Carlos Gardel’s unfinished projects and the letter that revealed his plans to return to Buenos Aires

Carlos Gardel’s unfinished projects and the letter that revealed his plans to return to Buenos Aires
Carlos Gardel’s unfinished projects and the letter that revealed his plans to return to Buenos Aires

Carlos Gardel at Paramount

It can well be stated that Carlos Gardel always planned his future and that this procedure was, to a large extent, a responsible part of its success. But, those great ideas that characterized him were usually held back by capital or, rather, by the lack of money. When at the end of 1933, in the midst of his success, he arrived in New York to perform a series of radio appearances on the NBChe had not yet managed to balance his finances and did not have large savings, which worried him, especially thinking about his mother, Berta Gardes.

By making his debut on the powerful New York station, Gardel gained strength thanks to the expertise acquired in the last years of his career, which made him understand that part of success was becoming a businessman, understanding how the film industry works and where it moves. But, once again, the lack of capital to support themselves and be able to choose the best opportunity was once again an impediment.

In a letter addressed to Armando Defino (administrator and organizer of his assets, who later became the executor) dated March 12, 1934, the singer explains that, from that moment, he established new work rules: “I don’t want you to be alarmed, because nothing has happened. My success has always been resounding although people still don’t know me here in person. Nobody has made any commercial proposal in two months, 300 dollars does not look like much, and to continue another two months I should have accepted a reduction of half and as you will understand I have not come to act bohemian… They assured me that in two or three weeks would sell me, but I think this has been too good for me to give up…”

His great difficulty was always money, although Gardel was clear about how much it was worth.. “I have observed and studied – the letter continues – that in this country you have to do what the great actors or starlets do and it is infallible: you have to get hooked on one of those managers around here, because they are the only ones who make money and they make it win. This is because they have contacts with all the big companies…”.

“Cuesta Abajo”, Gardel’s first American film, with a success that he would never have imagined and that had a profound impact on his personal life.

But Gardel knew that he could make a difference with cinema and that had been the leitmotiv for which he had agreed to travel to the United States. In the same letter, he adds: “In recent days there have been film developments, the Fox He is coming tomorrow Tuesday to have a meeting. It seems that a company wants to put capital in, and being the paramount distributor of my films, is asking you for U$50,000. They said no, but tomorrow she comes back with a proposal.” Finally, the Fox He returned with an offer that did not meet Gardel’s expectations and was rejected.

Days later the great offer of paramount, an event that Gardel tells Defino in a letter dated March 21, 1934. “And now the bombshell news, that as I always say: There is no evil that lasts a hundred years! And that one night ‘little star of my hope’ He announced to me that my time had come, and here I go to the point and the big national potato: this matter results in pesos, pretend that there are three stars who toiled five times in the National Grand Prix… I just signed a contract with Paramount with excellent conditions…”.

Gardel had not only negotiated excellent financial benefits, but also for the films to be produced through his own production company, the brand new “The Exito Productions INC”. This not only gave him full control of the script but also the production and hiring of the actors. Now, Gardel was already a businessman.

The business aspect was strengthened after the successful premiere of DownhillGardel’s first American film, with a success that he would never have imagined and that had a profound impact on his personal life. because that triumph reinforced his self-confidence and his business capacity, and thus convinced the directors of the paramount that with it they could generate a lot of money.

And that was confirmed with his second film, Tango on Broadwaywhich, thanks to the enormous impact obtained, activated at lightning speed the option to film two other productions, as agreed in the initial contract.

Gardel’s success and ability as a multidisciplinary man was so important that the paramount He agreed to all Gardel’s requests in terms of filming times and improvement of the cast. The possibility of filming two more films after the planned tour of Latin America was even left open.

Original albums of photographs from the films “Luces de Buenos Aires” and “Melodía de arrabal”. Paramount Pictures, Joinville, Paris (1932)

In a letter that he sent in response to the one that Armando Defino sent him, in which he tells him about the success of the films in Buenos Aires and Latin America, and after arriving in New York after a short and well-deserved vacation in France, Gardel told him He says on October 16, 1934: “I have just arrived and am pleasantly surprised by your two abundant and interesting letters. Of course these people want to make movies with me until the year 2000“If they continue giving money…”

Despite his achievements in the cinema and in his radio appearances in the NBC, the success was not yet complete. Gardel needed to learn English to continue growing artistically in the United States and mastering the language became essential. For this reason, the directors of the paramountlike those of the NBCthey asked him to sing in English, which represented a problem for him because learning the language was difficult for him.

