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Carmen Miranda - Bananas Is My Business

4.5 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Few people know that movie star and gay icon Carmen Miranda was actually born in Portugal but moved to Rio de Janeiro as a girl in 1909. She was a determined, self-perpetuated creation--a master at promoting her public self, which "she wore like a mask that could not be penetrated." That she ultimately became the richest woman in America at one point in her career was a testament to her sheer will to succeed in show business. Carmen Miranda: Bananas Is My Business is a hit-and-miss, sometimes shabbily done "proto-documentary" about her childhood and stardom, enacted with the sort of faux seriousness that is at times embarrassingly inane. The real people in the film, including her cousin, actors Cesar Romero, Rita Moreno, and Alice Faye (who says simply, "She had magic"), and boyfriends from her youth ("She had eyes like the headlights on a car," rues one) paint a portrait of a woman who, though effervescent on the surface, was haunted by criticism from home after she became "Americanized" and who endured a cold, loveless, physically abusive marriage. Miranda emerges as a Hollywood victim, for although she had everything she wanted, she was never given the studio's blessing to escape from her image to pursue her true musical talent. Sleeping pills, depression, and electroshock therapy followed, further indicating an underlying misery despite Miranda's gleeful public expression that "bananas is my business." Yet she never despised her famous alter ego--a Latin spitfire bombshell who wore a fruit basket on her head. Her death by a heart attack, which followed a collapse while dancing with Jimmy Durante, is unfortunately mismanaged in the film by director Helena Solberg. Miranda, who is still remembered by millions, hardly merits a bad reenactment of her lonely demise. It's a shame this intriguing documentary (that is, when it sticks to the film clips and archival footage) feels compelled to inject such speculative contrivances, because Miranda's life was fascinating of its own accord. --Paula Nechak

Special Features

  • Production credits

Product Details

  • Actors: Helena Solberg, Eric Barreto, Cynthia Adler, Mario Cunha, Alice Faye
  • Directors: Helena Solberg
  • Writers: Helena Solberg
  • Producers: Helena Solberg, David Meyer
  • Format: Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: August 12, 1998
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 1572522720
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,504 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Carmen Miranda - Bananas Is My Business" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Helena Solberg takes Carmen Miranda fans where they've never gone before. This video is the most in depth bio I have ever seen on the "Little Girl" from Brazil. Not only does it delve into Miranda's life, but it goes into detail the abuse she took from the movie industry. Hollywood stereotyped Carmen to the point that it was impossible for her to find roles other than the "Rosita" and "Carmelta" characters she portrayed, and her native Brasil deemed her too "Americanized", almost to the point of disowning her. She was definitely a woman without a country."Bananas" also shows some of Miranda's classic numbers from the camp 20th Century Fox musicals. All in all, "Bananas Is My Business" is a detailed account of the life of this extraordinary talent....a "must see" for any Miranda fan.
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Format: DVD
I first saw this film when it was broadcast on the independent film show, P.O.V. (Point of View), on PBS back in 1995. I knew about as much about Carmen Miranda as the average Yanqui. (Even though I like to think I transcend this national limitation with my inherited sense of Latina soul by way of my Venezuelan father's DNA.) I wanted to know more about "The Lady with the Tutti Frutti Hat," this icon who represented so many things to so many people. To her people of Brazil, she was their Carmen, that young, vivacious and drop-dead gorgeous singer of sambas, forros and Brazilian popular music (Musica Popular do Brasil) in the 1940s. To the North American public, she was the Latin bombshell with a flare for flashy, bold and colorful "traditional" costumes, who emerged as part of "tropical" dance numbers in several popular, Hollywood musicals. It didn't matter to many what language she was singing in, nor the content of her songs. It was pure, exotic fluff to entertain and distract us from our troubles. That was what we were lead to believe, anyway.

The story behind Carmen Miranda, the young Brazilian woman, born in Portugal to Portuguese parents, is finally revealed in Helena Solberg's compelling, cautionary film, that is disclosed to us through an innovative and engaging series of archived films, fantasy re-enactments and personal accounts of people who knew the woman behind the bananas. Let me tell you, here and now, bananas weren't the ONLY thing that were her business. Don't let the song fool you! ("Bananas Is My Business") Carmen Miranda was actually born Maria de Carmen, to Portuguese parents who immigrated with their young, two-year old daughter to Brazil.
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Format: VHS Tape
Carmen Miranda possessed a singular ability to show people how to have fun; and this talent was so infectious that it was always magical to watch her on the screen I still enjoy movies that feature her today! This documentary about Carmen's life is rather well done; and the action moves along at a good pace.

We see many still photos of Carmen in her late teenage years; sometimes we also see an actress playing a very young Carmen on the beach mostly likely because no such footage exists. The footage of Carmen performing with her original Brazilian band is wonderful; and the brief remaining footage of a movie she did with her sister in Brazil is practically priceless.

As you may have guessed, interviews and footage are interspersed throughout the film. There's great footage from movies Carmen starred in; most notable of all this footage is the way over the top musical number by Busby Berkeley from the movie The Gang's All Here. Great!

The interviews we get are very well done. We get lots of insight and memories from Alice Faye, Cesar Romero, and a couple of songwriters for Carmen and her band in Brazil. Perhaps the best interviews are from Carmen's cousin and Carmen's sister who really knew her extremely well.

There is considerable time spent on how the Brazilian journalists accused Miranda of forgetting her country and becoming too Americanized. I'm sure this upset Carmen very badly.

One thing we do not get is any interview time with husband Dave Sebastian, who reportedly was very cruel to Carmen and even physically abusive. I think that the producers of this film wouldn't want to give him the chance to smear Carmen by interviewing him if indeed he was still living at the time this film was made.
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By A Customer on March 15, 2000
Format: DVD
What a great character she was. The Portuguese jealous she immigrated to Brazil when she was little more than a baby and the Brazilians not less envious because she emigrated to N. America. Carmen Miranda a combination of stamina and talent. The DVD is a collectors item with images of Rio de Janeiro at its very best.
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Carmen Miranda's million dollar smile and unforgetable image will continue for generations to remember the priceless contributions of a once unknown Brasilian woman to the rest of the world. Her natural abilities to entertain and gain the favor of Hollywood during the "middle ages" of segregationism and other phobias was an amazing triumphant of what appear impossible for a Latin American women and men. Kudos for her because she won fame and fortune in so little time. In this documentary, you will learn to appreciate and respect other people and cultures different than you; I hope...
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