Friday, January 15, 2021

O Pátio das Cantigas (1942)

 (This post is part of the Luso World Blogathon hosted by Crítica Retrô and Spellbound

O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) is a popular Portuguese comedy from the Forties. It proved to be very popular upon its initial release, so much so that the line "Evaristo, tens cá disto? ("Evaristo, do you have any of this?") even became a popular catchphrase in 1940s Portugal, much the same way "Do you feel lucky, punk?" from Dirty Harry (1971) became a popular catchphrase in the United States in the Seventies. O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) has remained highly regarded in Portugal ever since.

It was in 1933 that Estado Novo, the period of authoritarian rule in Portugal that lasted until 1974, began. During this period most motion pictures did take much in the way of chances. During the Thirties and Forties, most Portuguese films belonged to only a few genres, the most popular being comedies and historical dramas. Similarly, most movies avoided anything that could be construed as contradicting the ideology of Estado Novo. Conventional morality was emphasized and authority figures were respected. That having been said, it would be a mistake to think that O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) is a slight film with nothing in the way of depth, even though it is a comedy that contained nothing that would upset the Portuguese regime at the time.

Indeed, O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) runs a bit over two hours in length, with a somewhat episodic structure. Its title in English translates to "The Courtyard of Songs," and it centres on a relationships of people living in a Lisbon neighbourhood. Those relationships can sometimes be complicated. Young widow Rosa (Maria das Neves) finds herself at the middle of a romantic triangle with her suitors Narciso (Vasco Santana), a hard-working man her own age, and Evaristo (António Silva), the older, local grocer. Evaristo's daughter, Celeste (Laura Elves), is spoiled and self-centred. The young woman Suzana (Graça Maria) is in love Alfredo (Carlos Otero), whose brother Carlos (Antonio Vilar) has a flirtation with Suzana's sister Amália (Maria Paula).  Rufino (Francisco Ribeiro) is Narciso's partner when it comes to running the cafe. He is also a bit of an alcoholic and plays the guitar. O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) has a large cast of many characters, so these are not the only subplots in the film by any stretch of the imagination.

If O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) was a success upon its initial release and remains well-respected, it is perhaps because of the talent involved in making the film. O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) was directed by Ribeirinho (the birth name of Francisco Carlos Lopes Ribeiro), a well respected actor. Ribeirinho also appeared as the lead in the classic O Pai Tirano (1941), directed by his brother António Lopes Ribeiro. In O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) he played the drunk guitarist Rufino. António Lopes Ribeiro served as the producer on the movie. The writing credits on the film were shared by the two brothers, with actor Vasco Santana providing additional dialogue.  Both actors António Silva and Vasco Santana had long careers in the theatre before moving into the cinema.

While O Pátio das Cantigas (1942)  is not a musical, music plays a large role in the film. The movie is set during the popular festival of St. Anthony, when dancing and singing in the streets is not unknown. The sources for music are varied, from a ham radio to various musical instruments. So too are the genres of music, everything from opera to fado, a popular Portuguese music genre originating in the 19th Century. At one point Rufino even parodies popular Hollywood actress Carmen Miranda (who was born in Portugal, but grew up in Brazil). One has to suspect much of the success of O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) rests with the persistence of music in the film.

O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) was remade in 2015, although the remake failed to recapture the magic of the original. While O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) would remain the only film directed by Ribeirinho, he would appear as an actor in many more films. His brother, António Lopes Ribeiro, continued to direct films into the Fifties. Out of the films the two brothers made, O Pátio das Cantigas (1942) remains one of the best remembered. 



This is a very enjoyable film, with nice musical moments. I really like when all the characters try to be the first to tell the flower shop owner that her daughter has arrived.
Your review is great, and I’m glad you added a bit about the historical context to help people understand this moment in Portuguese cinema.
Thanks for taking part in the blogathon!

Silver Screenings said...

This sounds wonderful, and I see it's available on YouTube. Thanks for sharing this discovery with us.

Caftan Woman said...

I appreciate being introduced to this film. I need something "new."