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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the adaptations of Rio Rita. The first adaptation was released in 1929 and rereleased, due to its enormous popularity, in 1932; though largely faithful to the stage version, it contained numerous changes to the script and score, including the addition of a new number. In 1942, MGM bought the screen rights in order to readapt it into a vehicle for the celebrated comic team of Abbott and Costello. This was a much more liberal adaptation: only two of the original songs made it into the film, with a miscellany of other numbers being added, including a new song by Harburg and Arlen and a performance by Kathryn Grayson of the ‘Shadow Song’ from Meyerbeer’s Dinorah. As with The Desert Song, Nazi characters were added to the film from this era. On its own patriotic terms, the 1942 version served its purpose; audiences would be entertained by the antics of its stars but also be made aware of the secret foreign intruders who were threatening to overthrow the American way of life.

Keywords: Rio Rita, Abbott, Costello, Kathryn Grayson, Yip Harburg

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