Film Legends Of Yesteryear: Screen Team & “Screen Team Of The Month (July 2022)” Featuring Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers in… Top Hat (1935)

Well, we’ve had one solo film each for July’s Screen Team Of The Month (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), so that means that we need to finish the month off with one of their team ups! In this case, we’re going with their 1935 classic Top Hat!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Under The Counter Spy (1954)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 22 seconds)

A dangerous criminal called “The Bat” has stolen a secret formula, but has left the bottle in Woody Woodpecker’s house while evading the police. Woody mistakes the bottle for his tonic, and finds himself supercharged as he goes after “The Bat!” This one was apparently a spoof of Dragnet (which I’ve never seen but at least have some knowledge of), which makes it somewhat entertaining (probably even more so if you know the source material). Much of the humor is derived from the drained Woody drinking the tonic and then destroying everything with a mere touch. Of course, when “The Bat” goes after Woody while he is supercharged, “The Bat’s” foul deeds backfire on him! And I can’t deny that the final joke really makes this one! After being slightly disappointed with the previous few Woody Woodpecker cartoons included in the Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection, this one was a nice and hilarious return to form (without Woody having to be an obnoxious character) that I wouldn’t mind revisiting!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Watch The Birdie (1935)

(Available as an extra on the Top Hat DVD from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 18 minutes, 16 seconds)

Practical joker Bob (Bob Hope) wants to marry Dorothy Ripley (Nell O’Day). However, he goes too far with one of his jokes, and her father (George Watts) refuses to let them marry. This one is fairly entertaining, mainly as an early Bob Hope appearance. The various pranks he plays (and those played on him) are certainly a lot of this short’s humor (but, of course, Bob still has a few quips of his own). There’s also some extra fun with a quick appearance of Pete the Dog (of The Little Rascals fame). It’s not great, but I enjoy it enough that I don’t mind seeing it periodically.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Page Miss Glory (1936)

(Available as an extra on the Top Hat DVD from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 7 minutes, 43 seconds)

A bellhop at a hotel in a small country town awaits the arrival of a big star, Miss Glory. While he waits, he falls asleep and dreams of being a bellhop in a big city hotel, where he has to page Miss Glory. This one was admittedly entertaining. There’s not much story to it, but who needs it when there’s some fun music written by Harry Warren and Al Dubin. It’s an early Tex Avery cartoon, and while it’s not quite as wild as some of his later stuff, it’s good enough to be memorable. I certainly know I wouldn’t mind seeing it again and again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton) is producing a show in London featuring the American star Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire). One time, when Horace asks Jerry to stay overnight at his hotel room to help keep the peace between Horace and his valet, Bates (Eric Blore), Jerry starts madly dancing around the room. His dancing disturbs the sleep of Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers), who is occupying the room beneath them. When she comes up to complain (while Horace is away), Jerry becomes instantly smitten with her, and tries to go out with her. At first, she resists him, but she starts coming around to him. Their mutual attraction is short-lived, however, as various circumstances lead Dale to believe that Jerry (who had never introduced himself to her) is Horace Hardwick, who is married to her friend Madge (Helen Broderick)! Stunned and angry, Dale decides to leave London with her dressmaker, Alberto Beddini (Erik Rhodes), and go to Venice, Italy, where Madge is currently staying in order to warn her about “Horace’s” flirtations. Saddened by Dale’s departure, Jerry goes on with the show. When he learns from Horace backstage via telegram that Madge had invited them to go to Italy to meet her friend, Dale Tremont (since she was trying to set up Jerry and Dale as a couple), Jerry tells Horace to charter them a plane to Italy immediately. Meanwhile, in Italy, Dale tells Madge about “Horace” flirting with her, but Madge seems to take it in stride as being something in the norm for her husband. When Jerry and Horace arrive, Jerry keeps trying to see Dale, but is mystified as to why she is being so standoffish. At the same time, Horace is threatened by Alberto and is dealing with his wife being suspicious of him (but he assumes it’s because she heard about another accidental affair of his). When Jerry tries to propose to Dale, she slaps him, and later agrees to marry Alberto in the hopes that “Horace” will finally leave her alone. Will they be able to figure out the truth of what is going on, or will Dale be stuck married to a man that she doesn’t love?

Supposedly, the film was based on the 1911 play The Girl Who Dared by Alexander Faragó and Aladar Laszlo, but, from what I’ve read, the only aspect of the play retained for the film was the moment when Fred Astaire’s Jerry had to carry Horace’s (Edward Everett Horton) briefcase (which was one of the central moments that helped with the mistaken identity plot). More comparisons are generally made to the previous year’s The Gay Divorcee, in between the similar plot and (almost) identical cast (with Helen Broderick in Top Hat instead of Alice Brady). And it’s hard not to make that comparison, especially since Dwight Taylor, the author of the original play The Gay Divorce, was brought in to develop the story for Top Hat. However, Fred Astaire had some complaints about the initial script, including the idea that it too closely resembled The Gay Divorcee, and Allan Scott was brought in to do some rewrites (and yet, all these years later, the final film still resembles The Gay Divorcee in the minds of many). Irving Berlin was brought in to write the score, with the five songs that stayed in becoming hits at one time or another. Since Fred Astaire was mainly devoting all his time to the movies he was making with Ginger, he worked on most of the choreography with Hermes Pan (with Hermes Pan usually playing Ginger’s part), and they would show Ginger (who was still doing other films besides those with Fred) the choreography when they had it done. Top Hat would end up being a big hit with audiences, becoming the second highest grossing film of 1935 (behind Mutiny On The Bounty), and the highest grossing film in the Astaire/Rogers series. It would also be nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Original Song (Irving Berlin for “Cheek to Cheek”), Dance Direction (Hermes Pan for “Piccolino” and “Top Hat”) and Best Art Direction (Carroll Clark and Van Nest Polglase) (and regretfully losing them all).

Top Hat was the second Astaire-Rogers film that I saw (following 1949’s The Barkley’s Of Broadway, which I didn’t take to immediately), and it’s since become my favorite film in the series! Personally, Irving Berlin’s music is part of the film’s appeal for me, and I consider the score to be his best (I think some of the other musicals that used his music were better, but I like this score the best). All five songs are great fun (and easily get stuck in my head whenever I watch this movie)! I’d certainly give the edge to the songs “Top Hat, White Tie And Tails” (which I’ll admit to having done a tap solo to years ago, with the outfit becoming my go-to dance costume whenever I could use it for various specialty routines at dance recitals) and “Cheek To Cheek” (which is the song and dance that most defines the partnership of Fred and Ginger to me, and which I have also danced to, although it loses some of its meaning in the process since, at 6’4″, I’ve towered over most of my dance partners). But “No Strings (I’m Fancy Free),” “Isn’t This A Lovely Day (To Be Caught In The Rain)” and especially “The Piccolino” are all very delightful songs (and dances!).

The music (and dancing) are a big part of what makes the film a classic, but the comedy is right up there, too! Fred and Ginger certainly have some wonderful comedic moments together, and lines that stick with me, including this fabulous exchange:

-Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers): “What is this strange power you have over horses?”

-Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire): “Horse power.”

Of course, Fred and Ginger are hardly the only ones with comedic abilities here, as the rest of the cast handle it quite well, too. But it’s Edward Everett Horton (with his hilarious double-takes) and Eric Blore who steal the show, especially when together. Of course, Eric Blore’s Bates insulting the Italian policeman (who supposedly doesn’t understand a word of English) is one of the film’s most laugh-out-loud moments for me! Sure, the film’s plot is ridiculous, but with Fred and Ginger (and all the rest of the cast) to carry the film, who needs a good plot? I have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending this film quite highly (seriously, go find a way to watch it now)!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Home Video.

Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #1 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Dancing Lady (1933)Fred AstaireFollow The Fleet (1936)

Star Of Midnight (1935)Ginger RogersIn Person (1935)

The Devil Is A Woman (1935) – Edward Everett Horton – Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938)

Helen Broderick – Swing Time (1936)

The Good Fairy (1935) – Eric Blore – Swing Time (1936)

Lucille Ball – Follow The Fleet (1936)

Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers (screen team) – Follow The Fleet (1936)

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“Screen Team (Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers) Of The Month (July 2022)” Featuring Fred Astaire in… Funny Face (1957)

Well, a few weeks back, we looked at one of Ginger Rogers’ solo films, so now we need to look at a solo film for the other half of this month’s featured Screen Team, Fred Astaire!  In this case, we’re going with his 1957 musical Funny Face, also starring Audrey Hepburn!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Termites From Mars (1952)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 21 seconds)

The Earth is being invaded by the Martians!  However, as Woody Woodpecker quickly finds out, these “Martians” are a bunch of termites out to eat up his home!  This one was a bit of a departure from some of the other cartoons in the series.  It’s different seeing Woody be the one getting picked on almost throughout the entire short (until he finally manages to turn the tables).  It has its moments, particularly when the “Martian” invasion is being announced.  It’s not the most original (since, as you can expect, the termites eat up almost everything wooden in sight).  I can’t say as I like this deviation from the regular series that much, but it at least breaks up the monotony (and keeps Woody from becoming too obnoxious).

And Now For The Main Feature…

Quality Magazine editor Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson) is always in search of starting the next big fashion trend, whether it be everyone wearing pink, or clothing for intellectual women, or finding one woman to represent Quality Magazine itself.  It’s while in search of the second one (clothing for intellectual women) that Maggie and her crew invade a Greenwich Village bookstore to take some photos with their model.  They immediately get on the nerves of the shop owner’s assistant Jo Stockton (Audrey Hepburn), who complains about how they just take over the shop.  When they are finally done, the place is a mess, and Maggie’s head photographer, Dick Avery (Fred Astaire), stays behind to help Jo clean up.  In doing so, he learns of her desire to go to Paris, France and talk to some of the philosophers there.  Later on, when Maggie starts planning out a campaign for the “Quality woman,” Dick suggests using Jo.  Maggie at first dislikes the idea, as does Jo when she is dragged into the Quality offices.  However, when Dick explains to Jo that doing the modeling would result in a trip to Paris, she comes around to the idea.  It’s not smooth sailing at the start, though. Without realizing that she needs to meet with French designer Paul Duval (Robert Flemyng) (who is designing her outfits), Jo goes to a local bohemian café to talk with some of the philosophers there, which prompts Dick to go looking for her.  He helps her to realize her responsibilities, and she shows up for work the next day.  Duval successfully designs a series of outfits for her, and so Dick spends the next week photographing her in those dresses throughout Paris.  However, when they take pictures of her in a wedding gown outside a small country church, she is overwhelmed, and reveals to Dick that she loves him (and he responds in kind).  On the night she is to be presented to the press, she learns that Professor Émile Flostre (Michel Auclair), whom she had come to Paris in hopes of seeing, is speaking at the café, so she stops by to see him.  When Dick comes around to pick her up, he quickly becomes suspicious of Flostre’s intentions and drags her away.  With the two of them arguing, her presentation to the press is a disaster.  Jo decides to not come to the fashion show, and instead goes to a party that Flostre is hosting at his home.  Trying to get her to come to the fashion show, Dick and Maggie go to Flostre’s home in disguise.  But will their efforts work, or will Dick continue to drive a wedge between Jo and himself with his suspicions?

While they may share the same name, the movie is NOT based on the 1927 Broadway show Funny Face that had originally starred Fred Astaire and his sister Adele (although several songs from that show’s score were included in the film).  Instead, the movie was based on an unproduced Leonard Gershe play called Wedding Day.  Producer Roger Edens, working at MGM under famous musical producer Arthur Freed, had bought the rights to the play, intending it as a vehicle for Fred Astaire and then-popular star Audrey Hepburn.  Both Astaire and Hepburn wanted to do the film, but there was one major problem: she was under contract to Paramount Pictures, and they had absolutely no intention of loaning her out to MGM.  So, Arthur Freed let Roger Edens take the project to Paramount, and he brought with him director Stanley Donen and some other MGM talent.  They did some of the location filming in Paris, but the weather caused a number of delays, forcing them to make some adjustments.  Reviews were positive, but the film didn’t do too well at the box office initially.  It wasn’t until the film was reissued in 1964, alongside Audrey’s next big musical, My Fair Lady, that Funny Face was able to become profitable.

