Fred Astire
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Fred Astire
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Bouncin' the Blues - Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers in 'The Barkleys of Broadway' (1949)

By Harry Warren...
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Puttin' on that Top Hat

Puttin' on that Top Hat | Fred Astire | Scoop.it
When Fred Astaire put on his top hat, tied up his white tie and brushed off his tails to collaborate with Irving Berlin, he danced his way into the hearts of cinemagoers.
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Top Hat (1935)

Top Hat (1935)

1935, RKO. Directed by Mark Sandrich. Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Erik Rhodes, Eric Blore, Helen Broderick.

Decent Films Ratings

Overall
Recommendability ?A
Artistic/
Entertainment Value ?
Moral/Spiritual
Value (+4/-4) ? -1
Age
Appropriateness ?Teens & Up

External Ratings

MPAA ?NR USCCB ?A-III

Content advisory: Romantic and marital complications, including suspicions of infidelity and references to divorce.

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Top Hat (DVD)

From a National Catholic Register review

By Steven D. Greydanus

The quintessential Fred-and-Ginger vehicle, Top Hat features some of the most glorious, memorable dance sequences ever filmed. The Irving Berlin score includes perhaps the duo’s best-known number, "Cheek to Cheek," as well as Astaire’s signature solo number, "Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails."

Like many of their pictures, Top Hat opens with Fred making a bad first impression on Ginger, then spending much of the film trying to get on her good side. This device seems to fit Astaire’s insouciant, sometimes annoying screen persona, though he’s more sympathetic and likable here than in some pictures. Their early scenes, especially the sequence in the rain at the park band shell, are appropriately light and charming, with Ginger especially believable as the young woman annoyed but not entirely displeased by Fred’s attentions.

Then the plot takes a turn for farce with a contrived case of mistaken identity, as Ginger confuses Fred with her best friend’s husband. Suitably outraged, Ginger turns to her friend, who affects cynical unconcern to Ginger — though showing a different face to her bewildered, not entirely innocent husband.

Perhaps the most unusual element in the film is the unusual "gangster tap" finale to the big "Top Hat" production number, in which Fred wields a cane like a machine gun, with sharp raps of his heels for gunfire, and drops a line of tuxedoed dancers one by one. The gangster conceit may be part of the Depression milieu; certainly the film, with its glamorous, elegant trappings, is typically escapist Depression-era fare, laced with a hint of satire. In any case, whenever Fred and Ginger are in motion, the magic is timeless.

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Mail: Re: Top Hat

Just read your review of Top Hat, and while it’s odd that you didn’t mention the killer performances by Helen Broderick, Eric Blore, and the brilliant Edward Everett Horton, I realize that there are space limitations.

Now, I know that the consensus viewpoint is sometimes, even often, wrong. But sometimes the consensus is right. I point this out because I have never heard anyone, even the tragically unimaginative types who don’t like Astaire/Rogers movies, refer to Astaire’s screen persona as “somewhat annoyng.”

Please tell me this is a typo, or you’d had a bad day, or you had someone else write the review for you, or that you weren’t thinking of Fred Astaire, you were thinking of Nicholas Cage.

Because, whether you enjoy these movies or not, it is simply an objective fact that Astaire is thoroughly charming and a gifted comedic actor, as well as a fine dancer. You might as well say Ginger Rogers isn’t pretty or doesn’t have a nice figure.

Did I say Astaire’s screen persona was “somewhat annoying”? Heh. How careless of me. What I meant to say is that he generally comes off as smug, insouciant, conceited and shallow.

I mean, really, how the heck do you star with Audrey Hepburn — Audrey Hepburn, for pity’s sake — in movie called Funny Face — and when the title song comes up, you’re the one singing about how she’s the one with the funny face? What on earth does Astaire see when he looks in the mirror, anyway?

Oh, and Mrs. Decent Films agrees with me.

Incidentally, I don’t have space limitations, I have time limitations. I write up movies in my off hours, and the amount of time I’m able to invest in a review varies wildly. Also I’m less inclined to invest a lot of energy in a review when (a) I think that others have already done the film sufficient justice and (b) I’m not sure I have anything very unique, interesting or important to say about it.

