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Early cinematic tangos: audiovisual culture and transnational film aesthetics

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This article looks at the audiovisual practices associated with the genre of the cinematic tango during the crucial first decade of sound motion pictures. I argue that two iconic figures closely associated with the tango's popularity, Carlos Gardel and Libertad Lamarque, also contributed to promoting through this musical film genre a form of cultural identification by local and transnational Spanish-speaking audiences. Gardel's tango films, shot in Paris and New York for Paramount Pictures, and their rival expressions produced in Argentina during the 1930s, mobilized similar intertextual strategies that exploited the spectacularization of sound and thereby contributed to the formation of a virtual Hispanic transnational community based on a shared auditory culture.

Keywords: Argentina; Carlos Gardel; Libertad Lamarque; melodrama; national cinema; tango

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Clark University.

Publication date: July 1, 2009

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