7.6/10
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51 user 37 critic

The Gay Divorcee (1934)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 12 October 1934 (USA)
An American woman travels to England to seek a divorce from her absentee husband, where she meets - and falls for - a dashing performer.

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Writers:

(from the book by), (musical adaptation) (as Kenneth Webb) | 4 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Egbert 'Pinky' Fitzgerald
Erik Rhodes ...
Rodolfo Tonetti
...
The Waiter
Lillian Miles ...
Singer - Continental Number
Charles Coleman ...
Guy's Valet
William Austin ...
Cyril Glossop
...
Dance Specialty - Knock Knees
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Storyline

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The King and Queen of 'Carioca' See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

12 October 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Continental  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$520,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System) (as R C A Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the Internet Movie Car Database, some cars are identified as follows: The car that Tonetti drives up to the resort in is a 1927 Austin Seven Swallow. The car that asks to get by in the fake roadblock is a 1927 Bugatti Type 40. The car Ginger Rogers is driving is a 1929 Dusenberg J. Fred Astaire is driving a 1931 MG J2 Midget. See more »

Goofs

When Hortense and Mimi consult with Egbert in his law office, Hortense says Mimi has been married two years. The waiter (Eric Blore) says he met "Professor Brown" (Mimi's husband incognito) and his "wife" 3 1/2 years ago. See more »

Quotes

Guy Holden: Can I offer you anything? Frosted chocolate? Cointreau? Benedictine? Marriage?
Mimi Glossop: What was that last one?
Guy Holden: Benedictine?
Mimi Glossop: No, the one after that.
Guy Holden: Oh, marriage?
Mimi Glossop: Do you always propose marriage as casually as that?
Guy Holden: There is nothing casual about it. In fact, I've given it long and sincere thought.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Fred Astaire: Puttin' on His Top Hat (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

A Needle In a Haystack
(1934)
Music and Lyrics by Con Conrad and Herb Magidson
Song and dance performed by Fred Astaire (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

High point of Astaire and Rogers
22 January 2000 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

Fred and Ginger, two perfect partners, two of the best dancers in history. In 1934, the toast of RKO. What a great pair the studio that would become defunct in a matter of years had on their hands!

In 1933, the pair had proven themselves as second leads in "Flying Down to Rio", a musical heavily relying on special effects and little else. They stole the show, proven with "The Carioca", the erotically charged dance number which started an American craze of pressing foreheads and even got the Best Song Oscar nod over the supposed show stopping title song. Before, Ginger had "42nd Street" to her name, while Fred had the famous screen test analysis of "Can't sing. Can't act. Can dance a little."

"The Gay Divorcee" is the establishing musical of Astaire and Rogers. Silly, dated, slight, even stupid to a certain degree is the entire story. Without a doubt, high comedy and immense creativity make up for it. The mistaken identity plot was recycled for "Top Hat" the following year, but it hardly matters. It is littered entirely with hilarity! Writing was never the strongest point of these musicals anyway. The performances were not Oscar calibre but they were publicly loved, and it's obviously Astaire and Roger's singing, acting and most of all, dancing, that makes the movie what it is.

A top wealth of talent was assembled for the movie. Erik Rhodes is absolutely side splitting as the Italian guy Tonetti, wielding the fabulous line, "Your wife is safe with Tonetti, he prefers spaghetti!". Alice Brady is there as Aunt Hortense, but Edward Everett Horton is another stand out performer as the lawyer. His fumbling voice provides a character of clumsiness and two seem to go hand in hand. He was definitely one of the best supporting comedians of the 1930s and 1940s, in other Astaire and Rogers musicals, and movies like "Lost Horizon", "Holiday", "Here Comes Mr Jordan" and "Arsenic and Old Lace".

Only one song was retained for the filmic version of "The Gay Divorcee". The censors even crashed down on the stage's original title "The Gay Divorce". Fred performs a great rendition of the immortal Cole Porter song "Night and Day". "The Continental", the Best Song of 1934 is thrown there in the mix too. Other great numbers in there include "Looking for a needle in a haystack", "Don't Let it Bother You" and "Let's K-nock- K-nees". The latter is performed by a young Betty Grable. This is notable for the only time Edward Everett Horton sings and dances on screen. We can see from the results there's an obvious reason.

The stylish period of courtship and even set decoration and costumes evoke great memories of eras gone by. RKO hasn't helped preservation of these technical elements by throwing what always appears to be mediocre sets, but it doesn't matter anyway. The whole thing is irresistible, spectacular and unforgettable. This is one of the forgotten musicals of the time which has it all.

Rating: 8/10


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