Friday, May 1, 2009

Chance is the fool's name for fate, my lad...

When I first set out to write this blog, I had planned to write reviews just about every week on movies old and new - both in terms of when they were made and when I had seen them. However, with the exception of holiday films, I have pretty much been sticking to movies that I'd recently seen for the first time. As this was not my original intent, I'm now going to go back to it and review an old classic for me:
The Gay Divorcee (1934)

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers make up one of my all-time favorite Hollywood couples. For years, my favorite Fred and Ginger film was The Gay Divorcee. "Night and Day" remains one of my favorite Fred and Ginger dances, although I can now see the silliness within the movie.

The basic plot is as follows: (although it's hard to be basic because, in my opinion, the plot is relatively convoluted) Guy Holden (Astaire) is a famous dancer (naturally) who falls for Mimi Glossop (Rogers). Unfortunately, Mimi is already married, but she is working on getting a divorce with the help of Guy's friend, lawyer Eggbert Fitzgerald (Edward Everett-Horton). With a small mix-up in quotes and codewords, Mimi believes that Guy is the correspondent hired to help her get a divorce - and she isn't too happy about it! See what I mean? Convoluted! And I'm leaving out a lot.

The film was the first to cast Fred and Ginger in starring roles together, which has its pros and its cons. On the one hand, they are still new as dancing partners and have (in my opinion) a nice raw quality to their dancing that is a little different from their later polished style. In "Night and Day," in particular, she seems very loose and he seems very stiff - almost cariacatures of the expression that "He gives her class. She gives him sex." I think in later films they toned down their styles to blend together more, but the contrasting styles really add to the number.

On the other hand, RKO did not seem too confident in their new stars and boosted them with several comedic sidecharacters. While the characters are funny, they're also very silly and sometimes steal focus.

The music is fun, if a bit cooky (look for a very young Betty Grable). "The Continental" won an Oscar for Best Song. And, as I said before, "Night and Day" is one of my favorite songs by them.

So if you're looking for something fun and light and a little bit wacky, then check out The Gay Divorcee. It won't disappoint and it's a very important part of the Fred and Ginger canon.


  1. i like the idea of reviewing old movies.

  2. Thanks! I guess I'll do it more often then!


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