Why am I in heaven? Because I have just returned from seeing this
wonderful, wonderful film on the big screen (for maybe the tenth time).
But it was over a decade since I had that pleasure and I had forgotten
the wonder, the thrill, the ecstasy of it. Am I a musicals nut? No. Am
I an Astaire-Rogers super-fan? No. But this delirious romantic musical
farce is one of the most precious jewels in the crown of the cinema.
Whence cometh this wonder, I ask myself? Yes, many other of the Astaire Rogers films are enjoyable, and the dancing and even, perhaps, the songs in Swingtime or Carefree can match most of the numbers in Top Hat. But Top Hat stands like a beacon above and beyond anything that the duo, or RKO's musical division ever did before or after. I am coming to the conclusion that a lot of the credit belongs to Aladar Laszlo who was co-author of the play, but, more importantly had the same function on Lubitsch's masterpiece, Trouble in Paradise...
So what if Aladar did light the spark in the film? Nearly everyone concerned is perfect. There is barely a line of dialogue that is not funny or barbed, and even the corny jokes: Ginger:'What is this strange power you have over horses?'. Fred: 'Horse power.' add to the blinding sense of INNOCENCE that gives the film its power.
And then there are the supporting roles. Edward Everett Horton makes a magnificent Horace, but is upstaged in every scene by Eric Blore as the incomparable Bates. Erik Rhodes is sensational as Beddini, uttering mangled English as though he imagined he was Shakespeare. And what of director Mark Sandrich? If Howard Hawks' definition of a good director ('Someone who doesn't annoy you.') is right, then Mark Sandrich is a good director! But this is not a film d'auteur but a magnificent product of the Hollywood studio system - one of the best.
But I digress. I like thousands of films, and love hundreds of them, but this wondrous emotional masterpiece can take its place along with perhaps twenty or thirty films that I love to exasperation. That is alongside The Adventurer, 42nd Street, The General, Earth, Citizen Kane, El Dorado... OK, I won't bore you with the rest. And so that is why I'm in heaven. And if there is a heaven, then after I die, I will enter the world of Top Hat.
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|Awards||Newsgroup reviews||External reviews|
|Parents Guide||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|