Tag: Fred Astaire

December 22, 2011 / / Main Slate Archive

Top Hat – 1935 – dir. Mark Sandrich

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made only ten movies together but oh, what a ten they are!  Top Hat is the best of them. After Astaire’s Easter Parade, it was the most successful movie of his long career. Certainly, it is the loveliest, best-looking the pair ever made, and the most expensive to produce; the cost of the lavish Art Deco sets — what the industry used to call “The Big White Set” — reached up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, an astronomical sum for those times. Remember that this was The Depression — 1935 — and savvy movie producers knew that people suffering in a bleak economy survived by going to the movies; they flocked to the theaters in droves to live and dream vicariously, watching their favorite movie stars carouse and cavort in fabulous costumes on luxuriant sets, dressed in tuxedos and bundled up in minks, sipping champagne and tripping the Light Fantastic.

February 9, 2009 / / Film Notes

By Chris Bamberger

TOP HAT (1935) dir. Mark Sandrich

In 2007 National Public Radio played an excerpt of Fred Astaire singing “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and asked listeners to describe in a single phrase the quality of his voice. One participant’s entry was, “The boyfriend you longed for before you found out about sex.”

Oh, really?

Donald Spoto, in his biography of Audrey Hepburn, describes her one-time co-star as having “nothing erotic or even sensual about him… Fred Astaire was a gentleman up there on the screen—so much a gentleman, in fact, that there was never an atom of erotic appeal about him.”

It gets worse.

June 8, 2007 / / Film Notes

By Christine Bamberger

Silk Stockings has often been cited as one of the last great MGM musicals, and indeed it was the last to emerge from the prestigious Arthur Freed unit at the studio. It was the final romantic lead role for Fred Astaire (age 58 when it was released), and the last time Cyd Charisse, 36, would dance in a movie musical. It does not possess the dynamism of Astaire’s work of the thirties or even The Band Wagon, made only four years before, and is sometimes described as reflecting the tiredness of the genre. Still, it exhibits plenty of verve thanks to the distinctive direction of Rouben Mamoulian, whose last film this was. The director began work on a film version of Porgy and Bess and on Cleopatra, but was replaced on both projects, whereupon he returned exclusively to stage work.