Tuesday, February 23, 2010

review: Shall We Dance?

Just when you think it can't get any better, they throw in the Gershwins.
I can't pick a favorite of these movies to save my life, but I know this has some of my very favorite songs. Also some ingenius dances. Again, featuring a great supporting cast and reuniting them with Eric Blore and Edward Everett Horton.
This story is a little different. Astaire portrays Petrov, a famous ballet dancer - who really is an American called Peter A Peters. Rogers is Linda Keene (aka: Linda Thompson), a popular dancer. They meet in Paris, and, of couse, get started off on the wrong foot. But Petrov is determined to win Linda, and he books passage on the same boat as her, headed for America. While on the boat, they become friends and a wild rumor begins that they are married.
This movie is a delight for a couple reasons. It is not as funny as some of the previous movies, but the music more than makes up for it. Also, the design. An art deco engine room. Brilliant.
Music like "Slap That Bass" "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" and my personal favorite from this movie: "They Can't Take That Away From Me" - which won an Academy Award for Best Song in 1937.
This is the best moment without dancing that Fred Astaire has given us on film - well, this is my over-enthusiastic viewpoint as of now. Astaire is not a wonderful singer, but he was widely loved for his simple, meaningful expression of the songs he sang. "They Can't Take That Away from Me" is one of the most beautiful songs ever, with a hint of sadness. The characters are there, standing on a ferry together on a foggy night and Astaire sings. And of course, Rogers does what she does best: react. It's such a beautiful moment.
4 and 1/2 out of 5 stars

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