Jan 8, 2011

Top Hat (1935) - oh Fred, oh Ginger!

directed by Mark Sandrich / starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Roberts, Edward Everett Horton, Erik Rhodes

Believe it or not, this was the first Fred & Ginger film I ever saw. Crazy, right? Not really, knowing my history of avoiding everything made before the 90's, and only in the recent years beginning to open my eyes and see that black and white might not always mean deadly dull. (I'm still not completely enlightened, but getting there, alright...)

So, Top Hat. It might have been my first Fred & Ginger film, but the two names are not so easily avoided (from the slimy creatures in Splice to Neil Patrick Harris's opening number at the 2010 Oscar, they just keep coming up - always together, they're like a brand name). Nor are the famous musical numbers. The "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" number looked familiar not only from all the pictures I'd seen, but also from a clip shown in Billy Elliot. And the "Cheek to Cheek" number made me unappropriately sad because I associated it with The Green Mile. (Now I can always feel an inch more knowledgeable when I watch those movies, knowing where the clips are from. I'll be holding my breath and praying someone will ask and I get to be wise for once. Haha.) (I have a sneaky feeling this might be one of those days when I use a lot of brackets to babble about irrelevant things.) Might not even need brackets.

Okay then. The story of Top Hat follows quite a simple pattern: Boy meet a girl. Girl thinks boy is someone he is not. Boy finds girl charming. Girl finds boy annoying. Boy gets girl to dance and sing with him. Girl begins to like boy. Problems arising from the misunderstanding make girl despise boy. Boy doesn't get it. And so on. Old pattern (suppose it wasn't that old in 1935, though) maybe, but it's always a lot of fun when properly made.

Fres Astaire charmed me the moment he appeared on the screen, and no wonder - he really is the essence of charming, isn't he? With that boyish presence and those twinkling eyes... Oh and the dancing. I might have mentioned this before after watching films with awesome dancing, but I once again regret I never took up dancing. I wonder if there are dancing courses for incompetent but very eager people, who have previously specialized in swaying and jumping in front of the mirror to ABBA (possibly when taking a break from cooking or cleaning) and embarrasing themselves in nightclubs. And not just any course, but one where they guarantee you'll move like Fred Astaire (or Ginger... Ginger works just as well) by the end of the course, or you'll get your money back.

... ANYWAY. I guess I was right about this being another day of irrelevancies. Oh well, I kind of like these days. Just pure stream of consciousness! ...Which reminds me of James Joyce, which tempts me to start babbling about a presumably horrible course that begins on Monday, but I hold myself back, for everyone's sake.

Since I seem to have totally lost the track of my thoughts, here's a summary of all the things I was supposed to say: Top Hat was an utterly charming film. It even made me laugh aloud (though I think it's was merely because I was sick, I rarely laugh aloud when I'm watching a film alone and the joke wasn't even that funny. (I'm finally feeling better, by the way. My nose still runs like an endless waterfall, but at least I feel lively enough to do something other than lying down)). The dancing was brilliant, as I have already expressed (between the lines, maybe, but still), and the way that gorgeous dress of Ginger's moved during a lift in "Cheek to Cheek" actually made me gasp. And I'd like to think this wasn't only due to my sickness, and thus lower defencies, but also because it looked so freaking marvelous.

Without further comments or irrelevances, I'll just finally say that I liked the film, and if there's any other Fred & Ginger movie you'd like to recommend, I'm listening. Though I guess Top Hat is considered 'the best'.

Sorry and goodnight.

"In dealing with a girl or horse, one just lets nature take its course."


Anonymous said...

I am not surprised at your reaction to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Top Hat is infectiously wonderful. Some films to follow should be: Swing Time, The Gay Divorcee, Shall We Dance, Follow the Fleet, Roberta and Carefree. These are the cream of the crop. The dancing in all will surely take your breath away. There is also a later film by these two, in color, called The Barclays of Broadway-not as good as the others, but still excellent entertainment. Enjoy!

Eeva said...

Thanks for the tips! I'll add those to my ever-growing must see list...