I’ve seen Funny Face many times over the years, and it’s a movie that I always love finding an excuse to come back around to!  Fred Astaire’s presence was indeed my original reason for seeing this movie, and he has indeed remained one of the film’s main attractions for me.  And, to be fair, I would say that seeing this film time and time again helped me grow to love Audrey Hepburn as well.  Their three dance duets together (“Funny Face,” “He Loves And She Loves” and “‘S Wonderful”) are definitely the highlights of the film, with the romantic “He Loves And She Loves” being my favorite of the bunch.  Fred and Audrey also get some fun solo routines in the forms of “Let’s Kiss And Make Up” and “Basal Metabolism” (I’ll admit, “Basal Metabolism” took me a while to come around to, since the music and style of dance are so far out of my normal preferences, but it’s grown on me with time).  Kay Thompson adds to the fun in a rare onscreen performance as the no-nonsense magazine editor who usually runs roughshod over everybody to get what she wants (and I wish she had done more work onscreen, she’s so much fun).  All in all, Funny Face is a movie that I love to see again and again, and I certainly recommend it highly!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD either individually or as part of the Audrey Hepburn 7-Movie Collection from Paramount Pictures

Film Length: 1 hour, 43 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #2 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Roman Holiday (1953)Audrey HepburnLove In The Afternoon (1957)

The Band Wagon (1953)Fred AstaireSilk Stockings (1957)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) Roundup Featuring… Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers

Welcome back to my new “Whats Old Is A New Release Again Roundup” series! This time around, I’m focusing on titles released in 2022 featuring either Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers (or both), whether they be on DVD, Blu-ray or 4K UHD. Due to the slower pace of releases, I will be starting out with two films, and updating this post as I see more (with the updates showing up on the 2022 Releases page). This post will be completed when I have seen all of the titles released in 2022, or at the tail end of March 2023 (whichever happens first). So, let’s dig into some of Fred and Ginger’s films that have seen a new release in 2022. So far, that list includes Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) and Blue Skies (1946)!

Remember, as an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Note: Due to the fact that I’ve reviewed both Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) and Blue Skies (1946) previously, I have added my “Coming Up Shorts!” comments to those reviews.

Update: On 11/16/2022, comments were added on the recent 4K UHD release of Holiday Inn (1942), which completes this post for the year. Due to there being a previously written review for that film, the “Coming Up Shorts!” comments were added to that review.

Table Of Contents

Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)

  • Plot Synopses: It’s the Great Depression, and while producer Barney Hopkins (Ned Sparks) has a great idea for a show, he doesn’t have the cash to put it on. However, Brad Roberts (Dick Powell), the composer boyfriend of one of Barney’s potential cast members, decides to offer Barney the money to put it on (in exchange for his girlfriend being given the lead). The show’s a hit, but when it comes out that Brad (who is part of a wealthy society family) intends to marry his girlfriend, Polly Parker (Ruby Keeler), Brad’s older brother, J. Lawrence Bradford (Warren William), threatens to have him cut off financially. Mistaking Polly’s roommate Carol (Joan Blondell) for Polly, Lawrence tries to buy her off, but Carol and her friend Trixie Lorraine (Aline MacMahon) decide to get back at him. Will Lawrence be able to break up his brother’s relationship, or will he find himself in love?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 37 minutes
  • Extras: FDR’s New Deal… Broadway Bound, Warner Brothers cartoons We’re In The Money (1933), Pettin’ In The Park (1934), I’ve Got To Sing A Torch Song (1933), Warner Brothers Shorts Ramblin’ Round Radio Row #2 (1932), The 42nd Street Special (1933), Seasoned Greetings (1933), Theatrical Trailer
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Warner Archive Collection
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: The transfer comes from a scan of the best preservation elements, and it looks fantastic!  It’s an understatement to say that it shows off all the details of the sets and costumes, especially for the various musical numbers!  The image has been cleaned up of all scratches, dirt and debris.  As usual, this Warner Archive release really shines as an example of a great restoration.  The Blu-ray is highly recommended as the best way to see this movie, and goes quite well with their earlier Blu-rays for 42nd Street (1933) and Footlight Parade (1933)!

Holiday Inn (1942)

  • Plot Synopses: A three person song-and-dance team splits up when one of their members, Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby) gets the urge to buy a farm where he can rest and retire from show business. Farming doesn’t prove to be as easy or as restful as he thinks, and he decides to turn the farm into an inn that is only open for holidays (fifteen days a year). Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) is sent to the inn to audition, and she gets a job there. Jim falls for her, but one of his former partners, Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire), finds himself partnerless. Upon meeting Linda, Ted also falls in love with her and wants to dance with her. Will Linda stay at the inn with Jim, or will she become a big star with Ted?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes
  • Extras (on both the 4K disc and the included Blu-ray): “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men;” “All-Singing All-Dancing;” “Reassessing ‘Abraham;'” Theatrical Trailer; and Feature Commentary By Film Historian Ken Barnes, including Audio Comments From Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby And John Scott Trotter
  • Format: 4K UHD
  • Label: Universal Studios
  • My Rating: 8/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: Honestly, this is a bit of a disappointing release. The 4K disc looks terrible, with a picture that is darker at times and loses some of the detail, and grain tends to be very distracting here, as if they are working from elements (or an older transfer) that doesn’t have 4K worth of data, although there are some moments here and there where the 4K disc actually looks good. Frankly, the included Blu-ray (which appears to use the same transfer, or close enough) actually looks better throughout. The Blu-ray is lighter and the grain is nowhere near as prevalent as it is on the 4K. Also, depending on your feelings about this, the film starts with a vintage Universal logo preceding the film’s Paramount logo. I only mention this because the film was originally produced by Paramount, was part of a large group of films sold to Music Corporation Of America (MCA)/EMKA , Ltd. in the 1950s, before becoming part of Universal Studios’ library when MCA took over the studio in the 1960s. Realistically, this release is at best recommended to those who don’t have the Blu-ray already (and even then it is questionable). If you already have the Blu-ray, then don’t bother with this one. If you want either the Broadway show or the colorized version of the film (neither of which is included as extras with this release), then I would suggest going with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.

Blue Skies (1946)

  • Plot Synopses: Dancer Jed Potter (Fred Astaire) likes chorus girl Mary O’Hara (Joan Caulfield), but he makes the mistake of taking her to a nightclub owned by his friend, Johnny Adams (Bing Crosby). Mary falls instantly for Johnny, and he for her, much to Jed’s regret. However, Mary takes a slight issue with Johnny not being too responsible, as he has a bad habit of constantly buying and selling his nightclubs. That’s not enough to stop them from getting married, but Johnny’s refusal to change his ways really comes between them after they have a child, and they divorce. With Jed’s love for Mary growing over time, will she give him a chance, or will things go sour between them, too?
  • Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes
  • Extras: Audio commentary by film critic and author Simon Abrams, Trailers for Road To Morocco (1942), Daddy Long Legs (1955), Love Me Tonight (1932) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Label: Kino Lorber Studio Classics
  • My Rating: 10/10
  • Quick Comments
    • On The Movie Itself: Check overall impressions or see the full review here.
    • On The Transfer: According to the Blu-ray case, the transfer is coming from a new 2K master with newly remastered audio. In general, this release looks quite wonderful. It improves on Universal’s earlier DVD by fixing the previously windowboxed opening and closing credits, and the colors look quite good in general. It’s not quite as perfect as similar releases from Warner Archive, but it’s about as good as I can hope for with this film. The image has been cleaned up of scratches, dirt and debris. Quick note: on the initial pressing of this Blu-ray, there were some audio issues in which Fred Astaire’s taps were a lot more muffled. Kino Lorber Studio Classics looked into it and decided to fix the issue (it’s already been taken care of by this time). Customers are guaranteed to get the right copy at Kino’s own sites, but in case you get the incorrect copy from somewhere else, this link will take you to their replacement program.

My Overall Impressions

Since this post is in reference to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, my Screen Team Of The Month for July 2022, then, as you have noticed, I am foregoing my usual quick comments on these movies in favor of some reflection on the films regarding Fred and Ginger (especially since I have otherwise reviewed these two films previously). Neither Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) nor Blue Skies (1946) were substantial roles for Fred or Ginger, since neither of them were at the peak of their careers. Ginger’s star was on the rise after she played the part of Anytime Annie in 42nd Street (1933), which is when she was starting to really get noticed. For Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933), her big moment is the opening number, “We’re In The Money,” which she sings normally first, and then sings again in pig Latin (and this opening number is indeed worth the price of admission). Otherwise, she has a relatively minor part, mainly as one of the girls hoping to get a part in Barney Hopkins’ new show in the first half of the movie, and then she is relegated to two very quick appearances as she tries to get in on the gold digging that two of her friends are doing (before being quickly booted by them both times). On the other hand, Fred’s career was on the outs by the time of Blue Skies (1946). He was feeling burnt out, especially after Yolanda And The Thief (1945) bombed, and announced his retirement, effective after doing Blue Skies (although his retirement was short-lived, as he came back two years later for Easter Parade). With him playing second fiddle to Bing Crosby, he doesn’t really have as much to do, but he does get four musical numbers. They are “A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody” (partnered with leading lady Joan Caulfield, and this routine is only decent when he is dancing alone), “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men” with Bing Crosby (in a similar comedic vein to “I’ll Capture Your Heart” from Holiday Inn), “Heat Wave” with Olga San Juan and “Puttin’ On The Ritz.” The latter three songs are some of the film’s best moments, with “Puttin’ On The Ritz” being the film’s standout routine, as Fred utilizes special effects to make his cane fly up from the ground into his hand several times before finishing out with a chorus of Fred Astaires (one of the few times we could directly see just how well-rehearsed he was as we see that chorus so very in-sync with each other and the “lead” dancer). Fred’s earlier team-up with Bing Crosby, Holiday Inn (1942) is a different story from these other two films. While he was past both his partnership with Ginger (save for their reunion film The Barkleys Of Broadway from 1949) and his status as box office poison, Fred’s career was still on a bit of a downhill slope (admittedly not as steep as it would be within the next few years). Holiday Inn marked the first time since very early in his film career where Fred wasn’t the highest-billed male star of the movie, with him in some respects playing the film’s “villain” (a bit of a rarity in and of itself). He does get several song-and-dance numbers in the film, including the aforementioned “I’ll Capture Your Heart” with Bing Crosby; “You’re Easy To Dance With” with Virginia Dale; his “drunk dance,” “Be Careful, It’s My Heart,” “I Can’t Tell A Lie” and the Hollywood medley with Marjorie Reynolds; and his solo (with firecrackers!) to “Let’s Say It With Firecrackers.”

Well, now that I’ve commented on both of these films, I’ll give you my rankings on these releases, from highly recommended (1.) to least recommended (3.):

  1. Blue Skies (1946)
  2. Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)
  3. Holiday Inn (1942)

I admit, my personal preference definitely comes into play here, as I have long preferred Blue Skies over Gold Diggers Of 1933 or Holiday Inn. I very much enjoy listening to the music and Fred’s dancing in Blue Skies (always have preferred Fred’s way of filming dance over Busby Berkeley’s). The story is probably better in Gold Diggers Of 1933, and it has some fun music as well (again, Ginger’s “We’re In The Money” is one of the film’s biggest highlights). Fred has a few good moments in Holiday Inn, but, in spite of the fact that his role was larger in that film than in Blue Skies, I actually prefer him in the later Blue Skies. As to which film has the better transfer, that’s easy: Gold Diggers Of 1933. As I said, Blue Skies looks very good, and is definitely a nice improvement over the DVD. But, the color isn’t quite as good as what I’ve seen from three-strip Technicolor films released by Warner Archive, and Gold Diggers, while a black-and-white film, looks very, VERY good. The 4K UHD for Holiday Inn, however, is a disappointment with a lackluster transfer that really shouldn’t have been released. The Blu-rays for Blue Skies and Gold Diggers Of 1933 are both releases that are easy to recommend (especially since I think they are both good films with pretty good transfers). Holiday Inn is a tougher recommendation, since I not only can’t quite recommend the 4K UHD but also don’t think *quite* as highly of the film itself in comparison, but I certainly would recommend it at least from any of the previously available Blu-rays.

