Astaire and Rogers in "Top Hat"

   It is a truth universally acknowledged that an Astaire smile is the strongest antidote to all of life’s problems. Well, it is overwhelmingly true in Lady Disdain’s universe anyway. If we all had a Fred Astaire to greet us at the door with his carefree smile and tap-dancing feet, we would all collectively be a much happier species. 

   That is a fact.  
   And here is the proof: 

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   Besides the happy-go-lucky smile, of course, Astaire is also equipped with an abundance of talent for which he’s renowned. I recently stumbled across the Astaire & Rogers collection of films, and the first one I happened to watch was “Top Hat” – which according to IMDB is their most successful venture together. 

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   It tells the romance of Jerry Travers and Dale Tremont. One night Jerry happens to be showing some of his dance steps to his friend and employer, Horace Hardwick. Little do they realize that Jerry’s enthusiastic tap dancing has disturbed the resident below – the beautiful and highly annoyed Dale, who promptly storms upstairs to make a complaint. 

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Dale Tremont: I dropped up from the room below where I’ve been trying to get some sleep!
Jerry Travers:Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize I was disturbing you. You see, every once in a while I suddenly find myself… dancing.
 Dale Tremont: Oh, I suppose it’s some kind of an affliction. 

   The attraction between the two (Jerry & Dale) is pretty much instantaneous. However things become a little entangled when Dale makes the mistake of thinking that Jerry is in fact Horace – who also happens to be married to her friend Madge. Poor Dale is conflicted between her growing feelings for ‘Horace’/Jerry, loyalty to Madge and the anger which she directs at the clueless and unsuspecting Jerry. 

   What follows is pretty much a farcical comedy of mistaken identities. I absolutely adore mistaken identities. The mess they can create is equally calamitous and hilarious – probably one of the reason why I also love a lot of Shakespeare’s comedies. 

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   Musicals are obviously an extinct form  in the present day and I don’t know many people who can sit through a whole musical and enjoy it for its lightness and slapstick. People seem far too concerned with the fact that musicals are far too corny and not realistic enough. But sometimes fluff is the perfect medicine for reality. And that’s not taking into consideration the enormous amount of talent that clearly went into these films. Astaire’s tap-dancing alone usually leaves me having to pick my jaw up from the floor after each film. Then there’s the music, composed here by the great Irving Berlin. It’s full of songs that left me whistling the melodies for days afterwards. 


   I’ll leave you with my favorite song from the film. It’s called “Top Hat, White Tie & Tails”. The choreography’s both comical and elegant. And Astaire is. . . Astaire is alluring. I haven’t seen the word ‘alluring’ used in reference to a male before, but he is alluring. He will lure you with his singing, his dancing and his smile. Go ahead, be lured.You won’t regret it.



   

Sincerely,
   Lady Disdain

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4 thoughts on “Astaire and Rogers in "Top Hat"

  1. I knew Fred Astaire as a choreographer and stage artist and I haven't seen any of his movies. Top Hat looks like a good fun movie, thanks to your review.

    I quite fancy tap dancing, there are some stars even today who practice tap dance. Only yesterday I came across one, can't recall her name though.

    You're actually right, people don't like musicals anymore, the last one I saw was Mamma Mia (only because of Meryl Streep).

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  2. Astaire is quite well-known, and ooh you must watch an Astaire film! Top Hat is quite good as the plot (though a bit cliched) doesn't sag too much and there are some great musical and dance numbers.

    Yeah, musicals aren't as popular anymore, though, and I guess everything's got time and place, and maybe that's part of why Astaire was able to rise to such fame.

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  3. I love Top Hat. It is a feel good musical with great songs, dances and costumes. I also love, 'Cheek to Cheek' and 'Isn't It A Lovely Day To Be Caught In The Rain.' I also love the style of the costumes and sets and the era that the film is set in.

    The film has been adapted into a stage musical that began touring the UK during late 2011. The Show opened at Milton Keynes Theatre on 19 August 2011 before touring to other UK regional theatres including Leeds, Birmingham and Edinburgh. The production is also scheduled to transfer to the West End's Aldwych Theatre on April 19, 2012 with an opening on May 9, 2012 and bookings end on 28th September 2013.

    On Thursday 1st December 2011 I went to the Leeds Grand Theatre with my Mum to see Irving Berlin's Top Hat which is based on RKO's Motion Picture. It is Fred and Ginger's greatest Hollywood dance musical – live on stage for the very first time in 76 years!

    The costumes, sets and dance routines were all wonderful and I loved every minute of it! I want to see it all over again! I had a lovely time!

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  4. It is definitely feel good. I think I love pretty much all the songs in this film. They're instant classics. And yup, the costumes were divine. Astaire always looks so sleek and classy in his suits and hats. And Rogers is gorgeous, that goes without saying.

    Ooh, that sounds like such a great experience. I would love to see a musical live. I don't think I would be able to catch that show even in 2013 – I'm a bit too far away. But I'm glad you enjoyed it. There's definitely a special quality to live shows that film can't capture.

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