TOP HAT (1935) B/W 99m dir: Mark Sandrich

w/Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Helen Broderick, Erik Rhodes, Eric Blore, Lucille Ball, Leonard Mudie, Edgar Norton, Gino Corrado

This film is usually regarded as the peak of the Astaire-Rogers dance team's movies. Portraying a romantically inclined stage star, Astaire pursues Rogers from London to the Riviera, even though she proves unreceptive after mistaking Fred for her best friend's husband. There's an abundance of riches here, but a favorite number is the courtship dance in the pavilion during a rainstorm, "Isn't This a Lovely Day?" Perfection, indeed.

From The Movie Guide: "The fourth pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and the first with a screenplay written specifically for them. TOP HAT is the quintessential Astaire-Rogers musical, complete with a silly plot, romance, dapper outfits, art deco sets, and plenty of wonderful songs and dance numbers. ...

"An effervescent musical that was the perfect panacea for Depression-era audiences, this wonderfully whimsical reworking of 1934's THE GAY DIVORCEE (whose leading players are reunited here) offers perhaps the most famous Astaire-Rogers duet, 'Cheek to Cheek,' wherein the dancers shift from effortless gliding to moves of dazzling exuberance. Despite the problems it caused in filming, La Ginger was absolutely right about not changing the famous feathered dress --- it does move beautifully, and she looks as light as a feather dancing in it. Built around Irving Berlin's hit-laden score, TOP HAT also boasts Astaire's brilliant, signature solo number, 'Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.' Fred and Ginger once again display their incredible rapport as actors as well as dancers, and the supporting cast is uniformly perfect, even though Rhodes's Italian caricature so offended Italian officials (and even the top guy, Mussolini himself), that TOP HAT, like THE GAY DIVORCEE (in which Rhodes played a similar character), was banned in Italy. With over $3 million in receipts, TOP HAT was RKO's biggest moneymaker of the decade. Tip top."

TOP HAT was nominated for three Oscars: Best Picture, Art Direction (Carroll Clark, Van Nest Polglase), and Song ("Cheek to Cheek," Irving Berlin).