Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Shall We Dance (1937)

Seen: On dvd on my tv, from my personal collection.

I was pleased as punch to discover my new school's library has a small Ginger Rogers exhibition going on, and after walking through it I immediately needed some Fred and Ginger. In Shall We Dance, one of their many partnerships together, Fred Astaire plays an American dancer posing as Russian ballet superstar "Petrov", who falls in love with American tap dancer Linda Keene (Ginger Rogers). To win her over he follows her to America on a cruise ship, but when gossip-hungry reporters take a white lie and begin spreading rumors that they're secretly married, it kills their relationship before it even gets started. I guess they'll have to sing and dance about it until they figure things out.

Shall We Dance was always one of my favorites- a musical number on rollerskates, fake Russian accents, and a romance on a cruise ship; it's got it all! I love how Fred's character is moving from a strict ballet background into a freer, jazzier style, so several numbers have a nice blending of classical ballet and snazzy tap. I also like how Ginger does... everything. She's just amazing, you know? I definitely don't talk about her enough around here, but I have a serious crush on Ginger Rogers. She just brings this charm and wit to everything, plus she is of course a fantastic dancer and wears clothes incredibly well. I love me some Fred, don't get me wrong, but for me it's Ginger who imbues their films with an enjoyable dash of moxie.

Anyway, this movie is a fun time, even if it's pretty silly. I love the totally gay side characters played by stalwarts Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore, and the various wacky misunderstandings and oscillating romantic entanglements. Great Art Deco sets, beautiful costumes, the works. The score from George and Ira Gershwin is lovely, featuring "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off", a personal favorite. I also totally forgot that there is a dance scene with Fred and a group of African-American musicians, which isn't really a usual thing to see in a mainstream film of this time. So that's interesting.


PS Weird bit of trivia: This movie has eight different screenwriters. Eight.

Pair This Movie With: Oh, any other Fred and Ginger musical is fine, though I don't much care for Carefree.

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