Oct 17, 2008

It's not a feud if one side has no idea why it's being shunned.

Down Argentine Way (1940)

Apparently I've expanded this blog to include musicals? Who knew that was likely?
Everyone goes south of the border in this comic tale of horse racing, with lots of romance and nightclubbing tossed in. Glenda wants to buy a horse from Ricardo. But because their families have been feuding for years, Ricardo's father refuses. But in true Romeo and Juliet fashion, the two fall in love.
So I'll say this upfront. If you don't like musicals, this isn't for you. In fact, I find most musicals pretty tedious, despite actively being included in these insane musical marathons my mother and sister held on a regular basis back when I was, oh, ten. So I've seen way more than I'd like to admit, and I liked more of them than I'd like to admit, but this in no way makes me a fan of Mamma Mia!, okay? I'll also admit that I can't even recap this movie as a musical, because I started to fast forward whenever a song or dance set up looked imminent. I just wasn't in the mood.

The story starts out in Argentina, where Don Ameche is Ricardo Quintana. He's observing his father's horses loading onto something that looks like a freight car with his dad. Ricardo doesn't know how to not smile, by the way. He's all smiles, all the time. Unless he's stumbled into some serious problems, but that happens, like, twice. Otherwise he's just the most happy-go-lucky individual in the history of ever was. Unfortunately for Ricardo, his father has a nemesis, and that nemesis has a last name and that last name is Crawford. All people with the last name Crawford are to be shunned, no matter their relation to the original Crawford who pissed him off so much. He so hates Crawfords that the very second he gets a wire from a Binnie Crawford about buying one of the horses he's shipping to New York, he freaks and has all the horses unloaded. They will not be going to New York! There are, like, tons of Crawfords there! And they might all be related! But then Ricardo essentially says, "Dude, no one is forcing you to sell a horse to a Crawford." Then his dad relents under this amazing wisdom and has the horses loaded back onto the freight car.

In New York, Ricardo jumps this pretty chestnut around a series of jumps. I guess back in 1940, show jumping was essentially speeding a horse around at a break neck gallop over a large field and then pointing them at large jumps made out of scrap pieces of timber all set up in a straight line. I don't know, but this is what they're doing. Glenda, our blond/blue-eyed heroine is there, eying the horse while her aunt, Binnie, is all "Are you looking at the man or the horse?" And Glenda's all about the horse, really. Sort of. She runs down to Ricardo later and insists on buying the horse for $5,000. Ricardo tells her the horse is actually $20,000, and Glenda persists with $5,000. Ricardo tries to get her up to $15,000, but because Glenda is blond and I guess her tenacity is mistaken for adorableness, he lets Glenda buy her for $5,000. $5,000 and a drink. Glenda goes with that and tells Ricardo to meet her, I don't know, somewhere rich and expensive looking. Westchester Club! That was it.

Here they are doing that thing where he grabs her upper arms and she lightly places her hands on his chest and then they mush their mouths together in a way that is not at all passionate, but supposedly was in 1940. By the way, that top is entirely beaded. It was actually kinda awesome. Only then she has to tell him her name. It is, dun dun dun, Crawford! Oh, how will Ricardo live with himself now that he's fallen into lust with a woman who has a last name that has something to do with his father's completely vague hatred for someone named Crawford? He reacts by getting all nervous, telling her he sold the horse to someone else, and jumping on the next plane he sees.

But Glenda isn't done yet. Oh no. She decides to go to Argentina with her aunt for seemingly no reason, but it becomes apparent that her sole reason was to go down there, find Ricardo, and then smack him. Nicely done, Glenda! If only we all could go to such lengths for the sole purpose of violence. Anyway, she gets there, somehow falls in with a tourist guide/escort, and randomly finds Ricardo in another fancy club, and smacks him. Then she runs out of there. Only then she somehow finds herself at Ricardo's dad's farm, because Binnie wants to look at horses. Binnie also, in true musical form, hooks up with the escort. So he's always around, being creepy. All of this is offset by the fact that the horses in this movie are gorgeous. Seriously, rent it just to look at them, because every single one I would want to hoard in my back yard.

So there's Glenda, hugging one the foals. Binnie goes off to talk to Ricardo's dad, and she spots this big chestnut named Furioso that she'd like to buy, only he's not for sale because Furioso is awesome. Then she tells Ricardo's dad her last name and he flips out and orders her off the property. She has no idea what she did wrong, so she zooms out of there and finds Glenda, who has somehow found Ricardo in the paddock with that foal. Apparently she got over him selling his horse to some other girl, because they're back to making out all 1940s style. Ricardo tells his dad that her last name is Cunningham and all is dandy until Ricardo finds out that one of the grooms is racing Furioso in random country races. This is so not going to fly because Furioso is a jumper and no one at their farm has raced a horse in 15 years back when Tempestad died in a race or something. But Furioso is so damn brilliant that Glenda and random groom convince Ricardo to train him to race in secret. So that's what they do. Only training for both racing and jumping makes Furioso go insane, and in his next jumping thing (which is being held at the same place as the New York jumping scene, which amused me) he goes bonkers and refuses to jump. Ricardo's dad is shamed! Then he finds out Glenda is a Crawford and all hell breaks loose.

But Furioso is still set to race, and they craft this elaborate plan to get Ricardo's dad to the track at the last second so he can see Furioso's brilliance, but not interfere with running him. Too bad he gets there early, totally pissed off, and refuses to let them race. Only the random groom tells him that in work outs, Furioso broke the world record for the mile. I don't know what the world record was, but Furioso's time was 1:36. Whatever. So dad gets all excited and decides to put $50,000 pesos on Furioso, and he sort of accidentally causes a late betting spree on the horse that knocks his odds down from ridiculously high to being the almost favorite. That is some betting spree. Only Binnie isn't thrilled about this for some reason and bets on someone else, and her creepy escort has something to do with fixing the race by replacing Furioso's jockey with a narcoleptic chauffeur. I don't know how that happened at all, nor is it at all possible. Anyway, I will now post my screencaps of the race.

And Furioso wins, despite doing so with a chauffeur, who manages to hang on the entire time. Then Glenda says that she found out why Ricardo's dad doesn't like the name Crawford. It's because her dad got all fresh with some girl that Ricardo's dad wanted to marry, only she didn't want to marry him, so Glenda's dad took her off to Capri or something. And they stayed in Capri a long time. Wink wink, nudge nudge. Capri was totally unacceptable! Ricardo's dad then gets over it and Glenda stays in Argentina and presumably marries Ricardo. We end with another round of dancing and singing and this:

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