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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
The superb Fred and Ginger series always ended with a big, big set piece where the two of them could dance, and 'The Gay Divorce(e)' is no exception. This time it is 'The Continental', which allows half of what passes for Brighton to join in the dance.
Not the most original of plots, this movie teamed the leads together for the second time (the first time they led the cast though). Both are terrific, and Fred's dancing throughout is a treat. Ginger is her usual bouncy self, all wisecracks and big eyes, and good on her feet. They're ably supported by Edward Everett Horton (as 'Aunt' Egbert), Alice Brady (the towering matriach, Rogers' aunt), Eric Blore (as an irritating waiter who likes talking about rocks and playing with words), Erik Rhodes (as a daft Italian), and Betty Grable (as a hotel guest who has a terrific number with Horton, 'Let's K-knock K-knees').
As you might guess, the story revolves around a divorce, which might be a gay one (in the 1930s definition of the word, of course), and, as so often in this series, mistaken identities. Tiny roles go to William Austin (as Rogers' blustering geologist hubby), and Lilian Miles (an Alice Faye lookalike who gets to reprise 'The Continental' all to herself).
This is one of the better entries in the series, ably directed by Mark Sandrich, and featuring a mix of songs including Cole Porter's 'Night and Day', and the jaunty 'Looking for a Needle in a Haystack'.
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