7.6/10
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53 user 38 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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(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:
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Lillian Miles ...
Singer - Continental Number
Charles Coleman ...
Guy's Valet
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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>

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Taglines:

Musical Triumph Of Two Continents See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

12 October 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Continental  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$520,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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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

The musical number "The Continental" lasts 17 1/2 minutes, the longest number ever in a musical until Gene Kelly's 18 1/2-minute ballet at the end of An American in Paris (1951) 17 years later. It is also the longest musical number in all of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' films together. See more »

Goofs

During Guy's conversation with Mimi's aunt, in a seaside hotel in England, a large plant from the cactus family is reflected in silhouette outside the window, making it apparent that the filming was not done on location. See more »

Quotes

Aunt Hortense: [to Mimi] I do adore Paris. It's so much like Chicago... It's such a relief when you travel to feel that you've never left home at all.
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Connections

Referenced in The Dick Cavett Show with Mel Brooks (2006) 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
See more »

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User Reviews

Sensational
29 January 2004 | by See all my reviews

Following an apparently accidental teaming in 1933's Flying Down to Rio (a fun Dolores Del Rio vehicle), Fred and Ginger got their first starring feature a year later. It was based on J. Hartley Manners' play 'The Gay Divorce'. The Hays Office insisted on shoving an 'e' on the end, for how could a divorce be so trifling as to be gay? Some UK prints still run with the original title. RKO assembled a sparkling ensemble cast of top-flight farceurs, bringing together (in ascending order of sublimity) Eric Blore, Edward Everett Horton and Erik Rhodes ("Are you a union man?"). Mark Sandrich directs the thing with a maximum of fuss and style. Hermes Pan helped Fred choreograph the numbers.

The plot is suitably - and delightfully - trivial. Musical star Guy Holden (Fred) happens upon a girl (Ginger), falls desperately in love with her, then spends the rest of the picture trying to free himself from marvellously silly plot threads and Everett Horton's exquisite quadruple-takes.

Keeping just one song from Cole Porter's original score, the timeless 'Night and Day', and adding only four others, The Gay Divorcée is more a comedy with songs than it is a musical comedy. But what comedy - and what songs! 'Looking For a Needle in a Haystack' is a masterpiece of economy: Fred a whirlwind of frustrated, lovestruck energy as he spins around his hotel room lamenting his missing love in peerless style. "Men don't pine," he memorably concludes, "Women pine. Men ... suffer." Everett Horton's rare excursion into song-and-dance territory is a breath of hysterical, liberating ludicrousness, as he knocks knees with a young Betty Grable. 'Don't Let It Bother You', performed by a chorus of dancing girls (and dolls), then spectacularly reprised by a tapping Astaire, is another treat. 'The Continental', the film's vast production number is peculiarly edited but sporadically fine and offers a fitting climax.

It's exceptional fluff, the sort of heady, heightened escapism that you don't come close to very often. An extravagantly mounted, joyous comedy played to perfection by two stars at their irresistible peak. Unmissable.


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