TFTMM’s Screen Team Edition Presents “Screen Team Of The Month (July 2022)” Featuring Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers

Well, the month of June is past (and with it, my focus on Frank Sinatra), so, as my homepage indicates, we’re now here to focus on the Screen Team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers! Originally, I had planned to focus on them for May 2022, but I delayed it after a lot of trouble at home (as alluded to in this post), with the hope that I would have more time and potentially be able to do the five films I had originally hoped to do. Even with the delay, things haven’t improved enough for me to do five films (which, honestly, I’m fine with now, as the slower pace with fewer reviews per month is actually a bit of a relief). So, it’s on with Fred and Ginger! Again, this is still not a blogathon, but if you’re interested in contributing, I certainly wouldn’t object!

Table Of Contents

Quick Film Career Bio

Fred Astaire

Birth: May 10, 1899

Death: June 22, 1987

On May 10, 1899, Frederick Austerlitz was born to Frederic “Fritz” Austerlitz and Johanna “Ann” Geilus in Omaha, Nebraska. As a growing boy, Fred was a bit frail and tended to be very serious, so his mother pushed him to take up dancing. At first, he didn’t care for the idea, but he came around to it. With both him and his older sister Adele showing some serious skill with dance, the family moved to New York City in early 1905 where they were taught dance, speaking and singing at the Alviene Master School of the Theatre and Academy of Cultural Arts. In this way, they worked towards coming up with a dance act for the two siblings to tour with on the vaudeville stage. They made their stage debut together in Keyport, New Jersey. Soon after, they got a contract with the Orpheum Circuit, and they toured the country with their act. With Adele growing taller than Fred for a time, they had to take some time off. After two years, they returned to the stage. As they traveled, they learned other styles of dance, like tap dancing and ballroom, from some of their vaudevillian acquaintances. Eventually, the Astaires were able to make it to Broadway, debuting in the 1917 show Over The Top. Over the next fourteen years, they proved to be popular with audiences on Broadway and in London, with their final show together being The Band Wagon in 1931. After that, Fred was on his own when his sister retired to marry Lord Charles Cavendish.

Embarking on a solo career, Fred did the Cole Porter show The Gay Divorce, but he yearned for something different, and signed with Hollywood studio RKO Radio Pictures. They briefly lent him out to MGM, where he made his film debut (playing himself) in a glorified cameo dancing with Joan Crawford in Dancing Lady (1933). Back at RKO, he was cast in Flying Down To Rio (1933), essentially playing the comedy relief opposite the film’s leads. However, he was paired up with Ginger Rogers (whom he had met and even briefly dated back on Broadway in 1930) for a dance to the song “The Carioca,” and history was made. Audiences and RKO executives were thrilled with the chemistry that the two shared, and Fred and Ginger would be teamed up again (this time, with top billing) for The Gay Divorcee (1934), the filmed version of Fred’s final Broadway show. While he wasn’t thrilled being considered part of a team again, he went along with it when he was offered ten percent of the profits. The Gay Divorcee also proved to be a big success, and the series continued on, with them reaching the height of their popularity as a team with their fourth film, Top Hat (1935). In the process, Fred had changed the way dance was used and filmed, as he insisted on minimal cuts during the dance itself and wanted to keep the dancers’ full bodies in view, while also trying to make dance itself integral to the plot. As time went on, though, the Astaire-Rogers films started to falter at the box office. Wanting to try going solo again (since he had only been making films with Ginger, while she had been doing stuff apart from him), he made A Damsel In Distress (1937). The film did poorly at the box office, and resulted in him being labeled “box office poison.” He tried to do two more films with Ginger at RKO, but his bad streak continued, resulting in both films losing money at the box office. After The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle (1939), he left RKO and started freelancing. He danced opposite Eleanor Powell (Broadway Melody Of 1940, MGM), Paulette Goddard (Second Chorus, Paramount Pictures), Rita Hayworth (You’ll Never Get Rich and You Were Never Lovelier, both Columbia Pictures), Bing Crosby (Holiday Inn and Blue Skies, both Paramount Pictures), Joan Leslie (The Sky’s The Limit, RKO) and Lucille Bremer (Yolanda And The Thief and Ziegfeld Follies, both MGM). With his popularity sinking again (in between Yolanda And The Thief bombing and playing second fiddle to Bing Crosby in two films), Fred announced his retirement following Blue Skies, with him focusing on his dance studios and on breeding racehorses.

His desire to be retired didn’t last too long, as he started to ponder going back to work. He was given a stronger nudge when MGM called him, hoping he would replace the injured Gene Kelly for Easter Parade with Judy Garland. Indeed, he did come back, and the film turned out to be one of his biggest hits! Fred and Judy were supposed to follow that up with The Barkleys Of Broadway (1949), but she had issues because of her dependence on prescription medications and had to be replaced. Fred’s old co-star Ginger Rogers was brought in for what would be their final film together (and their only one in color), and the film was a success. Fred was given an honorary Academy Award for artistic achievement (presented by none other than Ginger Rogers herself), and made a string of Technicolor musicals for MGM (with a slight stopover at Paramount for Let’s Dance). After making The Band Wagon (1953), his contract with MGM was terminated (due in part to the rise of television). He was about to start working on the film Daddy Long Legs over at 20th Century Fox, but his wife, Phyllis Potter (whom he had married in 1933) grew ill and died suddenly of lung cancer. In his grief, he wanted out of his contract for Daddy Long Legs (even offering to pay the production costs himself), but composer Johnny Mercer and the studio executives wanted him to do the film, hoping that working would help him through his grief. He listened to them, and the film did decently at the box office. However, his next two films, Funny Face (1957) and Silk Stockings (1957), lost money, and he decided to retire from dancing in the movies (although, over the next decade, he would do four highly acclaimed dance specials on television).

On the big screen, he took a more dramatic turn with the film On The Beach (1959), for which he received a nomination for the Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor. He continued to make the occasional appearances on the big screen, but also did work on TV as well, enjoying recurring roles on Dr. Kildare (1961-1966) and the final season of It Takes A Thief (1968-1970). He returned to the musical genre again on the big screen for Finian’s Rainbow (1969), although director Francis Ford Coppola overrode him on how to film the dance scenes for the movie. On the small screen, he kept himself in the limelight by voicing the mailman character S. D. Kluger in Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1970) and The Easter Bunny Is Comin’ To Town (1977), and made an appearance on the sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979) due to his grandchildren’s interest in the series. He received his sole Oscar nomination (for Best Supporting Actor) in the 1974 disaster film The Towering Inferno. His final film appearance was in 1981’s Ghost Story alongside several other actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood. He passed away a few years later from pneumonia (on June 22, 1987) at the age of 88.

Ginger Rogers

Birth: July 16, 1911

Death: April 25, 1995

On July 16, 1911, Virginia Katherine McMath was born to William Eddins McMath and Lela Emogene Owens at their home in Independence, Missouri. Not long after her birth, her parents split up (with her father even kidnapping her twice) and eventually divorced. With her mother trying to get work in Hollywood, Virginia moved in with her grandparents in Kansas City. When Virginia (who gained the nickname “Ginger” due to a younger cousin’s mispronunciation of her name) was nine, her mother was married again, this time to John Logan Rogers, and Ginger took on his surname (even though she was never legally adopted by him). They moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where her mother became a theater critic. With her mother bringing her along to some of the stage productions, Ginger began to dance and sing along with the performers. At the age of fourteen, she entered and won a Charleston dance contest, with the prize being the opportunity to tour as part of an act called “Ginger And The Redheads” on the Orpheum Circuit. At the age of seventeen, she briefly formed an act with Jack Culpepper (who would be her first husband for nearly a year). After the act dissipated, she tried doing a solo act, working with bandleader Paul Ash and his orchestra when they went to New York City. She made her Broadway debut in the musical Top Speed, but was quickly chosen (within two weeks of that show’s opening) to star in the Gershwin musical Girl Crazy (with Fred Astaire being brought in to help the dancers with the choreography).

Before she starred in Girl Crazy, she had been in a few theatrical shorts. Upon finishing her run in Girl Crazy, she signed with Paramount Pictures and made her film debut in Young Man Of Manhattan (1930). She made that movie (and several more) at Astoria Studios in New York City, before she got herself out of the contract with Paramount and moved to Hollywood with her mother. She worked at studios like Pathé Exchange, Warner Brothers, Monogram and Fox, without getting too far. It took getting the role of “Anytime Annie” in 42nd Street (1933) before she started getting recognition. She followed that up by memorably singing “We’re In The Money” in pig Latin for Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933). She made some other films for Warner Brothers and RKO Studios before famously being paired up with Fred Astaire for “The Carioca” in Flying Down To Rio (1933). Their chemistry together was enough for RKO executives to team them up again for The Gay Divorcee (1934), which cemented them as two of Hollywood’s biggest stars at the time. While Fred Astaire continued to concentrate all of his efforts on their films together, Ginger maintained her own solo career with a very busy schedule. As a team, Fred and Ginger’s popularity hit its peak with their fourth film Top Hat (1935). The costs of producing musicals (much higher than for dramas or comedies) resulted in the Astaire-Rogers films not being as successful after that, and the team split briefly. She proved her dramatic abilities in Stage Door (1937) and continued to hone her comedic abilities through films like Vivacious Lady (1938). With Fred Astaire being labeled box office poison after his own solo outing and RKO Studios facing bankruptcy, Fred and Ginger were teamed up again for two more movies. Sadly, the musical genre was losing its appeal to audiences, and both films lost money, thus ending the partnership (for a decade).

Ginger continued to enjoy success on her own, with comedies like Bachelor Mother (1939). She really hit her stride the next year with her role in Kitty Foyle (1940), a role which would win her the Oscar for Best Actress. Her Oscar win gave her more negotiating power when it came to her contracts with the studios, and she took the opportunity to do the projects she wanted for whatever studio, including The Major And The Minor (1942) (which was semi-autobiographical for her in that, when she was younger and traveling with her mother, she had dressed up to look like a child to get half-fare tickets), Tender Comrade (1943) and I’ll Be Seeing You (1944). During this time, she became one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. The end of the decade saw her reunited onscreen with Fred Astaire when she replaced Judy Garland to do The Barkleys Of Broadway (1949).

Going into the 1950s, Ginger’s career started to go into decline, with fewer roles being offered due to her age. Her main success on the big screen during this period was her second film with Cary Grant, Monkey Business (1952). She continued to make movies throughout the decade while also starting to make appearances on various TV shows. Her final film role was that of Jean Harlow’s mother in Harlow (1965). She made her comeback on Broadway that same year when she played Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! and followed that up a few years later with the lead in the musical Mame in London’s West End. She made a handful of appearances in different TV shows like The Love Boat (1977-1986) and Hotel (1983-1988), with Hotel being her last onscreen role as an actress. In fulfilling a lifelong dream, she directed an off-Broadway production of Babes In Arms in 1985. In 1991, she published her autobiography, “Ginger: My Story.” Her last public appearance was when she received the Women’s International Center Living Legend award in March 1995. Just barely a month later, on April 25, 1995, she died from congestive heart failure at her home.

