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Mar 19, 2021

In Part 1 of our look at Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' cinematic pairings (part 2 is penciled in for January 2023), we discuss Mark Sandrich's The Gay Divorcee and Top Hat, William A. Seiter's Roberta, and George Stevens' Swing Time. What formula does Sandrich set up for the stars, and how do the other films acknowledge and/or depart from it? What does RKO contribute to the 30s musical? Why is Ginger so paranoid? Is Fred really more like the romantic heroine? What makes Edward Everett Horton sexually irresistible? Expect these and other searching questions to be pondered. 

Warning: in case anyone in the world doesn't know, Swing Time contains a blackface number. It's not minstrelsy, perhaps... but it might be something even worse. 


For further information, we recommend:

Arlene Croce’s The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book

The greatest studio documentary of them all: Hollywood – The Golden Years: The RKO Story (episode 2 is devoted to the Astaire/Rogers pictures)


Time Codes:

0h 01m 00s:      Preamble on the films  

0h 15m 17s:      The Gay Divorcee (1934) [dir. Mark Sandrich]

0h 57m 15 s:     Top Hat (1935) [dir. Mark Sandrich]

1h 29m 58s:      Roberta (1935) [dir. William A. Seiter]

1h 41m 35s:      Swing Time (1936) [dir. George Stevens]



* Marvel at our meticulously ridiculous Complete Viewing Schedule for the 2020s

*Intro Song: “Sunday” by Jean Goldkette Orchestra with the Keller Sisters (courtesy of The Internet Archive)

* Find Elise’s latest film piece on Billy Wilder and 1930s Romantic Comedy

*And Read lots of Elise’s Writing at Bright Wall/Dark RoomCléo, and Bright Lights.*

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