SHALL WE DANCE (1937) B/W 109m dir: Mark Sandrich
w/Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore, Jerome Cowan, Ketti Gallian, William Brisbane, Harriet Hoctor, Ann Shoemaker, Ben Alexander
A revue artist and a ballet dancer are forced to pose as married. Fine musical comedy, with great dancing, tuneful George and Ira Gershwin songs including "They All Laughed," "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," and "They Can't Take That Away from Me."
From The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book by Arlene Croce: "Ballet was in the air. It had come from Broadway via Balanchine's choreography in On Your Toes, and to Hollywood via Nijinska's in Warner's A Midsummer Night's Dream and de Mille's in MGM's Romeo and Juliet. The plot of Shall We Dance cast Astaire as an American ballet star who dances under a Russian name and who falls in love with Astaire-style dancing and with a Ginger Rogers-style dancer. It projected the dualism of [George] Gershwin's own career (that is, it might have if it hadn't been weakened by casting in the ballet department), and it gave Astaire a motif for his dances. It also contained some imaginative devices that were quite as good as anything in Swing Time --- better, because they were visual: the flip book of pictures that dissolves into Rogers dancing and the lifesize wax model of Rogers that creates an unearthly effect in one or two scenes. These elements --- the ballet vs. musical comedy theme and the real vs. false Ginger theme --- are merely stated in the course of the plot; they aren't dramatized and they don't even become themes until the big production number at the end of the film makes them more riotously exciting than we can believe possible. It's as if we'd been walking over a minefield we didn't know was there. But, then, isn't that what the plot of a musical should be?"