My Own Feelings On Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers

When I first started watching classic films, Fred Astaire was one of the performers that I took to early on. The first film of his that I saw was The Royal Wedding (1951) (technically, I heard his voice in the 1970 TV special Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, which I had seen many times as a kid, but I never really had anything more specific to associate him with). While I liked him in The Royal Wedding, I didn’t really take to him that strongly at first, and in fact preferred Gene Kelly as a dancer. It really wasn’t until I saw Fred in Blue Skies (1946) later that year that I changed my mind and started concentrating on his films (specifically, his tap solo to “Puttin’ On The Ritz” and his duet with Bing Crosby to “A Couple Of Song And Dance Men” were what really sold me on him). Of course, following that up with Easter Parade (1948) really cinched my interest in him. I have by this point seen all of Fred’s film musicals, and while their quality may vary, I find I could easily put on any one of them and be happy with it. I’ve seen a few of his later non-musical films as well, with varying opinions (although my main opinion is that he was at his best in musicals).

Of course, I should be following up with my opinion of Ginger Rogers, but the reality is that I first developed a fondness for Fred, then their films together, then her on her own. The Barkleys Of Broadway (1949) was the first film I saw with both Fred and Ginger in it (if I’m remembering correctly, I saw it before I had seen Blue Skies, so I didn’t developed a solid interest in their team yet). After I saw the likes of Blue Skies and Easter Parade, I followed up with Top Hat (1935), which is when I not only developed an interest in seeing the rest of the Astaire/Rogers films, but it also cemented my interest in another “team,” that of Fred Astaire and composer Irving Berlin. Over the following couple of years, I saw all of the remaining Astaire/Rogers films whenever I could catch them on TCM, and enjoyed every one of them.

I think I might have seen most, if not all, of the Astaire/Rogers films before I started to venture into some of Ginger’s solo outings. I do remember that I saw in fairly quick succession Kitty Foyle (1940), Roxie Hart (1942) and I’ll Be Seeing You (1944), all of which I took to very strongly. Ever since, I’ve been trying to see more of Ginger’s filmography (which is a bit of a difficult task, since she made way more movies than Fred did). So far, I’ve enjoyed every one of them, even if only because of her presence, and that’s made it easier for me to keep looking for more of her films!

Fred Astaire Filmography

This is a list of all the films that I personally have reviewed from his filmography so far. Obviously, I will be adding to it throughout the month of July, and it is my plan to add to it as I review more and more of his films even beyond this month’s celebration.

Dancing Lady (1933)

Top Hat (1935)

Follow The Fleet (1936)

Swing Time (1936)

A Damsel In Distress (1937)

Carefree (1938)

The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle (1939)

Broadway Melody Of 1940 (1940)

You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)

Holiday Inn (1942)

The Sky’s The Limit (1943)

Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

Blue Skies (1946)

Easter Parade (1948)

The Band Wagon (1953)

Funny Face (1957)

Silk Stockings (1957)

The Notorious Landlady (1962)

Ginger Rogers Filmography

This is a list of all the films that I personally have reviewed from her filmography so far. Obviously, I will be adding to it throughout the month of July, and it is my plan to add to it as I review more and more of her films even beyond this month’s celebration.

You Said A Mouthful (1932)

42nd Street (1933)

Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933)

Professional Sweetheart (1933)

Upper World (1934)

Star Of Midnight (1935)

Top Hat (1935)

In Person (1935)

Follow The Fleet (1936)

Swing Time (1936)

Vivacious Lady (1938)

Having Wonderful Time (1938)

Carefree (1938)

The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle (1939)

Bachelor Mother (1939)

Fifth Avenue Girl (1939)

Lucky Partners (1940)

Kitty Foyle (1940)

Tom, Dick And Harry (1941)

Roxie Hart (1942)

The Major And The Minor (1942)

Once Upon A Honeymoon (1942)

I’ll Be Seeing You (1944)

Magnificent Doll (1946)

Perfect Strangers (1950)

Forever Female (1953)

Black Widow (1954)

Entries For This Month

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man –

Forever Female (1953)

Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers Roundup

Funny Face (1957)

Top Hat (1935)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Ziegfeld Follies (1945)

We’re back again to keep things musical this month with today’s entry in the Musicals: With A Song And A Dance In My Heart blogathon, as we take a look at MGM’s all-star musical from 1945, Ziegfeld Follies!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Luckiest Guy In The World (1947)

(available as an extra on the Ziegfeld Follies Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 21 minutes, 9 seconds)

Charles Vurn (Barry Nelson) struggles monetarily, due to his desire to get rich quick (mostly by gambling). When he accidentally kills his wife, his luck “seems” to change for the better. This was the last short in the “Crime Does Not Pay” series of shorts produced by MGM. It’s an interesting short, that feels well-acted and pulls you in for the story. Amusingly, considering this short’s inclusion as an extra on the Ziegfeld Follies Blu-ray, it includes part of Red Skelton’s skit from the movie done as part of a radio program heard in a car. I’m still no fan of the “Crime Does Not Pay” series, but this one was interesting to see once, anyways.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Hick Chick (1946)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 1 or as an extra on the Ziegfeld Follies Blu-ray, both from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 7 minutes, 10 seconds)

Hick rooster Lem ends up fighting with a city slicker for the affections of his girlfriend, Daisy. A bit of fun here, with the city slicker rooster imitating Charles Boyer, while Daisy also does an imitation of Katharine Hepburn (if I’m correct). Not the most original, with the hick rooster constantly being punched in the face the same way by the city slicker, but it’s still fun. Enjoyed the chasing around (plus the bull being “stripped” of his fur several times). Maybe not Tex Avery’s best work, but I had a few good laughs here, and that alone makes it worth it!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Solid Serenade (1946)

(available as an extra on the Ziegfeld Follies Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 25 seconds)

Tom the cat tries to serenade his girlfriend, but when he disturbs the sleep of Jerry the mouse, he lives to regret it! An old classic “Tom & Jerry” cartoon, with him famously singing “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby.” I’ve seen this one for years, and always get a laugh out of watching Tom facing off against Killer, the bulldog, when Jerry lets him loose. The gags just get funnier as the short goes on, and this one never gets old!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Narrator): Ziegfeld Follies is one of those films with a very simple plot.

(Host): How simple is it?

(Narrator): I expected that from you, so I’ll tell you. Florenz Ziegfeld (William Powell) looks down from heaven, and imagines what it would be like to put on just one more of his famous Ziegfeld Follies shows using the talent in Hollywood (especially at MGM).

(Host): Yeah, yeah, what else?

(Narrator): That’s it.

(Host): That’s it?

(Narrator): Yep, and that all takes place within the first ten minutes of the movie. After that, it’s a revue like the earlier reviewed King Of Jazz, with different stars singing, dancing, doing comedy skits, whatever their specific talents were.

(Host): So what’s on the program?

(Narrator): Well, here’s a list of what’s included, and we’ll get into the various segments afterwards:

  • “Here’s To The Girls” sung by Fred Astaire, danced by Cyd Charisse and chorus, Lucille Ball and chorus
  • “Bring On The Wonderful Men” sung by Virginia O’Brien
  • “A Water Ballet” featuring Esther Williams
  • “Number Please” with Keenan Wynn
  • “Traviata” sung by James Melton and Marion Bell
  • “Pay The Two Dollars” with Victor Moore and Edward Arnold
  • “This Heart Of Mine” sung by Fred Astaire, danced by Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer
  • “A Sweepstakes Ticket” with Fanny Brice, Hume Cronyn and William Frawley
  • “Love” with Lena Horn
  • “When Television Comes” with Red Skelton
  • “Limehouse Blues” danced by Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer
  • A Great Lady Has “An Interview” with Judy Garland
  • “The Babbitt and The Bromide” sung and danced by Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly
  • “Beauty” sung by Kathryn Grayson

(Host): And that’s all?

(Narrator): Yep, that’s all. Admittedly, there was more filmed, but that’s all that made it into the movie. But, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.

(Host): Ok, so start at the beginning.

(Narrator): (whispering aside to audience) He asked for it! (winks at audience, then turns back to Host, speaking in normal voice) “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the–

(Host): No, no, NO! Not that far! The making of this movie!

(Narrator): Ok, fine. Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. (1867-1932) was a famous stage producer. On the suggestion of Polish-French singer Anna Held, he started producing the American version of the Parisian Folies Bergère. From 1907 until 1931, he produced a yearly revue of the Ziegfeld Follies, with these shows sporting songs, dances, comedy sketches, and such. They mainly ended when he passed away in 1932. After his death, his widow Billie Burke sold the film rights of his life to Universal Pictures. However, with the rising costs and disagreements between the film’s producer and the studio, Universal ended up selling the rights to MGM. In 1936, MGM released The Great Ziegfeld, to great acclaim, box office, and a Best Picture Oscar win. A few years later, in 1939, studio head Louis B. Mayer planned the idea of a film version of a Ziegfeld Follies show, and gave the project to his new producer, Arthur Freed. However, with Arthur Freed’s new unit only just getting started, it took a while before they could really get into the project. With the success of Ziegfeld Girl in 1941, they really started to focus on the idea. The plan was to try and use some of the various songs, sketches and comedy routines that MGM had been acquiring over the years. At first, George Sidney was assigned to direct the film, but he left after a short while (supposedly, he wasn’t happy with the first month’s worth of shooting) and was replaced by Vincente Minelli (although some of what Sidney filmed was retained for the final product). The movie was originally intended to be released in 1944 to celebrate MGM’s 20th anniversary, but things didn’t work out that way. Filming initially took place between April 10 and August 18, 1944. When the movie was given its sneak preview (with a running time of nearly three hours), audiences didn’t respond as positively as they would have hoped. This resulted in the studio making some changes to the movie, removing many segments and doing some re-takes and additional sequences. Even once finished (as the film is now), they still took their time in releasing it, waiting almost half a year before finally giving it a wide release in 1946.

(Host hands the narrator a small business card)

(Narrator): (reading the card) “And now a word from our sponsor?”

(Pie comes flying in from offstage and hits the Narrator in the face)

(Host): That’s right folks, our sponsor this week is Pie N De Face! If you’re feeling gloomy, and you don’t know what to do (and you’ve got a friend or family member nearby), use Pie N De Face, and you’re sure to bust a gut laughing! Also comes with a portable washing machine (water falls from above the Narrator, drenching him), soap (Narrator is scrubbed with soap, then drenched again), and dryer (a strong gust of wind blows on the Narrator, drying him up and fluffing out his clothing) so that you can use it again in a hurry!

(Narrator): (Angrily walks off-stage, sound of pie hitting him in face again, then sounds of gushing water and wind) (yells) Let’s move on here! Start talking about the movie!

(Host): Alright. Computer, bring in the “This Heart Of Mine” set.

(Computer): Bringing in comedy set.

(Out pops a set with three distinct sections that look like a subway car, a courthouse and a jail cell. There are also two telephone booths and an old CRT television set with what appears to be a bottle of an alcoholic beverage, although nothing inside is visible. A huge pile of sweepstakes tickets drops on the Host, burying him).

(Host): (from underneath the pile of sweepstakes tickets) Ow.

(Narrator): (Walking back onstage) That’s the ticket!

(Audience groans)

(Narrator): Ok, ok, they can’t all be good! Anyways, it may not be what he asked for, but we should mention the comedy sketches. Obviously, opinions will vary for most, but in general, the comedy bits in this movie are among the more controversial aspects of it, as there are those that don’t think they have aged as well as the various musical numbers. There is a degree to which I agree with that. The bit “Pay The Two Dollars” with Victor Moore and Edward Arnold is the worst, as Victor Moore plays a businessman who gets in trouble for spitting on the subway (a minor offense), but, because of the fact that he is unable to pay the fine, combined with the insistence of his lawyer that he fight the charge (even though he just wants to pay the fine), he is sent to jail and then later prison, before being pardoned. In general, this one is just cringeworthy, watching Victor Moore’s character getting in worse and worse scrapes, both financially and with the law, just because his lawyer doesn’t want to lose the case (and charges his client an arm and a leg to do it). Maybe it’s funny once or twice, but eventually this becomes one worth skipping. Computer, drop “Pay The Two Dollars.”

