What I knew going in - I've seen clips of all of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' dances together.
I went for something a little ambitious. I knew I wanted to watched some of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' films, but couldn't decide which one to pick, so I went with both.
For Top Hat, Jerry Travers (Astaire) is an American actor who goes to England and falls in love with a woman Dale Tremont (Rogers) that he initially annoyed. In turn, she mistakes him for a famous producer.
The funny thing about Top Hat is how much I felt like I didn't miss once I saw this film in its full context. I had only ever seen the dance numbers, and to be honest I didn't feel like I missed much at all. The film was funny at times, but it has a solid 20 minutes or so that are insanely boring and I'm surprised a film this sprightly came to a screeching halt like that. Over all, I enjoyed it. Petty side note: I read that Astaire didn't want Rogers to wear that fluffy gown she wore during one of their dances so seeing all those feathers fly off her made me laugh)
Now let's talk about Swing Time. In this one, Astaire plays a performer and gambler named Lucky who goes to New York to earn $25,000 in order to marry his fiance. Her father adds that stipulation when Lucky arrives late to his own wedding. There he meets Penny (Rogers) a dance instructor who - much like Top Hat - he initially annoys, but when he saves her job they start to fall in love with each other.
The chemistry between them was even better, the dances more elaborate. I loved the snowy scenes they incorporated in there, this was all going so well....and then Fred Astaire ends up in black face. I immediately went online after the fact because surely I'm not the only idiot who didn't know this was coming, and it turns out there's a fair amount of discourse on how this was "okay" because it was a tribute to arguably the greatest tap dancer ever - Bill Robinson. I started thinking about that part in Sicario where Alejandro tells Kate "nothing will make sense to your American ears." This doesn't make sense to my modern eyes either, it's racist. "Good intentions" don't make it right and I'm cringing into oblivion. Imagine dancing that same dance without black face. You could still honor his style. What a concept.
I realize it's my fault for not knowing about that scene to begin with but it really drops the quality of the movie over all. Removing that scene all together, that movie would've been an easy A.
So where did we end up with grades?
Top Hat - B-
Swing Time - C+
Memorable Quote: "This was made in the 30's? And you expected what now?" - My husband, who never mustered up a fuck about my tap dancing movies to begin with.