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The Best of the Astaire/Rogers Films
This is probably my Dad’s favourite film out of the Astaire/Rogers film collection. I mean, he’s got this movie both on DVD and Blu-ray. And I can’t deny that this film holds a certain appeal to me too.
‘Swing Time’ was made in 1936 and was a film directed by George Stevens. It featured music by Jerome Kern as well as songs by Dorothy Fields. And it has Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers galore. 😀
In the film, Fred Astaire plays a feckless gambler called Lucky…also known as John Garnett. He’s also a dancer, but his friends don’t approve of him getting married and delay him in missing the wedding.
This upsets his fiancée Betty Furness as Margaret as well as the father Landers Stevens as Judge Watson. Thankfully Lucky wins them around with an excuse and is forgiven for missing the wedding.
It was amusing the dog; the cat and even the picture of some old guy on the wall disapprove of him as well as Margaret and his father. But when all is forgiven; the dog, the cat and the picture like him.
Very soon, when Lucky and his friend Victor Moore as ‘Pop’ go to New York and earn money in the world, they soon run into Ginger Rogers as Penny. Penny is a dance school instructor in meeting her.
Lucky and Penny don’t hit it off well due to a misunderstanding (as is usually the case with these Astaire/Rogers films). But eventually, the two fall in love with each other despite misunderstandings.
The romantic comedy featured throughout the film can’t be silly but very charming as well. You root for Astaire and Rogers’ characters being together despite misunderstandings stirred between them.
It was fun to see how Fred Astaire’s Lucky tries to earn money but gambling a lot which often gets into trouble. He always does his best to win Penny back as he’s clearly falling for her during the film.
Ginger Rogers as Penny is equally fun to watch, especially when she misjudges Lucky for actions he’s done but with good intentions. That love scene where they kiss behind a door was funny and lovely.
Victor Moore as Pop provides the comic relief in the movie and being Fred Astaire’s foil and sidekick. Pop happens to be good at gambling just as Lucky is, but that too gets him into trouble in the movie.
The film also features Helen Broderick as Mabel Anderson, Penny’s best friend. Mabel’s a sharp mouth with a witty tongue about her. She also forms a bond with Victor Moore’s Pop in the movie. 🙂
There’s also Eric Blore, who appears quite often in Astaire/Rogers romantic comedies, as Mr. Gordon. He’s Penny and Mabel Anderson’s boss at the dance school and he constantly fires them. 🙂
Betty Furness as Margaret Watson, Lucky’s fiancée is a pretty young girl who eventually doesn’t love Lucky after all. This happens when she visits Lucky in New York and tells him she loves someone else.
The film also features Georges Metaxa as Ricardo Romero, a musical conductor who loves Penny and refuses to play for her and Lucky dancing since he’s totally jealous. He’s quite a jerk in this film really.
There are a lot of moments of comedic gold to be featured throughout this film. This includes the cufflinks on the trousers moments for Lucky at the beginning and for Ricardo at the film’s conclusion.
The musical numbers to be featured in this film are as follows. There’s ‘Pick Yourself Up’, ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ which won an Oscar, ‘A Fine Romance’ and ‘Never Gonna Dance’. They are catchy!
The song ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ has become one of the best well-known songs from ‘Swing Time’. To prove that, it even featured in the ‘Star Trek: DS9’ series finale – ‘What You Leave Behind’.
The film also features a dance number with Fred Astaire called ‘Bojangles of Harlem’. This does have Fred Astaire doing a black-face number, but that doesn’t bother me so much since it was of its time.
The dancing between Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers is very good. The two are at the height of their popularity when it comes to doing dancing numbers that can often be quite light-hearted or sombre.
The film’s climax is very funny with Ricardo Romero not able to hold his trousers up and that there isn’t going to be a wedding. I’ve also noticed that it snows a lot in the film. Is it Christmas time here?
‘Swing Time’ is definitely one of the finest Astaire/Rogers musical romantic comedies ever made. I enjoy it seeing it whenever my Dad puts it on DVD or Blu-ray. I’m very sure you’ll enjoy this film too.
The DVD special features are as follows. On the ‘Swing Time’ disc in ‘Astaire and Rogers: The Complete Film Collection’ DVD box set, there’s a DVD audio commentary by John Mueller who is the author of ‘Astaire Dancing’. There’s also a featurette called ‘The Swing of Things: Swing Time Step by Step’; the musical short ‘Hotel a la Swing’; the classic cartoon ‘Bingo Crosbyana’ and a theatrical trailer for the film.
The Blu-ray special features are as follows. On ‘The Criterion Collection’ Blu-ray edition of ‘Swing Time’, there’s the DVD audio commentary by John Mueller as well as a 2K digital restoration of the movie with uncompressed monaural soundtrack and archival interviews with Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and choreographer Hermes Pan. There’s an interview with George Stevens Jr., the ‘In Full Swing’ documentary and an essay by critic Imogen Sara Smith.
‘Swing Time’ rating – 9/10
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