Not having learned English did not stop him and he never stopped being enthusiastic about the success of his productions and began planning new film projects, but to do them in Argentina. He thought about calling Alfredo Le Pera and Terig Tuccihis closest collaborators.

“The projects we have for Buenos Aires,” he told his team, “are great, immense, apocalyptic. We will build film studios that will bear the pompous title: Carlos Gardel Film Studies…”, he wrote to Defino on October 5, 1934.

Carlos Gardel with his belongings in the house in the Abasto neighborhood. The love he had for the house was such that he engraved the address on a bracelet that he wore until the moment of his death. (Carlos Gardel House Museum Archive)

Gardel already had everything planned in his head: he thought of Le Pera as his plotter and author of the songs; He offered Terig Tucci the musical direction of his films and the musical orchestration. Tucci accepted gratefully: “Thank you Carlos, for the trust you place in me. I accept with all my heart and I feel extremely honored,” Cromos Magazine, Colombia, June 22, 1935, quotes that fragment.

The Thrush He knew that his future was in cinema, an industry that not only generated great income, but was also an activity that he greatly enjoyed. She confirmed it in an interview that he gave and that quotes the book “Gardel in New York”, by Tergi Tucci: “I plan to dedicate myself completely to cinema. It’s what I like the most and what amuses me. And I am singularly flattered to create some films with issues from my land, with gaucho themes….”.

Gardel was determined to shape a fortune that would allow him to live in peace and reduce the frenetic pace of his professional obligations. In a letter to the administrator of Defino dated June 4, 1935, he said: “My economic future is in the cinema and I see it more and more as I visit these countries where my films have broken all records…”

During the tour, he projected the possibility of ending his contract with the paramount and move forward with your own independent film project, maximizing your profits and freeing yourself from the economic and artistic restrictions of large companies. In another letter to Defino, sent from Barranquilla on June 20, 1935, he wrote: “About my film projects… it is time for them not to keep everything that my films produce…”.

Gardel/ Le Pera (January, 1935, in the film The Day You Love Me)

Before, on June 6, I told him about the Latin American tour I was doing: “It is being an unexpected success, so much so that country by country they extended the stay due to new functions that are added to the scheduled ones.” In another correspondence, upon seeing the success of the films on that tour, he wrote to the same recipient: “My film projects are naturally pending the decisions of paramount. If they decided to release me, as I wish with all my heart, we would have to get the film work back on track in a slightly or significantly more practical way than up to now. It is time for them not to keep everything that my films produce.”

After that tour, Gardel He planned to return to New York to fulfill film commitments -the filming of two new films- and then travel to Toulouse to look for his mother Berta and return to Buenos Aires for a series of radio auditions, sponsored by Cafiaspirinand that would allow him to earn a very high cache, unprecedented in Argentine radio.

It is evident that he had a natural intuition for business and knew what the next step in his career was. In his letters he expressed the need to produce films with better casts, have more time to develop scripts and greater creative freedom.

He had in mind to create a new film production company in Argentina, in partnership with the musician and businessman Francisco Canaro, to make films in Spanish, creating a filming studio similar to that of the paramount. Some of this had already been outlined in the making of a series of musical shorts in 1930, where Francisco Canaro participated in the production; They had also planned together to create a copyright protection entity for both music and movies. This would lead, shortly after, to the creation of SADAIC in 1936, with Canaro himself being its first president.

The last photo of Carlos Gardel.

Unfortunately, the tragedy of June 24, 1935 in Medellín cut short all these projects of the man who was born on December 11, 1890 and deprived his millions of admirers of the magnificent future works that Gardel and his collaborators would surely have created.

That June 24, 1935, the man died and the myth of a charismatic, talented, humble, generous artist dedicated to his art was born.who once said: “If I were to be born ten times and they asked me what I would like to be or do in life, I would only answer with one word: SING,” he remembers. Hispanic world, volume 18, numbers 844-869, 1928.

Argentina lost not only the artist who conquered the hearts of all Latin Americans and a large part of the world, but the possibility of a future in the cinematographic world that only those who knew Gardel could imagine.

* The author of the note is Executive Director of the Carlos Gardel International Foundation

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