(Computer): Dropping the cheapskate.

(Trapdoor opens up beneath the Host).

(Host): (Falling through the trapdoor with some of the sweepstakes tickets) Aaaaaaaaahhhh!

(Narrator): Moving on, we have the the “Number Please” comedy bit with Keenan Wynn, where he keeps asking the operator for a specific number, but keeps getting the wrong one. This one is decently funny, but, when all is said and done, it’s essentially the “Alexander 2222” (or whatever other name they go with) comedy routine, and, when you’ve seen Lou Costello do that routine, nobody else is as good.

(Phone booth rings)

(Narrator): (Steps in phone booth and picks up phone) Hello? (Muffled voice overheard on phone) Mmm-hmm. (Muffled voice continues) You don’t say. (Muffled voice starts to sound angry). You don’t say! (Muffled voice gets angrier. Narrator cups his hand over the phone and gives the audience a look). I think most of you can predict what I’m about to tell you, so say it with me. (breathes in) “He isn’t saying.” Computer, drop this obscene caller.

(Computer): Dropping the obscene caller.

(Host): (from the other telephone booth, getting quieter as if falling again) Not agaaaaaaaiiiiinnnn!

(Narrator): The next comedy sketch would be “A Sweepstakes Ticket” with Fanny Brice, Hume Cronyn and William Frawley. Fanny Brice was the only featured star in this movie to have actually been one of the big stars from a Ziegfeld Follies show. Different sketches and ideas were thrown around for what to do with her for this movie, but what we got was a sketch in which she plays a housewife that has the winning ticket in an Irish sweepstakes. The problem is her husband, played by Hume Cronyn, has given the ticket to their landlord (William Frawley in what would become a familiar occupation for one of his most famous characters half a decade later) as part of their rent, so they must try to get it back from him. There’s some fun with their attempts to get the ticket back, so it does manage to be slightly more memorable. (speaks loudly) Of course, I’ve got that winning ticket in that pile somewhere…

(Host comes running back onstage and dives into remaining pile of sweepstakes tickets, only to fall through the still open trapdoor)

(Narrator): Knew I forget to take care of something. Computer, close the trapdoor.

(Computer): Closing the trapdoor.

(Trapdoor closes)

(Narrator): Our last comedy sketch is “When Television Comes” with Red Skelton. (Walks over to the television set and takes a swig from the bottle on top) While Red Skelton seems to be one of the more “you love him or you hate him” types, I will admit that I personally like his comedy. I don’t think his comedy bit here is as good as what he did in Lovely To Look At, but it’s still some good fun as he plays an advertiser that gets slowly more drunk on the sponsor’s product while alternating (by the turn of his hat) as a poet with some rather amusing poetry (if you can call it that). Out of all the pure comedy sketches in this movie, this is the one that I enjoy the most. (Takes another swig from the bottle) Ah, that’s good stuff. (To audience) Before you get the wrong idea, I’m drinking the hard stuff. Milk. What? You expected something alcoholic? We wouldn’t let anything of that nature on here! But let’s get back to the movie!

(Host): (weakly from offstage) What about “A Great Lady Has An Interview” with Judy Garland?

(Narrator): Well, that’s kind of a different story. That one is a musical number, which was written by Kay Thompson and Roger Edens for actress Greer Garson, in an attempt to spoof her screen image at the time. When the two writers performed it for Greer Garson and her husband and her mother, they expressed their feelings that it wasn’t for her. Instead, Judy Garland ended up doing it. Personally, while I think that Judy Garland does a good job with it (and I’m glad that she got something in this movie, considering she was another star that had a lot of stuff planned as possibilities that didn’t pan out, and, as big as she was at MGM, she did need to be in this film), I think the humor of the piece falls flat. Maybe I’m saying that coming from a complete lack of knowledge in regards to Greer Garson (having only seen her in the film Blossoms In The Dust which was part of a set of Christmas films I got on DVD a number of years back), but I can’t believe that I’m the only one who has no knowledge of her, which causes this number to age poorly, in my opinion.

(sign drops from above)

(Narrator): (reading the sign) “And now back to our sponsor Pie N De Face?”

(another pie comes flying in from offstage and hits the Narrator in the face).

(Host): (trying to stifle a giggle) If you’re feeling gloomy (starts giggling more intensely), and you don’t know what to do (and you’ve got a friend or family member nearby), use Pie N De Face (busts out in raucous laughter), and you’re… sure to… bust a gut… laughing! (starts rolling on the floor in uncontrollable laughter)

(Narrator): (wiping pie off his face) Oh, very funny. Veeeeerrrry funny. Are you through yet?

(Host still laughing on the floor)

(Narrator): Fine. I’ll finish the ad. (starts speaking fast to get it over with). Also comes with a portable washing machine, soap, and dryer so that you can use it again in a hurry! (In quick fashion, water drops on the Narrator, followed quickly by soap, more water, and then a strong gust of wind fluffs him up again)

(Host): (still on the floor laughing) Had enough?

(Narrator walks offstage muttering angrily to himself)

(Host): (laughter subsides) Ok, let’s try this again. Computer, bring in the “This Heart Of Mine” set.

(Computer): Bringing in “Beauty” set.

(From above, a bunch of soap suds and bubbles drop down, covering the stage and sticking to the Host)

(Host): (spitting out soap bubbles) No, no, no, not that! Computer! Bring in the “This Heart Of Mine” set!

(Computer): Bringing in “Water Ballet” set.

(Host): (dreading what is coming) Oh, no!

(A glass pane comes down covering the front of the stage, with water filling in behind it and washing away all the suds. The Host suddenly finds himself swimming in all the water as the water level continues to rise.)

(Narrator): (walking back onstage in front of the glass pane) Ah, two musical numbers that ended up being far different than what was originally planned. As I’ve hinted at already, a lot of the various stars were being given numerous songs or sketches in the planning stages, some of which managed to be filmed (but were dropped after the initial preview). One of those stars was singer James Melton, who had filmed at least four songs, but only one was retained: the operatic “La Traviata.” Personally, I think that to be one of the weakest (if not THE weakest) segments retained for the movie. I’ve seen it described as being filmed like a song for a TV variety show, which feels quite accurate. Overall, I don’t really like it at all (and only would have been able to tolerate it if it could have been done, for example, by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy instead of James Melton and Marion Bell).

(The water level continues to rise. The Host swims his way over to the glass pane and taps on it.)

(Narrator): What? Oh, right, the two different musical numbers. Well, we have the one segment with Esther Williams doing her underwater ballet. Originally, this segment was done with James Melton singing the song “We Will Meet Again in Honolulu,” but after the initial preview, Melton’s appearance was cut, with only Esther Williams’ swim routine sticking around. It’s nothing compared to some of the spectacles she would do in some of her later films (at least, those that I’ve seen), but it’s entertaining enough.

(With the water level at the top, an agitated Host pounds furiously on the glass pane.)

(Narrator): (looking back) Now what? (sees water level) Oh, right! Computer, pull the plug.

(Computer): Pulling the plug.

(A hole opens up in the center of the stage, draining all the water. As the water goes down the hole, the Host goes down with it.)

(Narrator): (When all the water is gone) Computer, put in the plug.

(Computer): Putting in plug.

(The hole in the center of the stage closes up.)

(Host): (from down below) Why can’t that thing work that well for me?!?!?

(Narrator): (Ignoring the Host’s complaint) Now where were we? Oh, yes. The song “There’s Beauty Everywhere” was also quite different for its original conception. James Melton also originally sang that song, and director Vincente Minelli envisioned having Fred Astaire, Lucille Bremer and Cyd Charisse dancing among soap bubbles. However, the bubble machine caused a lot of trouble, with the gas from the bubbles causing the cameraman to faint and otherwise became a constant hazard, not to mention the bubbles themselves getting out of control. As a result, they weren’t able to film it right (with the bubbles generally obscuring parts of Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer’s faces), so most of the idea was abandoned. Some of the footage featuring Cyd Charisse was kept in the film, and James Melton was replaced by Kathryn Grayson with some newly shot footage. Personally, I think it’s not really that memorable of a song, especially as it is, and makes me wish they could have (safely) pulled off their original vision.

(From offstage, the sound of machinery fizzling out can be heard. Then the Host walks onstage)

(Host): Darn it. There goes our sponsor’s machine. All those soap suds and that water shorted it out.

(Narrator): (in a mocking tone). Awww, that’s too bad.

(Host): (imitating the Narrator) “Awww, that’s too bad.” (Normal voice) Oh, you’ll get over it. Getting back to the movie, are you finished with the water ballet and “There’s Beauty Everywhere?”

(Narrator): Yes.

(Host): Anything you want to say about the song “Love” before segueing into discussing the Fred Astaire stuff?

(Narrator): Well, “Love,” as sung by Lena Horne, is a fun piece of music, and she does a wonderful job of singing it. I can’t really say much one way or the other about how it was staged, as that aspect doesn’t really feel that memorable. Still, as I said, the song itself sticks quite well in my memory, and is one of the better songs in the film.

(Host): Ready for Fred Astaire?

(A screen drops down from above)

(Narrator): (ducking behind the screen and popping out on the other side wearing a top hat and a tuxedo with tails, and carrying a cane) Ready!

(Host): Alright. We’ll give this one last shot. Computer, bring in the “Fred Astaire” set. (closes eyes and flinches)

(Computer): Bringing in “Fred Astaire” set.

(Host): (slowly opens one eye and looks around to see a set divided into four sections, with one occupied by a group of ladies all decked out in costumes with big headdresses, another occupied by the Chinatown section of London, another in a park with a statue of a man on a horse, and the other with a barren wintry landscape. Seeing the coast is clear, he unflinches and breathes a sigh of relief) Phew. Finally! (Suddenly, a piano drops on his head, knocking him out)

(Narrator): Hmm. That piano sounded out of tune. Oh, well. (pulls the unconscious Host out from under the piano and drags him offstage) Anyways, back to Fred. Compared to some of the many stars who had multiple segments planned that, for one reason or another didn’t make it into the final film, Fred Astaire managed to get four segments in the movie, besting Cyd Charisse and Lucille Bremer, who were tied at two each (while everybody else had one). Even then, Fred still had at least one segment cut, the song “If Swing Goes, I Go Too” (a song that he himself wrote). While the footage of that song no longer exists, the recording of it does. However, that was not included (for some reason) as an extra on the recent Blu-ray release.

Anyways, to get back to what is actually in the movie, after William Powell’s Ziegfeld introduces the idea behind the movie (in what little exists for a “plot”), he hands things off to Fred Astaire to start things off. Fred introduces everything with a few kind words about Ziegfeld, concluding with a reminder that Ziegfeld was a specialist in glorifying girls before launching into singing the song “Here’s To the Girls.” After singing the song and dancing (very, very briefly) with Cyd Charisse, he leaves the stage, leaving Cyd to dance with some other chorus girls, before we have a merry-go-round with ladies all dressed in pink, leading up to Lucille Ball leading a group of cat-like dancers (with a whip in hand). Of course, after glorifying the ladies, Virginia O’Brien shows up on horseback to “Bring On The Wonderful Men” (although it’s just her onscreen, without any men showing up). Neither song is necessarily that great, but they do help start off the proceedings quite well.

