Sunday, 26 February 2017
Blind Spot Series: Top Hat
With a connection from my last Blind Spot, Purple Rose of Cairo, this month's pick was featured. I haven't seen that many Fred and Ginger films but my favourite is 'The Gay Divorcee' which actually has a similiar storyline. Hailed as 'the' Fred and Ginger film to watch, its even been turned into a West End hit (which I missed when it was on) its a film my whole family have seen but again, I managed to miss it.
About 5 minutes into Top Hat I realised I had seen bits of the film. In fact I've seen the opening song and Astaire's tap dance that wakes up Rogers quite a few times. I have also seen the ending a few times too. Luckily the middle was all new to me.
In the tradition of screwball musical romantic comedies, the story is all about confusion as well as one hell of laid back wife and a highly amusing valet. Astaire is talented dancer Jerry who is in London to star in a new show produced by his friend Horace Hardwick. Jerry awakens Dale (Rogers) while tap dancing during the night and when she storms in to confront him, he falls in love at first sight. He follows her around town and to Venice where she is visting her friend, Horace's wife, Madge. Dale mistakes Jerry for Horace is horrified at his behaviour but is also falling love with him. Throughout the silliness, there are some great songs including 'No Strings (I'm fancy free)' and the amazingly beautiful 'Cheek to Cheek'.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made 10 films together, which accumulated to 33 partnered dances. 'Cheek to Cheek' is one of the most famous dance sequences not just for Rogers' exquisite dress. The couple really are wonderfull together as they glide across the screen with ease. Performed at an important moment in the amsung plot, Jerry is in love with Dale and wants to propose, Dale still thinks he is Madge's husband but can't help herself letting go and enojing being with Jerry. Dancing around a large studio standing in place for an Italian hotel they literally have the space to themselves.
With the music and dancing already perfect, the comedy is taken care of thanks to misunderstandings and the rest of the gang. Madge Hardwick upon hearing that her husband has supposedly been flirting with Dale, meering acts slightly surprised and dry about it, but tortures and confuses her bumbling husband who really has no idea what's going on as he is more concerned about a petty argument he has ongoing with his strange valet who seems to end up in wrong place at the right time. The screwball is turned up to a fantastic amount when Beddini, an Italian fashion designer and friend of Dale gets involved and towards the end keeps branding his sword.
As the most successful of the Fred and Ginger musicals, you can see the appeal of the story that is excellent escapism, especially for those who would have seen it in 1935 during the depression. The film may be of a certain time but it is a classic and therefore timeless. I'm not very tempted to watch the other films I haven't seen of their, for a little escapism.
To see where it all started and for an excellent insight to film, have a look at The Matinee and HERE for more Blind Spot posts from other bloggers.