Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Carefree (1938)

Here we are again, for the eighth Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, the 1938 musical/ screwball comedy Carefree.

As to the plot, we find Stephen Arden (Ralph Bellamy) coming to his psychiatrist friend Dr. Tony Flagg (Fred Astaire) because his fiancée Amanda Cooper (Ginger Rogers) keeps calling off their engagement, even though she says she does want to marry him.  Stephen convinces Amanda to see Dr. Flagg, and she ends up falling for him (particularly after she dreams of him), although she doesn’t quite want to tell him right away.  Now, after several experiments, including using an anesthetic on one occasion and hypnosis on another to convince her to marry Stephen, Dr. Flagg realizes that he loves Amanda, too.

Now that we are past the plot, we’ll get into what I think of the movie.  As an Astaire-Rogers movie, a lot of the fun is watching them dance together.  For me, this movie is even better since the music is provided by composer Irving Berlin, which includes the songs “Since They Turned Loch Lomond Into Swing,” “I Used To Be Colorblind,” “The Yam” and “Change Partners.”

Now, “Since They Turned Loch Lomond Into Swing” is Fred’s big solo dance for the movie.  Done at a golf range, he starts in mainly to impress Ginger Rogers’ character, by playing the harmonica.  After that, he proves that he can dance and play golf at the same time!

“I Used To Be Colorblind” is used for a dream sequence, which partners Fred and Ginger.  The sad part about this is that the original plan was to film this sequence in color, but it was so expensive to film anything in color at this time, that the higher-ups decided against it.  I don’t care, black and white or in color, this is still a fun dance.  And most of the dance itself is done in slow motion, which also allows particular emphasis for the kiss that ends the routine.  I’ve heard it said that this was their first onscreen romantic kiss (as opposed to happening offscreen, or whatever).

“The Yam” was an attempt at a new dance craze.  Much to my dismay, it failed.  I don’t really know why, because for me, it has always looked like SO MUCH FUN.  Sung by Ginger, with Fred joining her for the dance.

“Change Partners” is another romantic duet.  This time, Fred is “controlling” Ginger through hypnosis, started somehow by him singing it to her inside on the dance floor with everybody else.  I don’t really know how it is supposed to work, and I don’t really care, as it is a wonderful dance routine!

As I said before when I discussed the movie I Married A Witch, THIS is my favorite screwball comedy.  I’ll admit, maybe not everything in this movie makes sense.  I mean, I don’t understand how Fred’s character is supposed to be a successful psychiatrist, considering how much he seems to be keep mishandling everything with Ginger’s character.  My own opinion is that this is Ginger’s movie, as she proves herself very adept at screwball comedy, whether it be all the things she does while under the influence of the anesthetic, or for that matter, when she is still in a trance from being hypnotised.

This is one of the movies I have reviewed that I have a very high opinion of, and one I would definitely recommend if you get the chance to see it!  The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

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