‘SHALL WE DANCE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Greatest Dancers on Top Form
‘Shall We Dance’ was the seventh film made featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I wouldn’t say it was the best Astaire/Rogers film ever made, but it had some really entertaining moments to enjoy.
I suppose my issue with the film comes from it being too all over the place. The song and dance numbers were fine, yet the set-up of Astaire and Rogers’ characters being married or not got clumsy.
The film has Fred Astaire star as Peter P. Peters – also known as Petrov. Honestly, Peter P. Peter could be another alternative version of Spider-Man. Like Peter B. Parker in the ‘Spider-Verse’ movie.
Ginger Rogers stars as Linda Keene. Petrov is a ballet dancer who prefers doing jazzy tap dancing whilst Linda is a famous tap dancer. Petrov wants to meet Linda, having fallen in love with her lately.
But Linda is getting tired of the romance behind-the-scenes when it shouldn’t be with her partners. Petrov tries to make an impression on Linda when he meets, but she’s far from impressed by him. 😀
It doesn’t help that Petrov made a fool of himself by sounding Russian after hearing her presume him to be a Russian. I’m not sure where that was going, but the point he tried to prove did not work.
Eventually, Petrov and Linda meet up on an ocean liner travelling from Paris to New York. During the voyage, Linda warms to Petrov and they start to fall in love with each other. Linda even has a doggie.
Very soon, a publicity stunt gets launched to ‘prove’ that Petrov and Linda are married. This was something Petrov tried to say to former dance partner Lady Denise as he was trying to get rid of her.
It’s also something Linda’s manager Arthur Miller tries to exploit as he doesn’t want her to get married to her fiancé Jim Montgomery. But will Petrov and Linda be closer than ever during the film?
‘Shall We Dance’ is notable for featuring music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin. In all fairness, the music is very good, especially some catchy numbers with Fred Astaire as well as him and Ginger.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers once again share great chemistry together. There’s always a formula where Ginger’s character doesn’t like Fred’s so much before they start falling in love with each other
This might get repetitive by this point in the movies featuring the dancing duo. I don’t believe all Astaire/Rogers films are like that, but it’s amazing how they can keep up with this formula in movies.
As well as Astaire and Rogers, this also features Edward Everett Horton as Jeffrey Baird, a bumbler who owns the ballet company that Petrov dances for. EEH always seems to be a bumbler for movies.
There’s also Eric Blore as Cecil Flintridge, who’s in charge of Petrov and Linda’s flats in New York. Eric Blore and Edward Everett Horton appear a lot in these Astaire/Rogers films and become double acts.
Just to sidetrack, here are a few favourite comedic moments. EEH’s character throws breakfast into the sea; he faints with no thud after seeing a newspaper; and he and Eric Blore ‘shush’ some people.
The film also has Jerome Cowan as Arthur Miller, Linda’s manager. Arthur’s sly as he tries to stop Linda getting married. He gets a dummy of Linda over Petrov whilst sleeping for fake publicity shots.
There’s also Ketti Gallian as Lady Denise Tarrington, Petrov’s former dancing partner. Lady Denise only appears in a few scenes to try and win Petrov back. Why Petrov doesn’t like her is not explored.
There’s William Brisbane as Jim Montgomery, Linda’s bumbling fiancé. I don’t think Jim was that good a match for Linda. He didn’t seem to compete much against Petrov and wasn’t angry so much.
The film also features Harriet Hoctor, a ballet soloist who performs with a female chorus for the film’s big production number at the end. This is when the ballet/song ‘Shall We Dance’ is performed.
Other musical numbers featured in this film are as follows. There’s ‘Slap That Bass’ where Fred Astaire performs with African-American musicians in the ocean liner’s engine room. It’s very unique.
Here are the musical numbers featuring Fred and Ginger. There’s ‘Walking the Dog’; ‘Beginner’s Luck’; ‘They All Laughed’; ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’ and ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’.
I did enjoy ‘Shall We Dance’. I wouldn’t call it a great musical comedy film with the plot being a little messy and all over the place with characters. But it is still good entertainment with Fred and Ginger.
The DVD special features are as follows. On the ‘Shall We Dance’ disc for ‘The Fred & Ginger Collection – Volume 1’ DVD box set, there’s a special introduction for the film by Fred Astaire’s daughter Ava Astaire McKenzie. There are also production notes by film historian Ken Barnes; cast and crew notes and a photo gallery for ‘Shall We Dance’.
On the ‘Shall We Dance’ disc in ‘Astaire and Rogers: The Complete Film Collection’ DVD box set, there’s a DVD audio commentary by songwriter Hugh Martin and pianist Kevin Cole. There’s also a featurette called ‘The Music of Shall We Dance’; the musical short ‘Sheik to Sheik’ and the classic cartoon ‘Toy Town Hall’.
‘Shall We Dance’ rating – 7/10
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