Film 35: Swing Time


Swing Time (1936) dir. George Stevens.  USA.

When you see anyone–an athlete, a musician, a dancer, a craftsman–doing something difficult and making it look easy and a joy, you feel enhanced. It is a victory for the human side, over the enemies of clumsiness, timidity and exhaustion. The cynical line on Astaire and Rogers was, “She gave him sex; he gave her class.” Actually, they both had class, and sex was never the point. The chemistry between Fred and Ginger was not simply erotic, but intellectual and physical: They were two thoroughbreds who could dance better than anyone else, and knew it. Astaire’s later dance partners danced in his spotlight, but Ginger Rogers, the dance critic Arlene Croce wrote, “shed her own light.”

— Roger Ebert

Abigail: This is just delightful.  From start to finish.  A total joy to watch.  The way Fred and Ginger move together is, as always, intoxicating, and this film marries plot, jokes, lyrics and dance into a cohesive and clear narrative.  This is just so great.  I would gladly have watched it again as soon as it was over.

Forrest:  This movie was amazing.  I loved every second of it — or nearly every second, setting aside a deeply unfortunate bit of blackface.  I can’t believe I’ve lived so much of my life without Fred and Ginger — it seems like a horrible waste.  As spectacular as “Top Hat” was, this was even better.  Everything sparkles: the surfaces, the clothes, the teeth, the dialogue, and especially, of course, the dancing.  I’ve never seen two humans move together so perfectly.  It’s incredibly sexy and unbearably romantic and warms you right from the inside.  I said it for “Top Hat,” but it bears repeating — Astaire and Rogers are to film as Wodehouse is to literature.  Their films create a perfect world in which you can always find solace.

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