Review: Swing Time, seen on March 1st

Swing Time (George Stevens, 1936) – Being in the mood for something lighter (not to say better), and having never seen a Ginger Rogers / Fred Astaire dance flick, being a huge musicals fan you can say the least I expected was simply a mildly amusing feel good movie. Well, there’s way more than that. Fred Astaire plays a dancer who in the day of his wedding is tricked by his dancing partners into missing his own wedding. After disappointing the poor little bride, he agrees with his fiancé’s father to find 25000$ in order to be allowed to marry her again. In search for success, he arrives to New York penniless with his partner, Pop (Victor Moore). There he follows Ginger Roger’s character to a dancing academy and this is what really sets this wonderful story into motion.

I won’t go on any further on the story, but I can assure you every musical number is impeccably performed, choreographed, and shot (one of the final musical sequences involves Fred Astaire in a blackface on a number that could be very easily considered distasteful in retrospective, but thanks to the impeccable choreography is very easy to just forget the context and admire it for the flawless technicality of it). Somewhere between the middle of the film our characters start breaking into singing for no reason, which could be very easily considered discrepant to the path the film had been choosing til that point, but the intent is so pure and heartfelt, and the result is so beautiful, I don’t even think I mind that much. Beautiful, sparkling chemistry between the leads carry the whole film like a breath of fresh air, and the supporting performances by Victor Moore and Helen Broderick as Ginger’s co-worker/friend/roommate can very easily make you laugh in the less cheerful moments of the film. All in all, a wonderful deservedly classic musical that most certainly won’t be the last of Fred & Ginger’s films I’ll be seeing. Rating: A-

The Oscar winning song “The Way You Look Tonight”, from the film.
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