They Met in Argentina

They Met in Argentina is a 1941 American film directed by Leslie Goodwins and Jack Hively for RKO Pictures. Hively had to come in and finish the picture after Goodwins was hospitalized for pneumonia. Maureen O'Hara plays an Argentinian who falls in love with a Texan (James Ellison), who is attempting to buy a racehorse from her father. It was one of a number of Hollywood films from the 1940s produced to reflect America's "Good Neighbor policy" towards Latin American countries. They Met in Argentina was not well received by audiences, critics, or the Argentine government.

They Met in Argentina
Directed byLeslie Goodwins
Jack Hively
Produced byLou Brock
Written byJerome Cady
Story byLou Brock
StarringMaureen O'Hara
James Ellison
Music byRodgers and Hart
CinematographyJ. Roy Hunt
Edited byDesmond Marquette
Release date
  • April 25, 1941 (1941-04-25)[1]
Running time
77 minutes
CountryUnited States


Tim Kelly (James Ellison) is a Texan in the oil business who travels to Argentina to bid for some land. When his bid is unsuccessful, he teams up with colleague Duke Ferrell (Buddy Ebsen) to buy their employer a successful racehorse, Lucero, in the hope that this will compensate for the failed bid. Tim falls in love with Lolita O'Shea (Maureen O'Hara), the daughter of the racehorse's owner, Don Enrique (Robert Barrat). Don Enrique is against selling Lucero, but when he realises his daughter is in love with Tim, he offers him the racehorse on the condition that he immediately returns to the USA. When Lolita realises Tim has left, she pursues him on horseback.[3]


Background and production

In the early 1940s, Hollywood studios produced a number of films which reflected America's "Good Neighbor policy" towards Latin America; They Met in Argentina was one of RKO Pictures' contributions. With these films set in Latin American countries, the studios hoped to both attract an audience in Latin America and to increase popular interest in the region among a North American audience. Other films of this nature included the Twentieth-Century Fox productions Down Argentine Way (1940) and Blood and Sand (1941).[4]

They Met in Argentina was based on a story by Lou Brock, who was also the film's producer. Brock approached Rodgers and Hart to score the production. The pair wrote 12 songs in total, although only 7 of them were included in the final cut.[5] The songs featured in the soundtrack are "You've Got the Best of Me", "North America Meets South America", "Amarillo", "Lolita", "Cutting the Cane", "Never Go To Argentina" and "Simpatica".[6] The dance sequences were choreographed by Frank Veloz.[7]

When Goodwins was hospitalized for pneumonia during production, RKO brought in veteran director Jack Hively to replace him and finish the film.[1]


Box office

The film fared poorly in cinemas, and made a loss of $270,000.[2]


The film received negative reviews from critics, with Robert Dana in the New York Herald Tribune describing it as "an American musical at its worst".[5] Film critic Leonard Maltin later described it as a "dismal musical".[3] The Argentine government spoke out against the distribution of the film in Latin America.[8]


  1. "They Met in Argentina: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 13, 2014.
  2. Jewell, Richard B. (2012). RKO Radio Pictures: A Titan Is Born. University of California Press. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-520-27178-4.
  3. "They Met in Argentina (1941) - Overview". TCM Movie Database. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  4. Schatz, Thomas (1999). Boom and Bust: American Cinema in the 1940s. University of California Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-520-22130-7.
  5. Nolan, Frederick W. (1995). Lorenz Hart: A Poet on Broadway. Oxford University Press. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-19-510289-5.
  6. Hemming, Roy (1999). The Melody Lingers on: The Great Songwriters and Their Movie Musicals. Newmarket Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-1-55704-380-1.
  7. Cullen, Frank (2007). Vaudeville, Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performers in America. Psychology Press. p. 1157. ISBN 978-0-415-93853-2.
  8. Block, Geoffrey (2006). The Richard Rodgers Reader. Oxford University Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-19-531343-7.
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