Moving on from there, we have Fred’s third appearance in this film (I know I’m doing this out of order, but we’ll get to his second appearance in a bit), dancing alongside Lucille Bremer for the song “Limehouse Blues.” Now, one thing that should be said here. Fred was worried about his song “If Swing Goes, I Go Too” becoming dated (because of the style of music), which is why that was deleted, but, among his song-and-dance routines that survived, “Limehouse Blues” has fared worse over time, with both him and Lucille Bremer made up to look Asian in appearance. But, if you can get past that, this is a wonderful routine that is out of the ordinary for Fred Astaire. For one thing, it’s a bit more balletic, with him doing some tricks like cartwheels, and, for another, both he and Lucille work with fans throughout the dream sequence. In spite of it’s issues, it’s still a very interesting routine that shows how well he could do with a variety of dance styles.

(Host): (Walking back onstage) Have you gotten to Fred and Gene yet?

(Narrator): No, I was just getting there. Fred’s last appearance in the film is for the song “The Babbitt And The Bromide,” which was originally written by the Gershwins for the Broadway show Funny Face starring Fred and his sister Adele. This time, Fred was paired with up-and-comer Gene Kelly, with the two of them providing the choreography for the different sections of the song. Before starting the song, they both rather amusingly reference each other’s big partners (obviously, for Fred it was Ginger Rogers, but for Gene, it was Rita Hayworth, since Cover Girl was still Gene’s big breakthrough at that point). Whatever the case, it’s still a lot of fun to see the two of them dancing together in their prime, as that was to be the only time they could work anything out (yes, I know they also danced together in That’s Entertainment, Part 2, but that was with them both nearly thirty years older than they were here).

(Host): Ok, that’s all fine and dandy, but what about “This Heart Of Mine?”

(Narrator): Yes, I know you’ve been leading to that one, but that’s why we’ve saved the best for last.

(A moving sidewalk starts up underneath the Host, who starts walking to keep up with it)

(Host): This isn’t too bad. Anyways, “This Heart Of Mine” is, in some respects, a shorter version of the story for the other Fred Astaire and Lucille Bremer film, Yolanda And The Thief, with Fred playing a thief out to steal something from Lucille Bremer’s wealthy character.

(The Narrator pulls out a remote and presses a button. The moving sidewalk starts to move faster, forcing the Host to start jogging, then running.)

(Host): (Running out of breath) That’s not so easy! (Angrily points at the Narrator) You were planning this, weren’t y- (Host trips and falls on the moving sidewalk, which is going so fast now that he practically flies offstage. A commotion is heard backstage as he crashes into various objects.)

(Narrator): And off he goes again. Getting back to the “This Heart Of Mine” segment, it’s arguably one of the film’s best moments. We’ve got Fred and Lucille doing a ballroom dance together, with a beautiful piece of music to back them up. I know I like it, and the song itself gives me chills, especially when the chorus sings it near the end. It’s a longer song, clocking in at over ten minutes, but it’s well worth it for me.

Overall, I find this to be a very enjoyable film. As I’ve indicated, it’s a bit uneven, but, let’s be fair. As a revue, it’s going to be hard to keep everything good. Whatever the case, it’s one I’ve seen many times over the years. Most of the music is good, and there’s some fantastic dancing throughout (mostly provided by Fred Astaire, but there are some others doing well here, too). For me, I always like to sit through the whole thing without skipping through anything (in spite of the variation in quality of the segments). If you can get past the essentially nonexistent plot, then it’s a movie worth recommending (and certainly the best movie revue I’ve seen, even if that is a short list)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray features a new transfer that comes from a 4K scan of most of the original camera negative. While some of the original negative is gone, I would say that overall, this transfer is much improved! The detail is much better, and the colors certainly have that three-strip Technicolor look to them! The picture has been cleaned up of dirt and debris. Extras include (besides the three shorts already mentioned) a featurette on the movie and audio-only outtakes of different musical numbers that were originally planned for the movie. I certainly think that this is the best way to enjoy this movie!

(Host comes back onstage carrying a stack of pies on his left hand, and one lone pie on his right, looking like he might throw them)

(Narrator): What are you doing with those?0

(Host): Well, even though the machine is broken, we do still have a sponsor for this post who needs-

(Narrator): (interrupting) Oh, no you don’t! I’ve had enough of Pie N De Face! Now give me those pies!

(Host): Are you sure? (winks at the audience).

(Narrator): Of course I’m sure! Now let me have them!

(Host gives the audience a look. However, that look is long enough for the Narrator to act and push the lone pie into the Host’s face. The Host falls down, and the pies in his other hand go flying. The Narrator starts laughing hysterically, and then all the pies fall down, covering the both of them. They wipe the pie off their faces, look at each other, and burst into uproarious laughter.)

(Narrator): (After finally calming down) Computer, bring the curtain down.

(Computer): Bringing the curtain down.

(The whole curtain falls down from above, landing on the Host and the Narrator).

(Narrator): Well, it seems that the Writer has thrown in almost everything now.

(A kitchen sink falls from above and lands on the Narrator’s head, knocking him out)

(Host): You just had to go there, didn’t you? Well, that’s all folks!

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… The Notorious Landlady (1962)

For the second half of today’s Jack Lemmon double-feature, we’ve got his 1962 mystery/comedy The Notorious Landlady, which also stars Kim Novak and Fred Astaire!

Upon arriving in London, American diplomat William Gridley (Jack Lemmon) looks for a place to stay. He answers an ad from Carly Hardwicke (Kim Novak), who had some space to rent. At first, she was reluctant to rent to him, but he managed to win her over. Once that was settled, he offered to take her out for dinner that evening, after he checked in at his new job. A few weird things happen while Bill is with her, but for the moment, he makes nothing of it. The next day, he learns from his boss, Franklyn Ambruster (Fred Astaire), that Carly had been accused of killing her husband. He doesn’t believe that it’s possible, but Inspector Oliphant (Lionel Jeffries) of Scotland Yard pushes him to try and snoop around the house, looking for anything to prove her guilt or innocence. William starts to worry as a result of some things that the inspector said, but he is still certain of Carly’s innocence. That night, William and Carly try to grill some steaks outside, but accidentally start a fire. When it makes headlines, Mr. Ambruster threatens to send William away, but Carly intervenes. Now, Mr. Ambruster is also sure of her innocence, and he decides to help William try to prove it. However, that night, while William is talking to the inspector on the phone, a gunshot goes off in Carly’s room, and William finds her husband’s body (obviously, now he IS dead). At the trial, the inspector reveals that he had enlisted William’s help in spying on her (which he had to do when William tried to deflect the blame away from Carly towards himself). Carly is only exonerated when her elderly neighbor’s nurse, Agatha Brown (Philippa Bevans) testifies to Miles Hardwicke’s death being an accident. Afterwards, the nurse gets a pawn ticket from Carly, and Carly reveals to William that the ticket was for a candelabra that had some jewels in it (and was what her late husband was after). Realizing that it was her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Dunhill (Estelle Winwood), and not the nurse, that would have seen what happened, the two of them go searching for Mrs. Dunhill (especially after the nurse kills the pawnbroker). But, can they succeed, or will the two of them be arrested for this new murder (since they were seen leaving the scene of the crime)?

This is a movie that I’ve been enjoying seeing off and on for a number of years now. Fred Astaire was the main reason I saw the movie in the first place, and while his non-musical films can be hit-or-miss for me, this is one of his better ones. Even in his early 60s, he’s still in good shape, and even gets to do his own stunts/physical comedy here. And he also works with Jack Lemmon (it seems the two of them were friends offscreen)! Jack Lemmon’s antics throughout the movie generally keep me amused (but he also does well when the script calls for things to be more serious, too). And I love the score’s use of the classic Gershwin tune “A Foggy Day” (introduced by Fred Astaire nearly twenty-five years earlier in A Damsel In Distress)!

Now, do I think that this movie is perfect? No. In general, the plot kind of feels uneven, particularly within the last part of the movie as they introduce new elements and then try to wrap them up too quickly (and apparently even Jack Lemmon later on admitted to being confused about what was going on when he watched the movie on television). I also feel like the tone is a little inconsistent. It works for the majority of the film, but (again) really changes things up for the last few minutes, as it borders on farce (in and of itself, not a bad thing, but it’s still quite a shift from the rest of the movie). Still, this is a movie that I have fun with, and would recommend trying!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… The Notorious Landlady (1962)

This movie was released on Blu-ray by Sony Pictures Entertainment. While I don’t know enough to be able to tell on my own whether this is a 4K, 2K or HD scan, I will say that the picture is quite pristine, and the detail is excellent, making this Blu-ray one I don’t mind having in own collection, and one I would advise fans of the movie to look into!

Film Length: 2 hours, 3 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Fire Down Below (1957) – Jack Lemmon

Pal Joey (1957) – Kim Novak

Silk Stockings (1957)Fred Astaire

Estelle Winwood – Murder By Death (1976)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Film Legends Of Yesteryear (2021): Rita Hayworth in… You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)

Well, it’s February 17, and it’s time for another post of “Film Legends Of Yesteryear” featuring actress Rita Hayworth! This time, it’s her 1941 film You’ll Never Get Rich (which will be celebrating its 80th anniversary later this year), which also co-stars Fred Astaire! But, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, as we’ve got a theatrical short to start everything off!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Little Rural Riding Hood (1949)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 19 seconds)

The city wolf invites his country cousin to the city, but cannot stop him from chasing after girls. It’s yet another take on the “Little Red Riding Hood” story by Tex Avery, although this time he throws in a parody of “The Country Mouse And The City Mouse” as well! The gags may be similar to the previous Red Riding Hood Tex Avery cartoons, what with all the wolf whistling and howling, etc. but it’s still a lot of fun! I’ll admit, it feels weird hearing Pinto Colvig voicing the country wolf, since I very much associate his voice with the Disney character Goofy, and what with all the girl chasing that his character does, it’s just so completely different from what I’m used to. But, no matter how weird it is to hear a different character with his voice, this cartoon is certainly worth a few good laughs!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Theatre owner Martin Cortland (Robert Benchley) has a thing for chasing after some of the ladies in his shows. His current target is dancer Sheila Winthrop (Rita Hayworth), and he buys her a diamond bracelet. However, she refuses it when he isn’t looking, and his wife, Julia (Frieda Inescort), finds it. He tries to alibi by saying that he bought it for his choreographer, Robert Curtis (Fred Astaire), who wanted to give it to Sheila. Julia doesn’t believe him, and threatens him with divorce. So, Martin tries to get Robert to help cover for him by going out with Sheila and giving her the bracelet (in front of Martin and Julia, of course). At first, Sheila is thrilled to go out with Robert since she has a crush on him, but when he gives her the bracelet, she leaves in a huff. However, a newspaperman had taken a photo of the two, and the next day, the headlines were that the two were practically engaged. Robert goes to her apartment to straighten everything out, but her boyfriend, Tom Barton (John Hubbard), decides to play a trick on Robert, chasing him away. He returns to the theatre, where Martin tells him that he has been drafted, much to Robert’s delight. Of course, even in the army, Robert finds himself in trouble when he dreams of Sheila and slugs the top sergeant (Donald MacBride), resulting in him being sent to the guardhouse. While he is in there, he sees Sheila outside, and tries to pass himself off as a captain inspecting the guardhouse (but, of course, she doesn’t believe him). When he gets out, he “borrows” a captain’s uniform to go visit her, but he finds himself in trouble when he discovers that Tom is a captain (and that he had “borrowed” the uniform of one of his friends). He is sent back to the guardhouse, but he is starting to get back in Sheila’s good graces again. While he is in there, Martin comes to see Colonel Shiller (Boyd Davis) and offers to put on a show for the men, with Robert’s help. Robert is enthusiastic about the idea, but he quickly learns that Martin plans to have his new mistress, Sonya (Osa Massen), be the leading lady for the show. Robert quickly puts the kibosh on that and casts Sheila instead. However, with Sonya pushing, Martin tries a different angle, by framing it so that it looks like Robert and Sonya are having an affair. At first, Sheila doesn’t believe it, but when she sees Robert’s surprise gift of the bracelet (you know, the one that started the whole mess) with Sonya’s name on it (Martin’s doing), she decides to leave both Robert and the show. To get revenge on Martin, Robert calls his wife Julia and has her come down to visit. With Sonya out of the picture, Robert convinces his friends Kewpie Blain (Guinn Williams) and Swivel Tongue (Cliff Nazarro) to create a word-of-mouth demand for Sheila to come back in the show. But, with Martin reticent to say anything about what really transpired, can Robert convince Sheila of the truth?

