Tag: ginger rogers

***AFI WEEKEND*** #90. Swing Time (1936)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

 Swing_Time_lobby_card_1936

“Listen. No one could teach you to dance in a million years. Take my advice and save your money!”

Screen couples don’t come much more iconic than Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. So iconic in fact, that I know they are one of the most successful and enduring screen couples in cinema history, and it’s possible I’ve never seen a single one of their soft shoe team ups. Which is kind of sad, because at this stage, I have seen every Burt Reynolds / Dom DeLuise team up, several times. So I guess it’s time to get stuck right into some 30s song and dance, with Swing Time.


Lucky (Fred Astaire) is a hoofer, dancing on stage as part of Pop Cardetti’s (Victor Moore) magic act. It’s his wedding day and he hopes to leave the theatre behind, marry his sweetheart Margaret (Betty Furness) and become a professional gambler. His fellow dancers run a scam that sees Lucky missing his wedding and hopping a train to New York City, penniless except for his lucky quarter, with the aim to win $25,000 and return to take Margaret’s hand in marriage. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Top Hat (1935)

TopHat012013TLC

“In dealing with a girl or horse, one just let’s nature take its course.”

I love discovering old movies that I didn’t even realise were classics until I watched them. No one stumbles across Citizen Cane, or Vertigo, or The Wizard of Oz. Those movies are too famously classic to be seen by mistake or luck. I also love discovering why a certain director, actor, or combination of actors are considered Hollywood legends. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were such an iconic screen duo, I knew who they were before I knew who they were. By that, I mean Looney Tunes cartoons meant I recognised them even though I had no idea what those cartoons were spoofing. With Top Hat, I get the lot. A classic I’d never heard of, full of shots and dance numbers I know I recognise. And immediate proof of why I knew “Fred and Ginger” long before I actually knew who they were.


Flying to London to star in a West End musical, Jerry (Fred Astaire) stays with the producer of the musical, Edward Everett Horton as Horace. On his first night, Jerry is tap dancing around Horace’s apartment which leads to a complaint from the woman in the apartment below. That woman just so happens to be the gorgeous and charming Dale (Ginger Rogers). Jerry is infatuated and although initially annoyed by him, it doesn’t take too long for Dale to start to feel the same way. The only problem is, this is a screwball comedy, so we’re gonna need some mistaken identity to get in the way. Which arises early on as Dale thinks Jerry is in fact Horace. And since Dale is friends with Horace’s wife, she’s more than just a little conflicted about her undeniable attraction. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Monkey Business (1952)

monkey business poster
When I wrote about Arsenic and Old Lace, I was really surprised by Cary Grant’s commitment to silly, and said “he’s a mugging, broad, slap sticky goofball, and I loved every second of it”.  Well, it turns out that his Arsenic performance is late-career-Bill-Murray-dead-pan, compared to the goofy mad cappery that is Monkey Business.


Not to be confused with the 1931 Marx Brothers movie of the same name, mainly because it’s nowhere near as funny as the brothers Marx, this version of Monkey Business centres around Grant as Barnaby Fulton, an absent minded professor in search of a youth serum.  His concoction doesn’t work, but in a piece of movie convenience, one of his test monkeys does manage to make a working serum that Grant inadvertently drinks.

Feeling ten years younger, he embarks on a day of cheap thrills and chasing tail.  Not just any tail, Marilyn Monroe tail.  The next day, recovered and back to his older self, he’s determined to give the serum another go for further study.  This time, his wife, Ginger Rogers’ Edwina, takes the serum so Grant can stay sober and study the effects.  It turns out, the more people drink, the younger they feel and much hilarity ensues.

Watching Grant and Rogers fully commit to playing bratty versions of themselves from little kids to young adults is pretty fun.  The huge extremes might not be the most subtle, but this is a movie in which a monkey invents a youth serum, so subtly isn’t really called for.

The biggest and best surprise in Monkey Business is Marilyn Monroe.  While only five years into her filmography, it seems that this is one of her first substantial roles.  Watching the movie, it also seems like Monkey Business happened before she discovered the soft spoken, pouty lipped, bimbo schtick that ended up being her stock in trade.  Here, she sells the sexiness without resorting to that annoying, hacky stuff that I’ve never seen the appeal in.

Watching Monkey Business also made me ask the question, why are there ever unfunny comedies?  Because you know what, there’s no scene so unfunny that it can’t be fixed by getting a monkey in there.  Especially a monkey dressed in people clothes.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and say even something as horribly boring and unfunny as Weekend at Bernie’s II, Airplane II, or even Blues Brothers 2000, would have been hysterical if their monkey quotient was increased by just one.

After always associating Grant with movies like His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby where he plays the sane one in the midst of all the craziness, I’m really enjoying this recent, and inadvertent, festival of Cary Grant the clown.  His proper diction, handsome looks and imposing build just make the bumbling that much funnier.

Monkey Business
Directed By – Howard Hawks
Written By – Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer, I.A.L. Diamond