Directed by: H.C. Potter
Edna May Oliver
Produced by: George Haight, Pandro S. Berman (Executive)
Written by: Irene Castle, Oscar Hammerstein II, Dorothy Yost, Richard Sherman
Choreographed by: Hermes Pan
Cinematography: Robert De Grasse
Words and Music by: Various, esp. Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby
Production Company: RKO
Premiere: New York, March 30, 1939
Synopsis (from VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever 2001): In this, their last film together for RKO, Astaire and Rogers portray the internationally successful ballroom dancers who achieved popularity in the early 1900s. Irene Castle served as technical advisor for the film and exasperated everyone by insisting that Ginger be a brunette. Still fun, vintage Fred and Ginger. (3 out of 4)
A good friend of mine adores this movie, and while I didn't at first, his strong opinions made me return to take a second look. While I don't share his passion, this movie is definitely one that grows on you with repeated viewings.
It is a very charming movie. The entire movie has an air of intimacy that we rarely feel in today's movies. We are given a little peek into a world created entirely by two people.
Ginger's performance, in particular, as she grows up from a young fresh faced girl to an experience, worldly wife, is excellent. This is her best dramatic performance in the series (as opposed to her best comedic performance barely a year before it. Did she get better as she went on? Kitty Foyle was just a year away!)
Everything works here in a way that never worked in any other Fred and Ginger movie- or for that matter, most Fred musicals. Strong plot, good score, good acting from both the principals and the supporting cast, as well as good chemistry, and great dancing. Much of this probably stems from the fact that they aren't playing themselves, for once, but other people in a real life story.
Then there is the final waltz at Louie's. The two of them are in a world of their own, gazing deep into each other's eyes as the music takes them away from the world, the war, and reality. Truly a magic moment. It was also the last dance filmed. The emotion captured onscreen is very real- everyone present knew it was the end of an era. All the people you see crowded in the sides- extras, or real RKO staff? We do know that they arrived en masse to watch the last dance.
Lastly, Fred gives one of his better dramatic performances. Since his was trying to showcase the Castles' dancing, very little of the dances were truly his, but he embellishes the basic material in little ways that stamp his mark on them impressively.
The final word:
|Dancing value: 7.5/10|
Acting value: 9.5/10
Entertainment value: 8.5/10
Overall Ranking: 16/31
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