The next film we'll be watching is Top Hat, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Not for nothing, but...I bet there'll be dancing.
Score one for the film major over here.
Jerry is a hoofer, a dancing star of the latest show on the West End, which is being produced by a close friend and millionaire, Horace Hardwick. Hardwick's wife wants them to fly out to Italy for the weekend so she can play Yente and introduce Jerry to one of her friends, but Jerry refuses...until he realizes that she's the girl of his dreams. The girl that he met one night by accidentally tap dancing up a storm on her ceiling, the girl he kidnapped while she was on her way to the stables, the girl he trapped in a gazebo during a thunderstorm when she had no means of escape.
I should probably take this moment to make sure everyone's aware that Jerry is not a serial killer. I know it might seem like that from his actions in the movie, but I promise, he's just smitten.
But anyway, this girl (whose name is Dale Tremont) thinks that Jerry is actually Horace Hardwick, her friend's husband. So when he keeps chasing after her, she's naturally upset...most girls don't like being in the position of accidentally falling in love with their friend's husband.
This whole mistaken identity thing goes on for far, far longer than I can reasonably allow. My suspension of disbelief is packing its t-shirts and underthings into a worn old suitcase, vowing never to return again and that it really means it this time...but then there's a dance number and we both stare at the TV slack-jawed, wishing that we didn't have like eight left feet between the two of us.
So Dale decides that since the guy she likes is already married, the natural course of action is for her to...marry Mr Italian Stereotype? Luckily, however, Horace's manservant had the foresight to pose as a clergyman (isn't that, like, a felony?) and conduct a pretend marriage between Dale and Mr Italian Stereotype.
I know. I know.
- This isn't, like, specific to this movie or anything, but did no one ever tell RKO how ridiculously annoying their intro sequence was? No wonder they went out of business.
- Are all old-timey gentlemen's clubs like libraries? Why are they all shushing people? I really imagine them with raucous card games, cigars, and dancing girls. But LOL at Fred Astaire tap dancing his way out of the room, making a racket.
- Fred Astaire is an amazing dancer. In related news, the sky is blue, the Pope is Catholic, and Rosebud is a sled representing the innocence of childhood.
- So Fred steals a horse-drawn cab. But what happened to the cabbie? Didn't he report it missing? So, whenever they pull crazy stunts like this in romantic comedies, I always remain flummoxed at the total lack of negative repercussions. In my version of this movie, Fred's serving 3-5 for Grand Theft Horse and Buggy.
- In "Isn't This a Lovely Day?" Fred's basically like, "Yes! A thunderstorm! Now you can't run away from me!"
- I am in love with the melodramatic Italian. I would like to pay him to follow me around and get indignant on my behalf. And to offer to kill people for me, of course. BRB, pausing the movie to check on IMDB to see if he's really Italian. OK...so this guy was born in El Reno, Indian Territory. That's how long ago he was born...Oklahoma was still called Indian Territory. I am far too amused by this.
- 1930s romantic comedies have led me to develop a theory about life before television. People need entertainment. And before they had The Simpsons or, you know, Touched by an Angel or whatever, they had to make their own fun. By weaving intricate webs of deception, leading to overcomplicated plots and continual misunderstandings. And mistaken identities. Oh, the mistaken identities.
- Is it bad that in the Cheek to Cheek dance number, I'm completely preoccupied with watching the ostrich feathers fall off her dress?
- Sweetheart, you probably shouldn't marry the flamboyant fashion designer. This is like Gaydar 101, come on. Especially not if your response to his proposal is, "I'll marry you if you really want me to."
- Horace and Madge are probably one of my favorite couples. Ever.
So that's Top Hat. And if you're watching it for the dancing, you're golden. If you're watching it for hilarious secondary characters or the comic mishaps, I think you're in a safe place. If you're watching it for the romance...well then we might be in trouble. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers may be great dancing together, but I really have trouble seeing an romantic or sexual chemistry between them. I think Fred does a good job bringing personality to his role and you can tell he has fun with it. Curiously enough, I much prefer Ginger Rogers when she's allowed to be funny, like in The Major and the Minor, even though she doesn't really dance much in that at all.
Overall, I would say that there's a lot of individual aspects of the film that I enjoy, but when you add it all together it just doesn't work that well for me as a romantic comedy. There's just too many points when something should have happened to make the misunderstanding clear, and the story suffers for it. And unfortunately, there's not much of payoff with the romance between Fred and Ginger...at no point do I really believe that she's in love with him.
I do have to say though, after all is said and done, I really just want to give poor blundering Horace a hug. What a woobie.
Thanks for reading, and come back next time!