Synopsis by Clarke Fountain
In the 1950s, a non-realistic and highly innovative filmmaking movement swept over the country of Brazil, which some might consider an unlikely spot for such invention. However, with a population of well over a hundred and fifty million, that country had (and has) a lively moviemaking business and also has many connoisseurs of films whose emphasis is artistic rather than commercial. This movie was the first part of a projected trilogy which included Rio Zona Norte, and it was made by Nelson Pereira dos Santos, who was considered to be a prime mover in the "Cinema Novo" movement. The third movie in the trilogy was never made. The story offers a varied portrait of the city of Rio de Janeiro at that time, organized around the life and work of five youthful peanut vendors who live in the surrounding slums (favelas). Each works in a different part of town: Quinta da Boa Vista, Copacabana Beach, Sugar Loaf Mountain, the soccer stadium and Corcovado Mountain. Reviewers of this film discerned the influence of Roberto Rossellini and the Italian neorealist school in its style. The most famous of the films to emerge from this filmmaking tradition was Black Orpheus, which is still widely watched and enjoyed today.