Monday, May 18, 2009

5/15/09: Top Hat (1935)

In a! I've never seen a Fred Astaire movie (with or without Ginger Rogers), and Top Hat was clearly the ideal starting point. Like yesterday's movie, The Matchmaker, this one is based on a play with a similarly paper-thin plot—Top Hat boils down to one romance with a mistaken-identity conceit—but the singing and dancing more than make up for any deficiencies in the story. You keep wondering: How long is Ginger going to labor under the misapprehension that Fred is actually her female friend's husband? And when is Fred going to figure out why she keeps slapping him? But then somebody starts singing one of the many terrific Irving Berlin songs, and your heart tells your brain to chill and just go with it. The screenplay is brimming with clever jokes and one-liners—although no single line is as funny as the set representing Venice, Italy, that's clearly in an antiseptic movie studio with waxed floors and prop gondolas! Both leads are in top form, attractive and magnetic as can be. Special thanks to Peter Boulding in the UK for recommending this "frivolous and fluffy treat." Rating: 5/5.

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