Joel McCrea was originally slated for the role of Roger Bond.
Despite his obvious on-screen chemistry in dancing with Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire was reluctant to make a second movie with her. He had previously been part of a dance duo with his sister, Adele Astaire, but wanted to establish himself as a solo dancer. After Flying Down to Rio, Astaire sent a note to his agent about Rogers. "I don't mind making another picture with her, but as for this team idea, it's out! I've just managed to live down one partnership and I don't want to be bothered with any more." But when the critics praised the Astaire-Rogers pairing in "Rio," Astaire was persuaded, and he and Rogers soon made the second film in their partnership, _The Gay Divorcee (1934)_ (QV).
In the original prints, the "Orchids in the Moonlight" number was color tinted.
Originally conceived by RKO as a vehicle for Dolores del Rio, this film is most notable for its star-making pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The two relative unknowns smoked up the screen in a dance number called "The Carioca" that generated such a positive response form critics and fans that they were eventually reunited in nine subsequent films.
The airplane that the character Roger Bond flies is a Monocoupe 90, designed in 1930 by Don Luscombe. It was capable of speeds of up to 100 knots (115 MPH - a very high-performance airplane for its day) but in no way could it reach Haiti from Miami without many fuel stops along the way. (If at all.)
While looking through the window of a bakery shop in Rio, Ginger Rogers asks Fred Astaire, "Oh, Freddie. How do you ask for little tarts in Portuguese?" Fred replies, "Don't heckle me. Try the Culbertson System." This topical joke was funny for Depression-era movie audiences, for whom the game of Bridge was a major home pastime. The Culbertson System was a bidding strategy developed by Bridge champion Ely Culbertson. In the early 1930s, Culbertson became a celebrity by winning several international tournaments with his aggressive bidding system.