Shall we dance some more, please? For the seventh time in four years, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers team up for another frolicsome romp, though this effort doesn't amount to much more than a rehash of their previous films, replete with the usual romantic screw-ups, people pretending to be what they aren't, and too few stylized dances. Thank goodness for Astaire and Rogers and especially for a sensational Gershwin brothers score. Astaire is Petrov, a Russian ballet dancer; Rogers is Linda Keene, a high-powered musical-comedy star. To keep Linda from retiring to marry, Linda's agent (Cowan) suggests that she's already married to Petrov, to the surprise of the breathless press. Petrov and Linda ultimately decide to get married so they can get a very public divorce and clear the air, but true love does blossom amid the many plot complications.
SHALL WE DANCE might have made more of an impact on moviegoers, who, judging from the still huge but slowly declining boxoffice appeal of the Astaire-Rogers efforts, were growing tired of the formula. The film itself still has plenty of shine, but deficiencies exist. The peerless pair enjoy one of their best-ever tap duets with "They All Laughed", one which includes jokes, challenges, hard and soft tap, changes in tempo, a lovely merging of his ballet and her tap and a snappy close. But it's the only duet that measures up. Astaire and Rogers croon "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" ("you say ee-ther, and I say eye-ther") quite agreeably, but neither quite pulls off the roller-skating routine which follows. Astaire's solo to "Slap That Bass" has some great moments and a blistering finale, but the fuel it provides really doesn't last. The finale, meanwhile, although it offers a clever resolution to the plot, seems more than a bit forced, with Rogers falling back in love with Astaire at the sight of duplicates of herself dancing onstage. The ballet surrounding this climax is a mess, with chorines and ballerinas ambling about in clumps, Astaire looking uncomfortable, and sideshow
freak Harriet Hoctor bollixing any impact the number may have. A ballerina-cum-contortionist, Hoctor stops the show dead (and we mean dead) when she performs her signature move: kicking herself in the head while bent backwards like a human croquet wicket. Please be sure to share this moment with someone you love, for things like this don't appear in films everyday. The supporting cast (except for the awkward Ketti Gallian) is as expert as it was in earlier RKO musicals, even if the hilarious and gifted duo of Horton and Blore really have to work overtime to put over some of the thin material. Although it didn't initially appear to be hit-laden, George and Ira Gershwin's unfailingly marvelous score ultimately produced a number of standards, including the haunting, Oscar-nominated "They Can't Take That Away From Me." (What a glorious romantic duet that song would have made for Fred and Ginger!) There's still plenty to enjoy in this typically exhilarating Astaire-Rogers effort, despite a certain lack of originality.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Shall we dance some more, please? For the seventh time in four years, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers team up for another frolicsome romp, though this effort doesn't amount to much more than a rehash of their previous films, replete with the usual romantic… (more)