Las luces de Buenos Aires (movie, 1931)

“Las luces de Buenos Aires” is a 1931 Paramount movie featuring Carlos Gardel and his tango “Tomo y obligo“. This is the first full-length sound film featuring Carlos Gardel. It was filmed in the Paramount’s Joinville studios near Paris and marks the beginning of Gardel’s international career.

Before “Las luces de Buenos Aires”, Carlos Gardel appeared in the silent movie “Flor de durazno” in 1917. He also produced 10 short musical films or videoclips in 1930.  After “Las luces de Buenos Aires” he was featured in other Paramount movies including “Melodía de arrabal” (1933), “Cuesta abajo” (1934),  “El tango en Broadway” (1934), “Tango bar” (1935) and “El día que me quieras” (1935).

In “Las luces de Buenos Aires”, Carlos Gardel plays the role of a ranch owner, the estanciero Anselmo Torres. Anselmo and his girlfriend Elvira (Sofía Bozán) were happy and in love until she goes one day to the city looking for fame and fortune as a singer. In Buenos Aires she is treated with little respect but she does her best  to play the game and to become a star. Heartbroken Anselmo comes to get her but she rejects him. He persists in his intentions of getting her back and she end up returning to the estancia. ​

The movie features many scenes of signing and dancing both of tango and folclore. It was premiered in Septiember 1931 in Buenos Aires movie theatres and had a wild success not only in Argentina but in other Hispanic countries. This is the movie that made Gardel an international star and promoted tango yet to another level of popularity.

The music was composed by Gerardo Matos Rodríguez and performed by Julio de Caro with Francisco de Caro and Pedro Laurenz. It features the tango “Tomo y obligo” which drove spectators wild in movie theatres across Latin America and Spain. It is said that people applauded so loudly at «Tomo y obligo» that the operators had to rewind the movie and play it over again.

“Las luces de Buenos Aires” translates to “The lights of Buenos Aires”. It was written by Luis Bayón Herrera and Manuel Romero.

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