The least-seen and appreciated of the magical Astaire-Rogers series at RKO, this now seems, along with TOP HAT and SWING TIME, one of the three wonder films of the series. Astaire and Rogers persistently upstage the romantic leads, Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott, and they simply fly,
largely unburdened by the plot.
John Kent (Scott) is a former football star touring Europe with a swing band led by his pal Huck Haines (Astaire, in a role that combined those performed by Bob Hope and George Murphy in the Broadway original). In Paris they visit the salon of noted designer Mme. Roberta, actually John's Aunt
Minnie (a marvelous Westley), where they encounter Stephanie (Dunne), a Russian princess employed there since the Revolution. They also meet Countess Scharwenka (Rogers), who, as with the other women, is not what she seems--she's an old girlfriend of Huck's using an aristocratic Polish stage name.
John becomes involved with Stephanie, Huck and his old flame rekindle their passion, and together the four see to it that the fashion show goes on at the finale.
What's hung on this frivolous plot are some of Jerome Kern's most beautiful tunes and a set of dances that leave audiences waiting impatiently for the return of Astaire and Rogers. Thankfully they return frequently. "I'll Be Hard to Handle" remains one of their greatest ever, partly because it
firmly establishes the personas of "Fred and Ginger" in the popular imagination. Astaire, a great light comedian, makes the most of his many savage wisecracks, and a hilarious Rogers steals practically every scene in which she appears. Astaire does one of his all-time greatest solos to "I Won't
Dance," a brilliantly choreographed and performed routine. Two other brief duets, a touchingly simple yet dramatic romantic turn to "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", and a blistering final recap of "I Won't Dance" make this film dancer-happy to the max.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The least-seen and appreciated of the magical Astaire-Rogers series at RKO, this now seems, along with TOP HAT and SWING TIME, one of the three wonder films of the series. Astaire and Rogers persistently upstage the romantic leads, Irene Dunne and Randolph… (more)