In 1941, Rita Hayworth was an up-and-coming star. She had scored some hits with the movies The Strawberry Blonde (for Warner Brothers) and Blood And Sand (for 20th Century Fox). But, she was under contract to Columbia Pictures (which hadn’t figured out what to do with her yet), and those two films were loan outs to rival studios. Not only that, she had been dancing professionally for years, having learned under her father Eduardo Cansino, but movie audiences didn’t exactly know it. So, when she was cast opposite famed dancer Fred Astaire (a friend of her father’s from vaudeville), she was finally given a chance to show what she could do. Not too far into the movie, they danced together, and she shows everyone that she is able to keep up with him quite easily. You’ll Never Get Rich was a success, propelling her to superstardom, and she was teamed up with Fred one more time a year later for You Were Never Lovelier.

You’ll Never Get Rich was one of three Fred Astaire musicals with a score provided by composer Cole Porter (four, if you count the song “Night And Day” being the only tune retained from the Broadway show for the film The Gay Divorcee). Of the three, I consider this the weaker score, but it’s still a lot of fun, and one or two songs usually get stuck in my head every time I watch it! And I’m certain to get a few good laughs out of Cliff Nazarro’s character of Swivel Tongue, who is prone to speaking in “double talk,” confusing some of the people he talks to. He even gets a shot at speaking it when drilling some of the other recruits (in a bit that reminds me strongly of Abbott and Costello’s “Drill Bit” routine from Buck Privates)! Sure, some things haven’t aged well, such as Robert Benchley’s theatre owner/producer and his reliance on the “casting couch” (not literal here, just referring to his chasing after some of the female cast members and offering them better roles), not to mention the wedding near the end of the movie (a little too much of a spoiler to say much else). However, it’s still a fun musical, and one I enjoy sticking on every now and then! So, I would certainly recommend seeing it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of the twelve film Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate Collection from Mill Creek Entertainment or individually from Twilight Time. I think both Blu-rays use the same transfer (with minor differences, if any), which is quite good. Personally, I prefer the Twilight Time release, but, for the price and overall content, the twelve film collection from Mill Creek will do in a pinch.

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Broadway Melody Of 1940 (1940)Fred AstaireHoliday Inn (1942)

Music In My Heart (1940) – Rita Hayworth – Tonight And Every Night (1945)

Nice Girl? (1941) – Robert Benchley – The Major And The Minor (1942)

Music In My Heart (1940)Rita Hayworth: The Ultimate CollectionTonight And Every Night (1945)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

“Star Of The Month (February 2021)” Featuring Clark Gable in… Dancing Lady (1933)

I’m back again to continue celebrating Clark Gable as my Star Of The Month, and this time around, I’m doing his 1933 film Dancing Lady, also starring Joan Crawford!  Of course, as usual, we’ve got a few theatrical shorts to get things started, and then it’s on with the show!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Mess Production (1945)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 7 minutes, 7 seconds)

Factory workers Popeye and Bluto have to rescue Olive when she gets knocked for a loop by a swinging grappling hook. Apparently the first cartoon to sport a new design for Olive that would be continued, going forward. This one was fun, with all the gags of the boys trying to rescue her (and fight each other off at the same time). It was better than the previous two, with Jack Mercer again voicing Popeye. Admittedly, the whole gag of Olive sleepwalking after being hit in the head does kind of drag on, but it’s still fun enough to be worth seeing every now and then!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Plane Nuts (1933)

(available as an extra on the Dancing Lady DVD from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 19 minutes, 41 seconds)

Ted Healy and the Stooges perform onstage.  From what I can tell, this short apparently filmed part of their stage act, including Bonnie Bonnell, and was interspersed with clips from some Busby Berkeley choreographed numbers from the film Flying High.  Honestly, I don’t really care for Ted Healy as much here, but the Stooges themselves are at least somewhat fun.  As far as the dance numbers, I’d really rather see the film they came from, as they just seem out of place with everything else going on here.  Interesting but otherwise forgettable short.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Roast Beef And Movies (1934)

(available as an extra on the Dancing Lady DVD from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 16 minutes, 16 seconds)

Three men try to peddle their ideas to a movie producer, who offered up a lot of money to someone who could come up with a big idea.  This color short (made in Two-Color Technicolor or something similar, if I am guessing correctly) is a rare short that features Curly Howard (here billed as “Jerry Howard”) apart from his fellow Stooges Moe and Larry.  Given that he is not a prominent member of the trio, and the short is comprised of several sequences (two of which are borrowed from other films), it’s not particularly memorable.  They do attempt to use some Stooges-type of humor, but it really doesn’t work without the actual Stooges team.  At best, this one is only to be seen by fans of Curly, and otherwise should be avoided.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Dancer Janie Barlow (Joan Crawford) is doing a striptease in a burlesque theatre along with her friend Rosette LaRue (Winnie Lightner) and a number of other ladies, when the police raid the place and arrest them all.  Janie is sentenced to jail since she can’t pay her fine, but she is soon bailed out by rich socialite Tod Newton (Franchot Tone).  While he is interested in her, she would prefer to consider the bail money just a loan (which she intends to pay back).  With her newfound freedom, Janie opts not to go back to the burlesque theatre, and instead starts looking for work as a dancer on Broadway.  She tries to get into the show directed by Patch Gallagher (Clark Gable), even following him everywhere to get his attention, but her methods don’t work.  She runs back into Tod again, who offers to help her get her foot in the door with a letter of introduction to Patch’s producer, Jasper Bradley, Sr. (Grant Mitchell).  Jasper is delighted and has his son, Junior (Maynard Holmes) bring Janie to Patch for an audition.  Believing her to be a no-talent, Patch hands her off to his stage manager Steve (Ted Healy) to get rid of her.  However, she manages to impress Steve (and then Patch), and is given a job in the show.  Secretly, Tod offers to help finance the show in hopes of getting Janie to like him.  He proposes to her, but she wants to have her chance at stardom before she’s ready to settle down.  As the rehearsals go on, Patch decides to change things up, and promotes Janie to a starring role.  However, Tod decides to pull his backing, and the two Bradleys close the show (without telling everyone the real reason).  Tod almost immediately whisks Janie away on a trip to Cuba, while Patch decides to finance the show himself, with things going back to the way they were.  But, can he pull the show off?  And will Janie indeed give up on her dream of dancing?  Only watching the movie will tell!

Oh, where to begin with this one?  Joan Crawford, who had successfully transitioned from silent movies to talkies, was coming off a few flops and in need of a big hit.  The film was given to producer David O. Selznick, who was inspired by Warner’s recent success with 42nd Street and put together his own team for this film.  Joan Crawford had some choice in casting, and picked Clark Gable, for what would be the fourth of eight movies pairing the two.  The critics weren’t overly enthusiastic for the movie, but audiences of the time were, making it a big hit for MGM.

This is one of those movies where it’s just as much fun to see cast members who made it big AFTER this movie.  We have Eve Arden making a very quick cameo.  We have Nelson Eddy singing the song “That’s The Rhythm Of The Day.”  We’ve got the Three Stooges (although they were still stuck with Ted Healy at the time, and therefore are mostly in the background for the majority of the movie).  We’ve got a quick appearance from Sterling Holloway.  And, of course, we’ve got Fred Astaire making his film debut, playing himself (and getting introduced by Clark Gable)!

I can’t deny the fact that this is essentially MGM’s version of 42nd Street, from the very similar story to the Busby Berkeley-esque dance routines.  I would definitely say that I prefer Dancing Lady, as I’ve seen it many more times.  It does still have similar issues, with a lead female (Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street and Joan Crawford here) being featured as a big dance star (but whose skills don’t really look that good, especially in hindsight).  If Joan Crawford has any advantage, it’s her two dance routines with Fred Astaire, where her dancing looks a bit more polished.  Of course, those two songs (“Heigh Ho, The Gang’s All Here” and “Let’s Go Bavarian”) are some of the most fun tunes in the film (and are generally stuck in my head for a while afterwards)!  It’s not quite as much fun to watch Fred here, as neither the choreography nor the camerawork is as good as most would expect after watching his later films.  To be fair, I blame most of that on this being his first film, before he became big enough to have more control on how his dancing was filmed.  Not to mention the fact that his stuff was filmed over a two week period (and it shows, with his appearances and disappearances within the movie feeling quite random).

But, I digress.  I still need to talk about Clark Gable (after all, HE is the “Star Of The Month”).  While he may not have been the reason I originally saw this movie, I can’t deny that I have enjoyed Clark Gable’s performance in this film.  In him we have a very street smart director, one who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to tell his producer that.  Not to mention, he knows how to deal with the producer’s “demands” (such as when he is told to give Joan Crawford’s Janie Barlow an audition).  Of course, he’s not a pure tough guy, either, as his own insecurities come to light when he is forced to produce his show with his own money (and, lucky for him, Janie comes around to help pull him out of the funk he slips into).  All in all, this is a wonderful movie that I enjoy coming back to again and again, and therefore, I would definitely recommend it!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

No Man Of Her Own (1932)Clark GableIt Happened One Night (1934)

Franchot Tone – Mutiny On The Bounty (1935)

Fred AstaireTop Hat (1935)

Robert Benchley – Nice Girl? (1941)

Nelson EddyNaughty Marietta (1935)

Professional Sweetheart (1933) – Sterling Holloway – Alice In Wonderland (1933)

Eve Arden – Having Wonderful Time (1938)

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An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2019) with… Holiday Inn (1942)

It’s certainly time for a holiday celebration, and what better movie than the classic Holiday Inn (1942), starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Pinch Singer (1936)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 (1935-1936) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 17 minutes, 26 seconds)

A local radio station holds an amateur talent contest with a $50 prize. The Eagles Club (that’s the Gang) decide to have Darla (Darla Hood) perform, but when she’s late, it’s up to Alfalfa (Carl Switzer) to go on in her place! This was yet another fun short! Some of the fun was in seeing various other kids (not otherwise connected with the Little Rascals) performing to various songs. Of course, with the regular cast, the auditions where Alfalfa attempted to sing (but kept getting the gong), and Buckwheat (Billie Thomas) lip-synching (if you can call it that, since he’s supposed to be whistling) to a record were comic bits that all managed to keep me laughing! There are a few problematic moments, such as Alfalfa wearing blackface as a “disguise” during one of his auditions, and another trio also wearing blackface during their performance. But, realistically, these moments didn’t really detract from this short that much, as I thought it was entertaining throughout (and I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing it again)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Jim Hardy (Bing Crosby), Ted Hanover (Fred Astaire) and Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) are a song-and-dance team working together in nightclubs. Jim, who is in love with Lila, has decided to retire from show business, marry Lila, and live on a farm. Lila loves Jim, but she also loves Ted and wants to keep dancing, so she decides to stick with the act. Jim still goes to live on the farm, but his dreams of a lazy life are quickly proven false. So, instead, he comes up with an idea to turn the farm into an inn that is open holidays only (as in, only fifteen days a year). Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds), a wannabe singer and dancer, is steered his way by Jim’s former manager, Danny Reed (Walter Abel), and she gets the job at the inn. On New Year’s Eve (when Jim’s “Holiday Inn” opens), Ted learns that Lila has left him to marry a millionaire, and, after getting drunk, makes his way to the inn. Upon his arrival, he dances with Linda, but passes out at the end of the dance. However, the audience appreciated the dance, and the late arriving Danny is ecstatic about the reception to Ted’s “new partner.” However, Danny never saw who Ted’s partner was, and, upon waking up in the morning, Ted doesn’t remember what she looked like, either. Jim (who likes Linda), sees Ted’s reaction of falling for his new partner (even if he doesn’t know who she is or what she looks like), decides to try to hide Linda’s existence at the inn on the next few holidays. However, it’s not enough, and Ted and Danny do find out who she is. However, Ted and Danny want to take her away from the inn, but she’s promised to stay at the inn (and she thinks she is engaged to Jim). So, Ted comes to the inn under the guise of wanting to work with them and “enjoy life’s simple pleasures.” Jim is suspicious of Ted’s motives, which is all but confirmed when, on July 4, he overhears Ted and Danny discussing some Hollywood agents who are coming to the inn to see Ted and Linda perform. Jim tries to keep Linda away, but she still manages to arrive (although after the show). Jim and Linda have an argument and break up, with Linda going to Hollywood with Ted while Jim stays at the inn. The question remains: will her Hollywood success with Ted be enough, or will Jim be able to convince her to return to the inn (and him)?

