Monday, February 1, 2010

Pining? Men don't pine. Girls pine. Men just...suffer.

Although I never really do much for Valentine's Day, I love themes, so this month I'm going to have a romantic theme to my posts (when possible). I'll keep Rudolph Valentino and Natacha Rambova as my header until the end of the week and then I'll switch them out with another classy couple. Today in my count-up, I'm going to discuss one of my favorite romantic teams of all time:
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in:

#14: The Gay Divorcee (1934)

Before I launch into my discussion of the film, I just have to say that I absolutely adore this poster! It's so lovely and happy! This is one of my favorite Fred and Ginger films. It has one of my all-time favorites of their dances, "Night and Day," and I just love the dialogue! An example:

Guy: It's lots of fun. I used to do it as a boy.
Mimi: I don't care what you did as a boy.
Guy: Well, I did nothing as a girl, so there goes my childhood.

The plot is relatively simple but I always have difficulty in explaining in concisely. After Guy (Astaire) meets Mimi (Rogers) for a few brief moments, he quickly falls in love with her (in typically Fred and Ginger fashion). He doesn't realize that his friend, Eggbert (Horton), a lawyer, is on a case for Mimi as her divorce attorney. Eggbert recommends Mimi acquire a divorce by staging an affair with a "correspondent" in a beachside resort. When she agrees, Eggbert meets her there, dragging Guy along. Eggbert sets up a password for the correspondent, a saying he picked up from Guy. When Guy uses this same saying to Mimi, not realizing that she's Eggbert's client, she mistakes him for the correspondent and gives him instructions to rendezvous in her room. The movie actually doesn't seem too convoluted; it's just a little tricky to explain (for me, at least!). Many people have noted that Top Hat (1935) has a very similar plotline to Gay Divorcee. I, personally, don't have a problem with the similar plotlines. It's a formula but, like 1930s audiences, I'm one for escapism in movies and I kind of enjoy the wacky, similar, airy plots.

The film is a bit ridiculous and wacky but it's so funny! Several of the Fred and Ginger regulars are in it: Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore, Erik Rhodes. Also includes a delightful character actress, Alice Brady, who is equally ludicrous in My Man Godfrey (1936). As an interesting matter of trivia, Eric Blore was the most frequent repeat-offender in the Fred and Ginger series, showing up in 5 of their films. Can you name all five? I'll follow Gingerology's suit and include the answers in the comment section. I'll also use this topic for this week's poll. Which of the three regulars is your favorite? I'll include Helen Broderick in the running as well.

Another interesting detail pertaining to this film is that Betty Grable, in a bit performance (that I personally love. The song is quite silly but it's so catchy! I love it!) is wearing the same suit that Dolores del Rio wore in Flying Down to Rio (1933), another Fred and Ginger film.

After the surprising success of "The Carioca" in Flying Down to Rio, they hoped to cash in on another major dance sequence. The choice, "The Continental," won an Academy Award for Best Song. It's an incredibly long song (over 8 minutes!) but it's worth the watch. Fred and Ginger are fun to watch and Hermes Pan does a great job choreographing a big group of dancers. (I also rather like Ginger's dress here.)

The movie review chain still hasn't been picked up yet. Please don't leave it hanging! Just comment on my review post, saying you'd like to continue the chain - first come, first serve!


  1. Answers to the trivia question:
    Eric Blore was in 5 Fred and Ginger films. They are: Flying Down to Rio (1933), The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935), Swing Time (1936), and Shall We Dance (1937). How many did you get right?

  2. Ah, you didn't mention my favorite Fred and Ginger regular- Randolph Scott ("beeeg, handsome American"). I know he wasn't in all of them but he was in enough for me to notice. Yum!

    I have actually seen this particular Fred and Ginger film only once - the least of all theirs (except Irene and Vernon, of course!). I think I need to rewatch it.

  3. Emma - I sincerely apologize for forgetting your favorite! I went back to add him in but there have already been five votes! I will strive to do better next time!

  4. "Chance is the Fool's name for Fate..."

    Great review, Sally! Alice Brady is killer in this one...she plays a PERFECT 'ditz'! "OH EGGBERT!! I didn't know you liked DOLLS!!!" ...wish she would have been in a few more G-F movies...Helen B does pretty well, too, tho...she is great at the 'one-liners'!
    As for the trivia, I knew all of them, but then again, that hopefully shouldn't surprise you :-) thing about 'The Continental', it was the very FIRST 'Best Song' award ever... you know, since Ginger sang it, doesn't she 'technically' get some credit for the award? I guess in general, doesn't the singer get a statue, too? I feel pretty sure that Celine Dion has an Oscar for the 'Titantic' song... or am I being too 'pro-Ginger'? IS there such a thing? ???? :-]

    BTW - cool trivia about Betty G and Dolores with the same outfit...never really noticed that. There's always something new...ain't it cool?



  5. I love Alice Brady in this film! She had great nervous mannerisms and talked in giddily wonderful circles. Poor Eggbert didn't stand a chance.


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