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Fred Astaire - Puttin' On the Ritz (DVD Quality)

Blue Skies - 1946....Fred Astaire - Puttin' On the Ritz (DVD Quality)
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TOP HAT, WHITE TIE AND TAILS

from Top Hat (1935) choreography by Fred Astaire and Hermes Pan music and lyrics by Irving Berlin...
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Swing Time - Rogers and Astaire

In this Swing Time clip, Lucky, Astaire, saves Penny's, Rogers, job by showing how much she has taught him. The first true dance number with the two, the oth...
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Puttin' on that Top Hat

Puttin' on that Top Hat | Fred Astire | Scoop.it

When Fred Astaire put on his top hat, tied up his white tie and brushed off his tails to collaborate with Irving Berlin, he danced his way into the hearts of cinemagoers. More than seven decades later, the daughters of the screen legend and American composer have united to help bring Top Hat to the stage for the first time.

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TOP HAT, WHITE TIE AND TAILS

from Top Hat (1935) choreography by Fred Astaire and Hermes Pan music and lyrics by Irving Berlin...
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The Band Wagon - Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse

EDIT: At the age of 86 years old, CYD CHARISSE died yesterday...REST IN PEACE CYD... This is a part of "The Band Wagon" movie. I love Fred Astaire movies and...
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Astaire Films

Astaire Films | Fred Astire | Scoop.it
Fred Astaire made only 41 films, not a lot compared to most of his contemporaries.
This could be due to the fact that he was determined to have only his best work on film,
so each of his movies was painstaklingly rehearsed -- and even then he was rarely satisfied.
But when you think about it, have you ever seen a really bad Fred Astaire performance?
Dancing Lady 1933 - Fred has a cameo role as himself, "that dancer from New York", in this otherwise routine backstage musical starring Clark Gable, Joan Crawford and Franchot Tone.
Flying Down to Rio 1933 - Fred plays sidekick to womanizing bandleader Gene Raymond. Musical numbers surround the thin story of Raymond chasing gorgeous Delores Del Rio, most importantly, Astaire's first dance on screen with Ginger Rogers. more
The Gay Divorcee 1934 - First film to star Astaire and Rogers. Ginger's trying to get a divorce and is led to believe that Fred is the hired correspondent in her case to prove apparent infidelity. But does the plot matter? It's only an excuse for the music and dancing... more
Roberta 1934 - Produced before the huge success of "The Gay Divorcee" was known, Fred and Ginger again have secondary roles, playing back-up to the romantic troubles of Randolph Scott and Irene Dunne. more
Top Hat 1935 - Fred and Ginger come into their own in this, the quintessential Astaire-Rogers movie. Fred plays a dancer chasing Ginger across several continents - she's not only very annoyed by him just on principle, but thinks he's his (married) friend Horace (the priceless Edward Everett Horton) besides. Songs by Irving Berlin include Fred's signature "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails", and the exquisite "Dancing Cheek to Cheek." more
Follow the Fleet 1936 - Fred plays a cocky sailor and Ginger his feisty former dance partner - he tries to rekindle their romance but instead keeps losing her jobs for her - which understandably causes some friction.... more
Swing Time 1936 - Fred heads for New York to make a quick bundle of money to satisfy his future father-in-law, but he finds Ginger instead of a job and his plans begin to change.... A masterpiece. more
Shall We Dance 1937 - Fred's a ballet star known as "Petrov", but he's really just plain Pete, yearning for tap, not toe, shoes. He meets up with musical comedy star Ginger and sparks fly. more
A Damsel in Distress 1937 - Fred's an American in England, coming to noblewoman Joan Fontaine's rescue when she's restricted to her father's castle to curb her 'scandalous behavior' (she doesn't want to marry the creep that Dad picked out). Great solo dancing by Astaire, some comedy bits from George Burns and Gracie Allen.
continue: Astaire Films 2 ~ Films 3 || go to Astaire TV appearances

 

A salute to the Silver Screen's greatest song-and-dance man.
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