The movies of Canaro
rancisco Canaro's history as film producer was a succession of peaks and falls, an interesting love-hate relationship. Financially, he was always on the losing side or, at least, that was what the musician assured. Below we analyze the movies released by his Río de la Plata company. Its first hit achieved by Ídolos de la radio (Idols of the radio) could not foretell the unlucky series that would follow. Years after this artistic and commercial flaw, Canaro would say that “… sound movies were a complete failure for me, and they left me silent.” An irony of fate, only humor allowed him to define how his dreams had stumbled in a medium that was always hostile to him.
Ídolos de la radio (Idols of the radio) (1934)
At the beginning of 1934, Francisco Canaro, Jaime Yankelevich and Juan Cossio founded the Productora Cinematográfica Argentina Río de la Plata, under the artistic direction of Morera. The first thing they shot was this film (whose first title was Broadcasting and then a warehouse located on 518 Uruguay Street was used as a studio). It paved the way for a new subject matter in the Argentine cinema: the radio milieu as a generator of situations and as a excuse for the parade of famous artists. In spite of the rudimentary thing that it seems today, the film achieved a brilliant success and it was well sold in Spain, thanks to the administration of Canaro himself. Today it is distributed in mutilated copies in which the entire performance of Tita Merello is missing.
Por buen camino (On the right way) (1935)
The second movie had an initial impact that didn't continue in the following dates, and it ended up totally forgotten. It was an exaltation of sports (the following year the Olympics would be held). For this film, Canaro composed a march entitled Paso al deporte, with lyrics by Eduardo Ursuni, and the tango El que a hierro mata, with lyrics by Ivo Pelay.
Carlos Gardel's funeral rites (1936)
Documentary about the deathwatch and the funeral retinue that accompanied the remains of Gardel to the Cementerio del Oeste (western Cemetery), in Chacarita. It included scenes with the Canaro's orchestra.
Ya tiene comisario el pueblo (The town already
has a sheriff) (1936)
The original play was a boom since its presentation at the Teatro París, on Suipacha street. But it was adapted to the movies with certain clumsiness and, keeping in mind that the whole country knew the comedy by heart, the movie had scarce repercussion. Its allusions to the electoral fraud drew the attention of the critic Roland who had the kindness of speaking well of it. Thirty years later, Enrique Careers directed a remake with Niní Marshall and Ubaldo Martínez.
La muchacha del circo (The girl of the circus) (1937)
Based on the play Gran Circo Rivolta, premiered by the company Muiño-Alippi, the most expensive production in the company was carried out. It turned out as one of the worst movies in the history of the Argentine cinema; anodyne and bizarre and, without a doubt, Romero's poorest work. As a result of the box office failure the Yankelevich-Cossio-Canaro partnership was dismembered. The musician tried to sell the studio to Ángel Mentasti, owner of Argentina Sono Film; but the sudden death of Mentasti frustrated the operation. He also tried to team up with Romero but failed, and Canaro had to continue on his own.
Dos amigos y un amor (Two friends and one love) (1938)
“Neither better nor worse than a photographed radio soap opera”, Calki wrote. The presage could not be worse: Canaro, as producer, facing a discipline he didn't master; Demare, directing his first movie and hardly having a scarce experience as editor; Pepe Iglesias and Norma Castillo, in their film debuts. However, the dice were luckily tossed and the film was a remarkable box office success. They could hardly believe it.
Cantando llegó el amor (Love came singing) (1938)
After the oasis that Demare's movie meant, bad luck returned. This time they tried to make a musical comedy modeled after Cervantes' El celoso extremeño. The result: eighty five minutes of boredom. Fanny Navarro, who later would be one of the top local stars, in this —her third movie— hardly appears.
Canaro, in his memoirs, placed Turbión after Veinticuatro horas en libertad (Twenty-four hours at large), but the former was premiered before. For Turbión, Canaro and Manzi composed the rumba Salú... salú... and a “new dance” called Milongón. The movie deserves to be rated better: the bad commentaries that Canaro himself made determined that most of the critics had no good opinion of it, when in fact it was a remarkable police film, with commitment and well developed. Commercially, a failure.
Veinticuatro horas en libertad (Twenty-four hours at large) (1939)
The character of Niní Gambier was thought for another Niní: no one less than Niní Marshall. It could not be. However it was shot, and once it was finished they sought after some manager willing to premiere it. It could not be. On the verge of exasperation, Canaro decided to pay for a theater; at least somebody would go. But not even the ushers saw it. It could not be.
El diablo andaba en los choclos (The devil was among the corncobs) (1946)
After years of inactivity in film investments, Canaro reappeared as co-producer with Sandrini for an adaptation of an Orlando Aldama's play. In spite of the incredible international success that the film achieved, the company only covered the expenses. What happened? Because the Interamericana distributor had offered for the rights of exploitation some $350.000 and, before the shooting was finished, Canaro and Sandrini surrendered them for this figure thinking that the costs would only be $250.000. But it was a wrong deal: the expenses were $348.000 and the Interamericana obtained this way, by a proportionally minimum payment, an impressive gain. El diablo andaba en los choclos was one of the Argentine movies most successful in the box office, but except its distributors nobody got a coin. In Spain it was premiered under the title Mientras el cuerpo aguante (As long as my body stands it), something that Canaro surely thought while he made his balance sheet.
Con la música en el alma (With music in my soul) (1951)
At the Teatro Casino the musical comedy by Manzi, Bruno and De Bassi had been staged to a good acclaim since its premiere in 1949; Canaro, with certain naiveté, thought it was right to make a movie of it. Toscanito had been successful in a couple of films and here he repeated all his clichés; however, the audiences accepted him and he came out safe and sound. The movie was fairly successful, but the co-production intent with the company EFA didn't work and Canaro had to file a lawsuit to obtain the refund of the $400.000 invested. And it was the last attempt of Canaro to produce a movie: after this film, he decided to sell all that was left of the Río de la Plata company to Mr. Adolfo Wilson, of the Cinematográfica Terra.