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William A. Seiter
Mimi Glossop wants a divorce so her Aunt Hortense hires a professional to play the correspondent in apparent infidelity. American dancer Guy Holden meets Mimi while visiting Brightbourne (Brighton) and she thinks he is the correspondent. The plot is really an excuse for song and dance. The movie won three Academy nominations and the first Oscar for Best Song: "The Continental", a twenty-two minute production number. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
During the "Continental" sequence Rodolfo Tonetti is shown playing a concertina and singing along. Though he moves the concertina in and out, and you can hear the music, his fingers never move on the keys. See more »
After their hit dancing of the "Carioca" in "Flying Down the Rio," RKO gave the teaming of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers a star role in "The Gay Divorcée" in 1934. With few exceptions, the plots of the Fred-Ginger films were excuses to get to the important part - the dancing - but the story lines were always pleasant and the casting good. "The Gay Divorcée" was based on a Broadway musical (of which the only number retained is "Night and Day") and it appears that a few of its plot devices were adopted in later Astaire-Rogers films as well. One such plot device is that of mistaken identity. In this movie, Astaire (reprising his Broadway role) is mistaken for a professional correspondent hired to help Rogers get her divorce. Another device is that at first, Ginger is never interested in Fred - that goes here, too. And there's a stock cast in these films, namely, Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore (and of course, he's always the butler and always very funny). Horton plays Rogers' attorney whose major problem is Rogers' aunt (Alice Brady).
What can be said about the dancing except that it's glorious? Fred and Ginger dance to "Night and Day" after Astaire sings it to her. For a supposed non-singer, Astaire could really put over a song - his voice is pleasant and he's so musical - no wonder composers wrote songs for him. Ginger is beautiful and spunky as Mimi, a young woman ducking Fred while she's trying to get a divorce. Betty Grable has a bit that showcases her in the number "Let's K-knock Kneez." There's also "I'm Looking for a Needle in a Haystack" delightfully sung and danced by Fred. Astaire's dancing is fantastic throughout.
It feels as if about half the picture is taken up with the elaborately staged production number, "The Continental." In later films, of course, the dancing would center more around Fred and Ginger, but it's a great part of the movie and certainly solidified these two as a top box office pairing.
For pure enjoyment, there's nothing like watching Astaire & Rogers in these movies.
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