Film 32: Top Hat

Top Hat (1935) dir. Mark Sandrich. USA.

Because we are human, because we are bound by gravity and the limitations of our bodies, because we live in a world where the news is often bad and the prospects disturbing, there is a need for another world somewhere, a world where Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers live. Where everyone is a millionaire and hotel suites are the size of ballrooms and everything is creased, combed, brushed, shined, polished, powdered and expensive. Where you seem to find the happiness you seek, when you’re out together dancing cheek to cheek. It doesn’t even matter if you really find it, as long as you seem to find it, because appearances are everything in this world, and …

Let the rain pitter patter
But it really doesn’t matter
If the skies are gray.
Long as I can be with you,
It’s a lovely day.

— Roger Ebert

Abigail:  What a delightful followup to Nick and Nora Charles!  Fred and Ginger are a more remembered pair, and they are well used in this film.  Their dance in the gazebo in the rain is truly spectacular, and the follow up number in the ball room is perhaps even greater. This is not a great film, despite its great moments.  There are some glaring plot problems, and the final number is decidedly lame.  The overall effect is moving, however, and I truly enjoyed watching this movie.  I look forward to the other Astaire/Rodgers pairings on our docket.

Forrest:  Well this was delightful.  I’d never seen an Astaire/Rogers film before, and now I know what I’ve been missing.  In his essay on “The Thin Man,” Ebert said that Loy and Powell were to dialogue as Fred and Ginger were to dance, and having seen both films that analogy seems apt.  Both duos create a world of their own by their artistry (and of course that of their filmmakers).  What they do appears so effortless that it can only be achieved by a supreme effort.  It’s like a P.G. Wodehouse book — utterly apart from the dreary workaday world, set in a fairyland where it’s impossible to be melancholy.

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