In 1917, composer Irving Berlin wrote a song called “Smile And Show Your Dimple.” It didn’t enjoy much success initially. At least, not until he repurposed the music for the 1933 Broadway musical revue As Thousands Cheer, in which he gave it new lyrics and a new title: “Easter Parade.” With the song now a hit, Irving Berlin came up with the idea to have a revue based on the various American holidays. On the stage, this idea never got off the ground, but a meeting with movie director Mark Sandrich (who had collaborated with Irving Berlin on three of the Astaire-Rogers pictures) resulted in them pursuing the idea for a film. Since they were both at Paramount Pictures, they wanted to go with the studio’s big musical star, Bing Crosby, and decided to bring in Fred Astaire (who had been freelancing after his contract with RKO had ended a few years before). Big female stars like Ginger Rogers and Rita Hayworth were considered, but a budget-conscious Paramount had fought hard enough against Fred being cast (since he and Bing were two of Hollywood’s highest paid stars), so they ended up going with some unknowns for the female leads, nightclub dancer Virginia Dale and Marjorie Reynolds (who had up to that point been known for her roles in various Poverty Row Westerns). The resulting film went over well with audiences, with the song “Be Careful, It’s My Heart” becoming a hit at first. The song “White Christmas” (which won Irving Berlin his only Oscar for “Best Song”) became more of a hit over time due to the war and homesick soldiers requesting it on the Armed Forces Radio.

I will readily admit that the song “White Christmas” is one that I enjoy listening to (as long as there isn’t any actual snow on the ground), but I can also definitely say that there are a few other songs and dances that I enjoy in this movie. One of them is the song “You’re Easy To Dance With,” sung and danced by Fred Astaire and Virginia Dale. Amongst Fred’s early Irving Berlin film musicals, it continues the trend of him doing a dancing-related song. He reprised it with Marjorie Reynolds at the New Year’s Eve party, except this time he was drunk (and I do mean drunk, as Fred had two drinks of bourbon before the first take, and one more between each take, with the seventh and final take being what we see in the movie). Even drunk, Fred still proves that he can dance better than others can sober.

Then, of course, there is the more patriotic song “Let’s Say It With Firecrackers” to go along with July 4. This is Fred’s big tap solo in the movie, and he worked with actual firecrackers for it! Apparently, it took about 38 attempts before Fred was satisfied with it, but it is very impressive to watch him do, just the same! Apparently, a little bit of animation was used to further emphasize some of the blasts, but I still have to give Fred credit for trying to pull this one off (and doing pretty well, at that)!

I will admit, this movie is certainly not a perfect one. I personally think that the lyrics for the song “I Can’t Tell A Lie” are rather cringeworthy, and the music itself is rather forgettable. The only redeeming quality with that song-and-dance is the fun of watching the music changing styles and “throwing off” Fred and Marjorie’s characters in their dance (since Bing’s character was trying to stop them from kissing in their dance). Then there’s the song “Abraham,” where the use of blackface really drags it down (and I have a really hard time understanding why Bing did it, especially since he had been so instrumental a few years earlier in getting Louis Armstrong cast in 1936’s Pennies From Heaven). The lyrics don’t help, either, and I certainly appreciate them not being used when the song was brought back for the “not-quite-a-remake” film White Christmas (1954) when Vera-Ellen and John Brascia danced to it. Still, in spite of those flaws, I do like this movie and would definitely recommend trying it out (for any holiday associated with this movie)!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios.

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2022) with… Holiday Inn (1942)

On November 1, 2022, Universal Studios released Holiday Inn (1942) on 4K UHD. Honestly, this is a bit of a disappointing release. The 4K disc looks terrible, with a picture that is darker at times and loses some of the detail, and grain tends to be very distracting here, as if they are working from elements (or an older transfer) that doesn’t have 4K worth of data, although there are some moments here and there where the 4K disc actually looks good. Frankly, the included Blu-ray (which appears to use the same transfer, or close enough) actually looks better throughout. The Blu-ray is lighter and the grain is nowhere near as prevalent as it is on the 4K. Also, depending on your feelings about this, the film starts with a vintage Universal logo preceding the film’s Paramount logo. I only mention this because the film was originally produced by Paramount, was part of a large group of films sold to Music Corporation Of America (MCA)/EMKA , Ltd. in the 1950s, before becoming part of Universal Studios’ library when MCA took over the studio in the 1960s. Realistically, this release is at best recommended to those who don’t have the Blu-ray already (and even then it is questionable). If you already have the Blu-ray, then don’t bother with this one. If you want either the Broadway show or the colorized version of the film (neither of which is included as extras with this release), then I would suggest going with one of the earlier Blu-ray releases.

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

My Favorite Blonde (1942)Bing CrosbyRoad To Morocco (1942)

You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)Fred AstaireThe Sky’s The Limit (1943)

Marjorie Reynolds – The Time Of Their Lives (1946)

Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire (screen team) – Blue Skies (1946)

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Original Vs. Remake: Ninotchka (1939) Vs. Silk Stockings (1957)

Now that we’re back for another edition of “Original Vs. Remake,” let’s take a look at the 1939 comedy Ninotchka and its 1957 musical remake, Silk Stockings. Since the two plots have enough differences, I’ll just borrow the two plot descriptions from each of the individual reviews.

Ninotchka: Three Russian commissars (Sig Rumann, Felix Bressart and Alexander Granach) come to Paris with the intention of selling jewelry that had once belonged to the Grand Duchess Swana (Ina Claire). However, Swana is living in Paris, and she learns about the jewels through a former Russian nobleman working at the hotel the commissars are staying at. She sends her lover, Count Leon d’Algout (Melvyn Douglas), to delay the sale of the jewelry in the hope that she can reclaim it. Leon helps introduce the commissars to some of the pleasures of Paris and capitalism, but special envoy Nina Ivanovna Yakushova, or Ninotchka (Greta Garbo) is sent to to take over the case. Leon accidentally meets her on the street, and is instantly smitten (although at first neither realizes who the other is). Once she overhears his telephone call with one of the commissars, they realize who they are with. Leon still likes her, and keeps trying to go out with her, which becomes easier after he is able to make her laugh and loosen up. Swana sees all this going on, and jealously takes advantage of Ninotchka when Ninotchka comes back to her hotel room drunk and leaves the safe containing the jewels open. Swana agrees to relinquish her rights to the jewelry if Ninotchka would immediately return to Russia, which she reluctantly agrees to do. (Length: one hour, fifty-two minutes)

Silk Stockings: Movie producer Steve Canfield (Fred Astaire) wants Russian composer Peter Boroff’s (Wim Sonneveld) music for his new movie, and tries to help him stay in Paris. The Russian government is displeased with this, and sends three commissars (Jules Munshin, Peter Lorre and Joseph Buloff) to bring him back. When Steve distracts them with wine, women and song, special envoy Nina Yoschenko (Cyd Charisse) is sent to try again. She proves to be more resilient, but as the attraction between the two develops, even she manages to loosen, and Steve proposes to her. However, when Nina, Peter and the three commissars hear how Peter’s music has been changed for the movie, they are all offended and they all return to Russia. (Length: one hour, fifty-eight minutes)

This is another instance where it’s not really worth noting the similarities. With Silk Stockings being a remake of Ninotchka (with a Broadway musical in between the two film versions), there is definitely some similar dialogue. We do get George Tobias in both movies, although he plays different parts in each movie (and neither are very long). But really, not much else beyond the very basic story is the same.

So let’s get some of those obligatory surface differences out of the way. First, Ninotchka = comedy, Silk Stockings = musical. Secondly, outside of the leading lady’s character having the same first name (and nickname), none of the characters share names between the two movies. Thirdly, Ninotchka had the Russians coming to sell some jewelry to buy food for the Russian people, with the sale being delayed by the original owner and her lover. Silk Stockings has the Russians coming after a Russian composer who is seeking asylum and providing music for a movie producer, who is trying to prevent him being taken back to Russia.

There are certainly some differences in characterization, but the three commissars do seem to be a bit more vivid. In Ninotchka, when we first meet them, they are already showing signs of wanting to enjoy some of the benefits of staying in a capitalistic society. Instead of staying in the hotel their government had already arranged for, they are arguing themselves into a better and classier hotel, and decide to go with the royal suite, at least partly because it has a safe for them to store the jewels in. In Silk Stockings, since they are coming after Boroff the composer, it’s up to Fred’s Steve Canfield to distract them with the glitz and glamour, almost like a devil who knows how to tempt some of the people he has to deal with and keep them from their mission.

Another major difference, to me, is how the two movies treat the Russians. While Ninotchka is intended as a comedy and a satire of communism, the Russians are not being portrayed in a completely negative light. Sure, the three commissars want to enjoy the benefits of capitalism away from their own country and we see some of the problems of communism itself (including the reference to the then-recent mass trials that resulted in “fewer and better Russians”), but the fact remains that they are in Paris to sell the jewelry to buy more food for their people. Which really puts the Grand Duchess Swana in a bad light, as she just wants her jewels and doesn’t really seem to care at all what happens to the Russian people. And, to a degree, Melvyn Douglas’s Count Leon comes around to the idea of communism, at most, being frustrated with the Russian government for denying him a visa to come and see Ninotchka when she goes back to Russia. Silk Stockings goes a different route, not portraying them as well. In between them trying to force composer Peter Boroff to return (and the three commissars), the political philosophy is never embraced by Fred Astaire’s Steve Canfield (which in some respects injects a bit of sexism and American disregard for other cultures into the story, considering it is used as this story’s excuse to separate the two lovers and have her return to Russia of her own free will). Personally, I suspect this change was partly due to how society changed between the two movies, in between the start of the Cold War and the anti-communist feelings that had swept the country.

As to which movie I prefer? Silk Stockings. It’s been the version of the story that I’ve seen the most (and for many more years). While I do think Greta Garbo was the better actress (both overall and in this role), I still can’t deny that, for me, Fred Astaire brings a magic of his own, that I have enjoyed for a number of years. Not to mention my opinion that I much prefer watching Cyd’s Ninotchka transformation between Fred dancing with her to “All Of You” and Cyd’s solo dance to the title tune as she changes from her drab outfit into a dress. The music by Cole Porter is catchy, the dancing is fun to watch, and it’s just overall easier to sit down and watch Silk Stockings. I can’t deny there are some things that require either seeing Ninotchka or at least some knowledge of what the Soviet Union was like, such as the one guy who passes through Ninotchka’s living area (in Ninotchka, we are given the explanation that he is the type that you can never tell whether he is just going to the washroom or to the secret police, and that explanation is absent when he walks through during the “Red Blues” number in Silk Stockings). But, while I do prefer Silk Stockings, Ninotchka is no slouch, either, and I would definitely recommend both movies highly!

Ninotchka

My Rating: 9/10

Silk Stockings

My Rating: 10/10

The Winner (in my opinion): Silk Stockings