SWING TIME (1936) B/W 105m dir: George Stevens
w/Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore, Helen Broderick, Eric Blore, Betty Furness, George Metaxa, Landers Stevens, John Harrington, Pierre Watkin
In this top-flight musical, Astaire plays a dancer with a yen for gambling who falls for Rogers. The film features the duo's most dazzling footwork as a team. With a phenomenal score by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields that includes "Waltz in Swing Time," "A Fine Romance," "Bojangles of Harlem," "Never Gonna Dance," as well as the Oscar-winning Best Song, "The Way You Look Tonight."
From The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book by Arlene Croce: "Swing Time is a movie about a myth, the myth of Fred and Ginger and the imaginary world of romance they live in. It is a world of nighttime frolics very much like Top Hat's, but it is also a middle-class, workaday, American world. It is top hats and empty pockets: Fred as a Depression dandy hopping a freight car, Ginger being sung to with soap in her hair. The antithetical strain runs through the picture, and, stilted and unsure of its effects as Swing Time often is, its conceits are so graceful, so alive to the mythical power of its subject, that it seems to me the true miracle film of the series, the one that as a follow-up to the unfollowable Top Hat shouldn't have worked but did. Swing Time is based on Top Hat, not as a remake, but as a jazz rhapsody might be based on a classic theme; its materials are romantic irony, contrast, the fantasy of things going in reverse. The snow of Swing Time is as magical as the rain of 'Isn't This a Lovely Day?' and the white hotels of Venice. If you put Top Hat in a glass ball like a paperweight and turned it upside down, it would be Swing Time. And at the end of Swing Time, the sun comes out through the falling snow."