 29 December, 1933

Studio: RKO

Director: Thornton Freeland

Starring: Dolores Del Rio, Gene Raymond, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers

Special Notes: TCM Classic Film Festival, 2013

This film was featured as part of the Essentials category at the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival. Films shown in the Essentials category at the festival are meant to demonstrate filmmaking at its highest level and films that have enduring value. Actress Cybill Shepard, who introduced the film, noted the handsome thirties styles seen in the art deco sets and the Walter Plunkett costumes. Shephard highlighted the difference in preferred female body form between the mid-thirties and today. The earlier era emphasized a curvier body with larger proportions than today's feminine ideal. Dolores del Rio's outfits, by famous costume designer Irene, emphasize her beautiful curvy body.


Dolores del Rio is engaged to Raul Roulien. Gene Raymond, pursuing her, intends to take her away from Roulien. Astaire and Rogers are entertainers in Raymond's band, which is headlining the entertainment in the new hotel built by del Rio’s father. The father's ability to pay for his loan is threatened when a syndicate prevents him from obtaining an entertainment license. People will not come to a hotel that lacks entertainment. Raymond fills the hotel with guests by staging a startling outdoor entertainment, beautiful young women flying (securely attached) on the wings of biplanes. Roulien, realizing that del Rio loves Raymond, breaks their engagement.


The film has a rather silly story, and some scenes are slowly paced and dull. Gene Raymond, young and handsome, has a pleasant personality. Dolores del Rio, although striking in appearance, is neither a strong nor distinctive actress. The film is of interest because it introduces Fred and Ginger as a team. They only have one dance, but they instantly mesh, their dancing so smooth and elegant so as to make their pairing completely natural. They could not have been more ideally suited if they had been specifically made for each other.