Top Hat

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

An American dancer, Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) comes to London to star in a show produced by the bumbling Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton). While practicing a tap dance routine in his hotel bedroom, he awakens Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers) on the floor below. She storms upstairs to complain, whereupon Jerry falls hopelessly in love with her and proceeds to pursue her all over London.

Dale mistakes Jerry for Horace, who is married to her friend Madge (Helen Broderick). Following the success of Jerry’s opening night in London, Jerry follows Dale to Venice, where she is visiting Madge and modelling/promoting the gowns created by Alberto Beddini (Erik Rhodes), a dandified Italian fashion designer with a penchant for malapropisms.

Jerry proposes to Dale, who, while still believing that Jerry is Horace, is disgusted that her friend’s husband could behave in such a manner and agrees instead to marry Alberto. Fortunately, Bates (Eric Blore), Horace’s meddling English valet, disguises himself as a priest and conducts the ceremony; Horace had sent Bates to keep tabs on Dale.

On a trip in a gondola, Jerry manages to convince Dale and they return to the hotel where the previous confusion is rapidly cleared up. The reconciled couple dance off into the Venetian sunset, to the tune of “The Piccolino”.

REVIEW:

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the “it” couple back in the day. Admittedly, Top Hat is only the second time I’ve seen them on screen together. The other being Swing Time. From what I’ve heard from others about this film, I’m sure to enjoy this, right?

What is this about?

This joyous Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical features an Irving Berlin score and the classic duet “Cheek to Cheek.” Astaire stars as Jerry Travers, a singer-dancer who auditions some new moves for producer Horace Hardwick at his hotel. The beautiful Dale Tremont (Rogers) is staying downstairs and the wackiness begins when she mistakes Jerry for Horace in this romantic comedy that received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.

What did I like?

Dance, dance, dance. Fred Astaire is one of those people who can draw an audience in without saying a word. All he has to do I dance. Arguably one of the best dancers to grace the screen, he is also a good singer and actor. Compare him and Gene Kelly (the best example of this is their scene in Ziegfeld Follies) …good luck picking who is the better of the two.

Chemistry. Aside from the obvious chemistry between Astaire and Ginger Rogers, I was really impressed with how well the cast as a whole came together. As a whole they seemed to work like a well-oiled machine, something we don’t get to see too often in films of yesterday and today.

Golden voice. You may not know the actor, but if you watched the Rocky & Bullwinkle show, then you will recognize his voice from the Fractured Fairytales segments. Edward Everett Horton plays a pretty major role as the producer of Astaire’s show and is quite good in the role, especially with the likes of Fred Astaire to play against.

What didn’t I like?

Addendum. The last 30 minutes or so of this film just seemed to drag on. I would say that I had lost interest, but that wasn’t the case, as the best songs take place during this part, but I just couldn’t get into it.

Identity thief. A major plot point is the case of mistaken identity, but this doesn’t come into play until after the halfway point. Well, at least that’s when it seems to become the focal point. I guess I’m just a little wary on the identity thing after recently watching Identity Thief, so it didn’t really work for me.

Fred Astaire is one of the best entertainers to ever grace the big screen, especially when he’s paired with Ginger Rogers. Top Hat is passable entertainment with its enjoyably plot, memorable songs, and breathtaking dance scenes. However, the flimsy plot hurts it more than anything and I just had trouble staying with the goings on. With that being said, though, I still recommend this as something to check out. It isn’t a bad film, just not the best. Give it a shot sometime!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

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