Swing Time (1936)
“America’s dazzling dancing stars explode in a glorious songburst of gayety and gladness!”
Director: George Stevens
Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore
Synopsis: A performer and gambler travels to New York City to raise the $25,000 he needs to marry his fiancÃ©e, only to become entangled with a beautiful aspiring dancer.
Fred Astaire made an unlikely leading man, but he had a grace about him that was unmatched. In Swing Time, his sixth movie and fifth leading role, he even makes the act of rolling dice graceful. The movie opens with Fred, playing a hoofer called Lucky Garnett, preparing for his wedding immediately after completing a show with his crew. However, Lucky’s mates don’t want him marrying some dame so con him into believing his trousers are hilariously out of fashion because they lack cuffs. As with most Astaire movies, then, reality is a distant and unfamiliar concept. With the country deep in depression, Lucky’s only problem is raising the $25,000 he needs to prove to the father of his jilted bride (Betty Furness) that he’s worthy of her.
Lucky travels to New York with his comedy sidekick Pop (Victor Moore) where he immediately runs into Penny Carroll (Ginger Rogers), a dance instructress who takes an immediate dislike to him. But, of course, leading ladies can’t dislike Fred for more than a few scenes, and it’s not long before they are dancing together. Rogers was by far the best of Astaire’s numerous dance partners, and they move like two independent parts of a single unit as they glide across the dance floor or engage in an energetic tap. The music to which they dance (and Astaire croons) is provided by Jerome Kern, and includes such familiar and timeless standards as The Way You Look Tonight, A Fine Romance and Never Gonna Dance, although perhaps the most impressive number features Astaire dancing alone — or more correctly with three giant silhouettes — to the less familiar Bojangles of Harlem.
(Reviewed 1st August 2013)