Not too much here, even for fans of Basil Rathbone
John Brahm's Rio is often cited as an early (1939) precursor of what would become, a few years later, film noir. But it doesn't have a great deal going for it, though Brahm later did creditable work in the cycle (The Brasher Doubloon, Hangover Square, The Locket). Basil Rathbone, best known of course as Sherlock Holmes, puts aside his deerstalker's cap and meerschaum pipe to portray a swindling international financier who, along with his songstress wife (Sigrid Gurie, whoever she was), seem to be the toast of le tout Paris. Alas, he's arrested and sent to rot in one of those French-colonial penal colonies off the coast of South America (which probably never existed but is conveniently close to Rio de Janeiro). His wife sticks by him for some reason and journeys to Brazil, though she's sorely tempted by Robert Cummings as an engineer fallen into hard times and the bottle. Rathbone, meanwhile, murderously escapes to Rio.... The plotline lacks tension and, save for Rathbone's Sten-gun elocution, there's not much acting to savor either -- though Gurie sings a few songs in decadent nightclub settings. Some viewers might be happy to hear them.
- Aug 27, 2001
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