Classic Movie Review: Top Hat (1935)


Title: Top Hat
Release Date: August 29, 1935
Director: Mark Sandrich
Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures
Summary/Review:

In all my life, I’d never before watched a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie.  Much of the plot is a thin link between the wonderful dance sequences.  This movie is also the origination of “Cheek to Cheek,” which was the first dance at my wedding reception.  Nevertheless, much of this movie left me cold.

This movie is divided into two parts.  The first is in London where American dancer Jerry Travers (Astaire) has come to star in a show.  His love for dance leads him to tapdance around his hotel suite awaking the guest downstairs, Dale Tremont (Rogers).  When Dale complains, Jerry falls for her and begins following her around London. This is a romantic comedy trope that’s supposed to be romantic, but comes across as really creepy in this movie.  His dance performance also involves him miming shooting all his back up dancers with his cane.  Maybe its my modern sensibilities but I don’t find a massacre to be a fun thing to incorporate in dance.

The second part of the movie takes place in Venice where Dale travels for work and Jerry (creepily) follows her there.  The set design for Venice only superficially resembles the city, but it’s great in its own right, and provides lots of steps and bridges for the dance sequences.  I suppose if you ignore everything but the dance sequences, it’s really quite enjoyable, but I found much of the plot here, with Dale believing Jerry to be married, and then deciding to up and marry someone else, to just be obnoxious.

Rating: **

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