Copacabana (1947 film)

Directed by Alfred E. Green
Produced by Sam Coslow
Written by Allen Boretz
Howard Harris
László Vadnay (story and screenplay)
Starring Groucho Marx
Carmen Miranda
Music by Edward Ward
Cinematography Bert Glennon
Edited by Philip Cahn
Beacon Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • May 30, 1947 (1947-05-30) (United States)
  • July 11, 1947 (1947-07-11) (New York City)
Running time
92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,300,000[1]
Box office $1,250,000[2]

Copacabana is a 1947 American musical comedy film directed by Alfred E. Green starring Groucho Marx and Carmen Miranda.

The film is a showcase for Miranda, who performs several numbers in her usual style, including a high-energy rendition of "Tico-Tico". Groucho, as Lionel, her fiance and agent, also sings a musical number, "Go West, Young Man", wearing his traditional greasepaint brows, mustache, and baggy suit. This was Groucho's first significant film appearance as a solo act, minus Harpo and Chico.

Anne (Gloria Jean), at the urging of Andy (Andy Russell), sings a song called "Stranger Things Have Happened", admitting her unrequited love for her employer, Steve (Steve Cochran).


Lionel Q. Devereaux and his alluring girlfriend, Brazilian singer Carmen Navarro, have been engaged for ten years. They are highly unsuccessful nightclub performers, due to Lionel's total lack of talent. They stay at an upscale hotel in New York. One day they get a twenty-four-hour notice to pay their bill, but needless to say they lack the funds to oblige. They hurriedly try to convince the big shot producer Steve Hunt to give Carmen a job at the Club Copacabana, and with the help of the easily convinced, gullible singer Andy Russell, posing as an agent, they achieve their goal to get her an audition.

When the producer asks Lionel and Russell whom else they represent, they invent out of thin air a veiled mysterious beauty from Paris and call her Fifi. They persuade Carmen to play the part of Fifi. The producer hires both ladies for the job, but Fifi is the new big sensation who gets mentioned in the press. Steve is very attracted to the girls, and to protect Carmen from the producer, Lionel tells him that he is engaged to be married to Carmen. Steve then turns to Fifi and asks her out instead. Desperate to solve the troublesome situation, Lionel asks Andy to play Fifi and go on a date with the producer, veiled as usual. Another complication to add to the plot is that Anne, Steve's secretary, is in love with the producer, and not very keen on him going on a date with Fifi.

Andy tries to fix up Steve and Anne, to save both himself and Carmen from discovery. He gets Anne to sing her feelings towards Steve, in an attempt to make him more attracted to and aware of her. The plan doesn't work, as Steve shows no interest in Anne.

A Hollywood movie producer, Anatole Murphy, takes an interest in Fifi, and makes a generous offer to Steve, to take over Lionel's contract for the sum of $100,000, which he refuses. At the same time an agent named Liggett persuades Lionel to sell Fifi's contract to him for the lesser sum of $5,000. Murphy in turn pays $100,000 to Liggett.

But Liggett becomes suspicious, since he sees how the veiled Fifi get into a taxi, and then Carmen comes out of it. Anne reveals to Carmen that the mysterious Fifi has made it impossible for her to get Steve's attention. To help Anne out, Lionel and Carmen stage a fight between Carmen and Fifi in Carmen's dressing room. The fight ends with Fifi disappearing. Lionel reports back to Steve that Fifi has been found dead in the river, but he also expresses his feeling of joy over "killing" her. The conversation is overheard, and he is blamed and arrested for Fifi's murder. Lionel tries to explain to the police during the investigation that he only made Fifi up.

In the meantime, Steve confesses to Anne that he only expressed an interest in Fifi because of his business, and that he is in love with Anne. Carmen enters the scene, dressed as Fifi, but removes her veil in front of everybody, showing that Carmen and Fifi are one and the same. The film producer Murphy offers to sign a contract with Carmen, to use her as an actor in his productions, and also wants to buy the story for a film. Lionel becomes involved in the following film productions, and gets credit for almost everything, from casting to storyline. The picture opens with a song about the Club Copacabana.[3]


The film's title was taken from Monte Proser's famous New York nightclub, the Copacabana, which was located at 10 East 60th St.

According to a news in The Hollywood Reporter (June 1944), independent producer Jack H. Skirball was originally set to make the picture, with assistance from Proser. At that same time, George Raft was announced as the film's possible lead. This was the first film in which Groucho Marx appeared without his brothers. It is also the first film in which Groucho appeared in his own mustache, rather than a greasepaint one. This was Carmen Miranda's first film after leaving Twentieth Century-Fox, the studio to which she had been under contract since 1940. The film includes cameo appearances by Broadway writers Abel Green (the editor of Variety), Louie Sobol (New York Journal-American), and Earl Wilson (New York Post). At the time of the production, Groucho Marx was married to Kay Gorcey, who had a small role in this film.

The Hollywood Reporter news add Chester Clute, Richard Elliott, Frank Scannell, Pierre Andre and Andrew Tombes to the cast, but their participation in the completed film has not been confirmed. Pierre Andre was signed to perform a specialty dance number with Dee Turnell, according to Hollywood Reporter.

In mid-Feb 1947, The Hollywood Reporter reported that producer Sam Coslow was considering reshooting scenes in which Miranda appears in a blonde wig, because of mail from Brazilian fans stating that they prefer her as a brunette. The reshot scenes were to be inserted in South American release prints only, according to the item.

As reported in Los Angeles Times on 14 July 1953, Murray P. Koch sued Coslow and George Frank for $80,000, money he claimed to have advanced Beacon to aid in the making of this film. Along with Walter Batchelor and David Hersh, both of whom were dead by the time the suit was filed, Frank and Coslow held a controlling interest in Beacon, which was deemed insolvent. The disposition of this lawsuit is not known. According to Hollywood Reporter, the film was obtained for re-release by Hal R. Makelim's Atlas Pictures Co. in Jan 1954. The film was also re-issued in July 1972.[4]


Kay Mavis, Groucho's then-wife, has a small role as a clerk from whom Groucho tries to mooch a cigar.


Critical reception

In its review of the film, AMC said "Groucho is unfortunately without his brothers (...) and the musical numbers consume much of the picture, and the latter half focuses on a musical sub-story love affair between two minor characters."[6]

"Carmen Miranda and Mr. Marx (...) Together they scream and grimace through a succession of topsy-turvy scenes, some of them mildly amusing and others relentlessly dull (...) With Groucho trying to do for three people and Miss Miranda imitating two, the impression is that Sam Coslow, the producer, has understaffed his film." said Bosley Crowther in his review to the New York Times.[7]


The film was released on DVD by Republic Pictures through Artisan Entertainment in 2003. In 2013, Olive Films released a new DVD and Blu-ray of the film.[8]


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