Top Hat (1935)

Top HatTop Hat Poster
Directed by Mark Sandrich
RKO Radio Pictures

Repeat viewing
#93 of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die



Dale Tremont: How could I have ever fallen in love with a man like you! [Dale slaps Jerry, then storms off]

Jerry Travers: She loves me.

Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) is a famous song and dance man who is scheduled to star in a show produced by Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton) in London.  Fashion designer Alberto Beddini (Erik Rhodes) has hired lovely Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers) as a sort of social mannequin to show off his gowns.  Jerry and Dale meet and Jerry is immediately smitten.  Horace’s wife Madge (Helen Broderick) is in Venice and wants to try her hand at a little matchmaking.  The sparks fly when Dale mistakes Jerry for Madge’s husband and the two arrive in Venice.

Top Hat 1

“Cheek to Cheek”

The silly comedy of errors is a structure on which to hang some glorious dancing, art deco sets, gorgeous gowns, and snappy dialogue.  Most of the cast of The Gay Divorcee comes back and is funnier than ever.  I particularly like Erik Rhodes’s conceited Beddini, who always refers to himself in the third person.

Top Hat 2

Fred Astaire was Irving Berlin’s favorite interpreter of his songs and he sings plenty of them here.  “Cheek to Cheek” is the standard coming from this film but I have a huge soft spot for “Isn’t This a Lovely Day”.  The dance to that one, in which Rogers starts out by mimicking Astaire’s movements, is the essence of joy.  In my view, a practically perfect picture.

“Isn’t This a Lovely Day”

10 thoughts on “Top Hat (1935)

  1. How wonderful is this film. My only quibble with it is that the first half is so dang strong, the ending kind of peters out by comparison. But really, it’s awesome. My favorite number is actually the first one – Fancy Free. I adore adore ADORE that number. The lyrics are smart, the song is fun and upbeat, the tap dancing is exquisite, and the sense of humor is off the charts. I love the pan down to Ginger Rogers’ room – with her in that ridiculous bed! – and then how Astaire walks Edward Everett Horton across the room to answer the knock on the door.

    • This film is pretty darn wonderful all right! The ending is a little weak, I will admit. The Piccolino is not a strong number and then that little reprise at the very end when Fred and Ginger are wearing overcoats over their evening clothes is odd. But I always watch to the very end. I wouldn’t want to miss a thing!

  2. Who could work more dancing magic on the screen that Fred and Ginger? I agree the The Piccolino was pretty weak but they were looking for another “Continental” and this wasn’t up to that standard. With that said, I love, love, love this film……Helen Broderick (Broderick Crawford’s mother) is a joy in this film, as is Eric Blore. Really,, the whole cast which was used in more than one of Fred and Ginger movies are right on target. This is the film where Ginger wore the feather dress for “Cheek to Cheek” and Astaire kept getting feathers in his mouth……he was not thrilled with the gown but I think it was perfect.

    • I didn’t know that Helen Broderick was Broderick Crawford’s mother! Another reason to love her … I read that Astaire’s nickname for Rogers was “Feathers”. I have no idea whether she smiled or winced when she heard that.

  3. Forget about the story. This is all about the music and dancing and that is glorious. Without hesitation I am willing to declare Cheek to Cheek the strongest musical tune to come out of the thirties. It was even included in one of the Hotel Costes compilations a few years a go and still sounds amazing in a modern context.
    The syncron dancing comes through very well too and I do not even like dancing scenes.

    • So glad to find another Fred and Ginger fan. And I have several more of their movies to see in my review of the 30’s. Roberta is coming up soon!

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