Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I know about everything every way

Continuing in the list of 100 movies, I'm going to list one of my favorite movies featuring TCM's star of the month:

#21 Roberta (1935)

This is one of the first Fred and Ginger movies I remember watching. Now, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, and Swing Time are kind of lumped into my memory of first Fred and Ginger movies. We used to check Top Hat out of the library and we had taped the other two onto VHS from the tv. But Roberta was the first Fred and Ginger movie we owned in its actual little video casette box. Even though Fred and Ginger are minor roles in it, it's one of my favorites. They're so incredibly funny and I kind of enjoy it when they're not fighting all the time. It's cute to see them together and having fun.

Anyway, basic plot: When football coach, John Kent (Randolph Scott) accompanies his friend Huck Hanes (Fred Astaire) and Hanes's band, the Wabash Indianians, to Paris, he doesn't expect to inherit his Aunt Mimi's popular dress shop, Roberta's. And he definitely doesn't expect to fall in love with his Aunt Mimi's asssistant, Stephanie (Irene Dunne) who agrees to run the shop as his partner. But when John's exgirlfriend, Sophie Teale (Claire Dodd) suddenly shows up, things get a little tricky. And when John and Stephanie fight over a revealing evening gown, Roberta's is left in the unable hands of Huck. Laughter, singing, and dancing ensue.

Okay, we've already established how terrible I am at nutshelling. I was going to stop after the first sentence, but that didn't seem like enough information! I should never get a job writing taglines.

I tried to look up some nifty trivia on this film but found surprisingly little. I did find out why Ginger Rogers has that wacky accent the whole time (I've often wondered why she had to be Polish). She put it on in honor of Lyda Roberti, who originated the Scharwenka role on Broadway and who was Polish. This next one, I can't paraphrase so I'll just quote directly from IMDb: "The original lyrics to 'Let's Begin' include the lines 'We have necked / Till we're wrecked', but the censors demanded that this be changed." Isn't that great? Oh, censorship. Also, Lucille Ball, who is one of the models (she's super cute as an uncredited model), bought RKO years later and renamed it Desilu Studios. Interesting, huh?

Like I said, I love Fred and Ginger when they're not fighting. There's so much fun banter at work. Here's an example:

Huck: Bonjour, Monsieur Fullback. I wish to place an order. Would you mind handstitching two dozen touch-downs for me?
Tanka: Could you run up two field goals with the score tied in the back?
Huck: A sort of a half back.

That's one of my favorite scenes. So funny!

Question for those who have seen the movie: why on earth do the Wabash Indianians decide to play the Organ Number for what is basically an audition? Do they really think that will get them the job? Is it because all of their instruments are packed up and it would be too much trouble to unpack them in the middle of a station? Or is it just so that the audience can watch a totally wacky musical number? Just curious.


  1. ...great review, Sally! Hey, it is more concise than any of mine are! :-) I am the 'king of the run-on sentence'...

    This one is a pretty cool movie...the fact that GandF is in it in any capacity makes it an 'essential', but I also like Irene Dunne, and a nice all-around cast. Always thought it was kinda weird this one came after 'The Gay Divorcee', since it basically 'relegates GandF back to the 'second leads' or whatever, as in their 'debut', 'Rio'... but the GandF scenes thruout are classic! The 'organ' routine was probably just not a good fit anywhere else, so just made it a 'spontaneous' deal, although it seemed to be pretty well 'coordinated'... of course, GandF movies have to be viewed with some leniency in regards to 'feasibility' - most obviously the dance routines where GandF first meet, and rip off an epic routine that only...well, GandF could do, but not w/o gobs of rehearsal... or am I analyzing this a bit much? methinks so...

  2. I've never seen a Fred and Ginger movie before; but now that I've read your review I'm convinced that I absolutely MUST! :)


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