LGTTM: Blame it on Rio – Cape Fear

LGTTM: Blame it on Rio – Cape Fear


LGTTM: Blame it on Rio – Cape Fear

BLAME IT ON RIO (1984)                           

For those unfamiliar with this movie’s premise – Michael Caine and Joseph Bologna take their teenage daughters, Michelle Johnson and Demi Moore to Rio de Janeiro for a vacation. Caine’s marriage is struggling and his wife is vacationing somewhere else. Once in Rio, Michelle’s character comes onto Caine’s and he quickly succumbs to her charms. Her father finds out she is having an affair, but is unable to learn who her lover actually is., so he employs Caine to find out. There are other complications that emerge along the way as the plot unfolds.


Director Stanley Donen & his wife Yvette Mimieux

Special parental consent was required in order to allow the nude scenes featuring Michelle Johnson. She was not yet eighteen at the time they were filmed. In fact, she was only two months out of high school when she was cast as Jennifer Lyons in the picture, by director Stanley Donen. He and his then wife, actress Yvette Mimieux, first saw the French version of the story in Santa Monica, California, and decided it should be made in English. Michelle was totally unaware that her role would involve total nudity until after she had been cast. Her parents looked into Donen’s reputation and were convinced that he made ‘quality films’. ‘Girls, you know, if they’re attractive, most of them are not at all unhappy about being topless’, he reasoned. ‘They are quite beautiful and like to be admired.’ Incidentally, Yvette and Stanley would divorce a year after the movie’s release, in 1985.

‘I always wanted to have a career in film’, said Michelle, ‘and I wanted to make the right moves at the right time.’ Evidently, she must have decided that removing her clothes and standing around naked in front of the cast and mostly male crew, with hundreds of eyes staring at her naked body, was a price she was prepared to pay.

Blame it on Rio (1984) Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review - The Movie Elite

Michelle Johnson & Michael Caine

She had never heard of her co-star Michael Caine when she was invited to audition, so she called a friend who told her, ‘Oh, that’s that Kung Fu guy’. She had him mixed up with David Carradine. Michelle immediately went out and rented Alfie, Sleuth, and The Man Who Would be King. ‘I was very nervous at the audition, especially after seeing those movies’, she admitted. She was selected from over three hundred candidates for the role. During a TV interview around the time the film was released, the interviewer asked Michelle why she had been willing to go topless in the picture. Her response, ‘I felt that it was necessary to convey Rio.’ At least, she didn’t say that she felt it was ‘necessary to the plot!’

Demi Moore and Michelle Johnson Topless from Blame it on Rio - The Nip Slip

Michelle & Demi topless in Blame it on Rio

In her memoir, titled, Inside Out, co-star Demi Moore revealed that she ended up in bed with a member of the crew one night. She described him as ‘Peter, a young guy who was running the second unit camera on the movie’, He has since been tentatively identified as Peter Lyons Collister. In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Demi’s then husband, Freddy Moore, claimed that when his wife went on location in Brazil, she did much more than shoot scenes. ‘She wouldn’t let me go to Rio with her,’ he said. ‘And when I arrived two weeks later against her will, I found she had moved in with a Brazilian guy.’ This film was shot very early in Demi’s career, long before she had ‘enhancements’ to her breast-size.

Cape Fear (1962) - Posters — The Movie Database (TMDB)

CAPE FEAR (1962)                          

The financial failure of the 1962 version of Cape Fear ended Gregory Peck’s company, Melville Productions. Peck’s disillusionment with his co-star Robert Mitchum was soon became evident. ‘I had given him the role and had paid him a terrific amount of money, said Peck. ‘It was obvious he had the better role. I thought he would understand that, but he apparently thought he acted me off the screen. I didn’t think highly of him for that.’ At first Mitchum did not want to do the film, but finally relented after Peck and director J. Lee Thompson delivered a case of bourbon to his home. His reply was, ‘Okay, I’ve drunk your bourbon. I’m drunk. I’ll do it.’

The two stars were contrasting personalities who prepared for their tasks as actors in highly different ways. Peck always prepared meticulously for his roles, whilst Mitchum learned his lines only before a scene, relying upon his fantastic photographic memory to get him through.

Prior to the picture’s release, it underwent heavy censorship which may (or may not) have affected the overall impact of the movie at the box-office. Many key elements of the fight scenes were removed, and numerous implications that Cady (Mitchum’s character) planned to assault and then tortuously murder Peck’s character’s wife and daughter, were also removed and never restored; changes that certainly lessened the impact of the film on audiences. UK censor John Trevelyan argued that he made only fifteen cuts, whereas Thompson accused him of making between sixty and one hundred! Incidentally, all later UK video releases restored all the cinema cuts.

Mitchum had a real life aversion to Savannah, Georgia, which was intended to be the scene for the picture’s finale. As a teenager, he had been charged with vagrancy in Savannah and placed on a chain-gang there. Consequently, a number of the outdoor scenes, including the conflict on the houseboat at the end of the film, were shot at Ladd’s Marina in Stockton, California.

One of this writer’s pet hates involves someone looking though a pair of binoculars and seeing a sideways figure eight, depicting magnified images (one for each eyepiece). What one really sees, of course, is a single round magnified image, the same as when we look into the eyepiece of a telescope. This movie contains one of the few instances in which we see the correct image. Hallelujah!

Mitchum later declared that, during the final fight scene with Peck, Greg accidentally punched him for real. The ever professional Mitchum, aware that the blow was accidental, continued with the scene. Upon entering his trailer, however, he ‘literally collapsed’ due to the impact of the punch and said that he felt it for days afterwards. ‘I don’t feel sorry for anyone dumb enough who picks a fight with him (Peck),’ said Mitchum.

1 Comment

  1. Michelle & Demi look fantastic in Rio. Saw Michelle guest star in an episode of Tales From the Crypt where she played a cynical, hard-boiled and nasty woman. A very different character from her young, innocent and naive Rio role. She was most convincing in Crypt.

    Did not realize Peck had a poor relationship with Mitchum on Cape Fear. If Mitchum was impressed with Peck’s punching abilities, that had to be something indeed. Mitchum had quite the reputation as a very powerful man and quite the brawler. He didn’t care to start a fight, but if someone got on his case and pressed him, Bob could handle himself just fine.

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