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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Top Hat

Author: Jackson Booth-Millard from United Kingdom
8 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I knew of all the films starring the great dancing actor, this was the most critically acclaimed of all of them, so obviously I wasn't going to miss the opportunity, and it paid off brilliantly. Basically showman Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) is working for producer Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton) in London, and shows off some of his new skilled tap dancing steps to him in his hotel room. This however annoys Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers) who in the room below is trying to get some sleep, and when she goes up to complain he sees her and is immediately attracted. As Jerry continues to pursue Dale all over London, and she does give into him with a roller skate dancer, but he doesn't realise that she thinks he is Horace, married to Marge (Helen Broderick). After a successful opening night in the London theatre, Dale travels to Venice with Jerry right behind her, and while modelling dresses for Italian fashion designer Alberto Beddini (Erik Rhodes) she visits Marge. The mistaken identity grows and grows and now Marge is convinced innocent husband Horace has been the one ca-noodling with Dale, and Jerry still isn't aware of the situation. It is when Jerry proposes to Dale that the big trouble sets in for him and Horace, Dale instead decides to marry Alberto in a quick ceremony, but Jerry may win her back as we see in a memorable dance together. When Alberto goes to deal with Jerry, he has already explained everything to Dale as they are on gondola, Horace is the one with the sword pointed at him. In the end it is revealed that Bates (Eric Blore) was the one who pretended to be a clergyman and married to Dale and Alberto, so it is unofficial, so Jerry and she get married for real to live happily. Astaire and Rogers together are a great presence, the dances are fantastic with impeccable choreography, the most memorable dance being to the infectious song "Cheek to Cheek" with inspired lyrics, "Heaven, I'm in Heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak". Astaire and Rogers were in ten films together, and this is easily the greatest of their collaborations, maybe even the best old-fashioned dance movie, a wonderful classic musical comedy. It was nominated the Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Dance Direction and Best Picture. Fred Astaire was number 81 on The 100 Greatest Movie Stars, and he was number 5 on 100 Years, 100 Stars - Men, Ginger Rogers was number 14 on 100 Years, 100 Stars - Women, the Oscar nominated "Cheek to Cheek" was number 15 on 100 Years, 100 Songs, the film was number 15 on 100 Years of Musicals, it was number 60 on The 100 Greatest Musicals, and it was number 75 on The 100 Greatest Films. Outstanding!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Quite possibly the best mistaken identity flick ever

Author: Garrettk41 from South Portland, Maine
27 August 2005

I just love this movie. It's Fred and Ginger at their peek. Even if they had stopped working together after this, they probably would have still been considered the greatest song-and-dance team of all time. That's how wonderful they are.

The plot is not complicated. Jerry Travers (Astaire) and Dale Tremont (Rogers) meet in a hotel and become wildly attractive to each other (though Dale tries to deny it). Soon, however, Dale, who has not yet learned his name, gains the impression that he is Horace Hardwick (who is actually Edward Everett Horton), a man she hadn't previously known from Adam, but knows he is married because she's good friends with his wife, Madge (Helen Broderick, mother of Broderick Crawford). Meanwhile a dashing suitor for Dale's hand, the flamboyant Alberto Beddini (played to perfection by Erik Rhoades) is enraged at the real Hardwick for trying to take his girl away from him. And Madge is even angrier at him for "cheating on her" and even gives him a black eye at one point. Eventually, the truth is discovered, and Hardwick's butler, Bates (Eric Blore) saves Dale from having to wed Alberto.

This movie is funny and entertaining. Even my sister, who doesn't generally take to movies released as early 1935, didn't think it was bad at all. Directed by Mark Sandrich, it contains a most memorable score by the great Irving Berlin. Thew title song, "Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails" and "Cheek to Cheek" are among Fred's best known performances. He gives off a wonderful first impression with "No Strings", he and Ginger dance under a bandstand away from the wretched weather in "Isn't This a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain", and Ginger gets a moment of spotlight with "The Piccolino". Nobody should go a lifetime without seeing this fantastic movie. So go out and rent it. And keep a sharp lookout for a young Lucille Ball in the flower shop.

Famous Line: "We are Bates, sir." (Bates-who else?)

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Nobody does them anymore

Author: valadas from Portugal
3 June 2005

Yes nobody does musicals like these anymore and if someone did who'd care to see them? Seeing Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers again dancing like only they could do, looking like if they had been born to each other, talking with their feet and their whole bodies almost makes you cry with nostalgia. These were human beings expressing their feelings not machines or robots like those we see in most nowadays movies. When this fabulous pair of tap-dancers begin to move before our eyes we forget everything else and become enraptured. That's what this movie is about and nothing else. The story? Oh yes the story is weak but who cares? In these musicals the story is only the cement which brings music and dance numbers together. However a special mention of two secondary players who go very well: Helen Broderick making the open minded wife of the theatrical manager and Eric Blore in the role of Bates the butler who presents us with a few hilarious gags. It's an old movie indeed but it still resists wear and tear of time.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A tonic for Depression-era audiences...but today it seems an exceedingly thin star showcase

Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
28 December 2009

The wife of a stage producer in London hopes to fix up the American song-and-dance man starring in her husband's latest show with an acquaintance, an American girl who makes her living modeling fashions in society circles. Unfortunately, the couple has already met on their own, with the girl thinking the guy is actually the show producer married to her friend (the fact he's not wearing a wedding ring should have discouraged any misunderstandings!). Wafty Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musical is eventually dragged back down to the earth by Dwight Taylor and Allan Scott's idiotic script, which is full of juvenile behavior. Astaire and Rogers don't just 'meet cute'--they meet ridiculously (he's tap-dancing like a madman in the hotel suite above hers and she complains). Audiences of 1935 probably didn't care how these two were going to get together--as long as they did so, and happily. Seen today, the central characters appear to have no motivation to end up in each other's arms: he plies her with flowers (after telling his friend he wants to remain "fancy free" in the love department) and she gives him the brush-off. Nothing that a little dancing couldn't cure! This glamorous twosome are as deliberately unreal as are the London and Venice settings, but we watch simply because the leads are Fred and Ginger. It's a fantasy for have-nots...ones who don't mind the dumbed-down plot. The musical moments do break up the monotony of the contrived scenario, yet fail to transcend the surrounding silliness. ** from ****

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"In dealing with a girl or horse, one just lets nature take its course."

Author: utgard14 from USA
18 January 2015

Dancer Fred Astaire and model Ginger Rogers meet and immediately fall in love. But when Ginger mistakenly believes Fred is married to her friend, she wants nothing more to do with him. Okay, not the most original plot you'll ever see. Mistaken identity plots were pretty common then (and still show up today). But it's handled well and never feels contrived. This is my favorite Fred & Ginger movie. Both are in top form with wonderful timing and chemistry. Great comedic support from Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore, Helen Broderick, and a scene-stealing Erik Rhodes ("Never again will I allow women to wear my dresses!"). Songs include the classic "Cheek to Cheek" and the underrated "The Piccolino." The dance numbers are exceptional. Ginger's beautiful, even in that feather dress that Fred Astaire hated so much. Everything works in this one. The comedy, the romance, the songs, the dancing -- it's all perfect.

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A pure tonic courtesy of the Great Depression era of filmmaking

Author: Chris Mizerak
16 July 2014

Once upon a time in the 1930's, a legendary pairing of two stars took place in the midst of the Great Depression. Keep in mind that this era was a trying time for America due to the fact that many people were either broke or starving to death. What made this pairing so special is that they helped many people forget for a brief period of time that they were living in such an era. That pairing is none other than that of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Though Astaire would later star in other memorable musicals such as "The Band Wagon" (1953) and narrate the Christmas special "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" (1970), this team was probably best known by many for their collaboration on musical-comedies such as "Swing Time" (1936) and "Top Hat" (1935), the latter being the subject of this very review.

"Top Hat" follows American dancer Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) who travels to London to do a show for producer Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton). One night when practicing his dance routine in Hardwick's hotel room, a lady named Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers) from the room below comes up to complain about the noise he's making. Immediately falling in love with Dale on their first meeting, Jerry is determined to pursue her all over town to win her affections. But things get complicated when Dale mistakes Jerry for Hardwick, who is married to Dale's friend Madge (Helen Broderick), and Dale gets engaged to Italian fashion designer Alberto Beddini (Erik Rhodes). So Jerry gets Hardwick and his butler Bates (Eric Blore) to help him with winning back Dale. Basically, the plot centers on a new couple that must try to clear up a big misunderstanding that has come between them.

To be brutally honest, the plots have never been the primary strength of the musicals Astaire and Rogers made during that time. In fact, I can see why this story in particular might annoy moviegoers today as it's the type of plot found in rom-coms that most people hate. Because of the fact that the story centers on a misunderstanding, the couple apparently have to be convinced that they hate each other throughout most of the film (Though to be fair, I don't think Astaire hated Rogers at all). And as a result, we have trouble being convinced that they'd be a happy couple. Given that the ability to be convinced that a couple is in love is a crucial ingredient to make a romantic story work, the negative comments regarding the plot to "Top Hat" are justified in that sense. The story is awkward to say the least. But in terms of its execution, it could have been a lot worse.

The aspects that truly sell the musicals starring Astaire and Rogers, especially this one, are the musical numbers and the dancing. Film critic Roger Ebert really opened my eyes in his Great Movies review of "Swing Time" regarding what made Astaire and Rogers stand out. Ebert stated that "Astaire believed every dance number should be filmed, as nearly as possible, in one unbroken take, always showing the full figures of the dancers from head to toes. There are no cutaways to an admiring audience--Astaire thought that was a distraction. No cuts, or very few, to different points of view. And no closeups of the dancer's faces, for that would deny us the movement of their bodies. When you see anyone--an athlete, a musician, a dancer, a craftsman--doing something difficult and making it look easy and a joy, you feel enhanced. It is a victory for the human side, over the enemies of clumsiness, timidity and exhaustion."

To briefly summarize Ebert's brilliantly chosen words, Astaire and Rogers stood out from other talented dancers in Hollywood because they realized that little to no editing resulted in more convincing dancing. By using this minimal editing approach, we can truly appreciate the stamina and talent that Astaire and Rogers had as dancers and thus make the illusion seem more real to us. Remember the "Isn't It A Lovely Day" number early on in the film? The minimal editing used in that number captures the illusion that Rogers truly is progressing from a slow to fast dance alongside Astaire. As a result, the transformation of Rogers' character's opinion of Astaire's character during that song feels more complete. The dance sequences in the "Cheek to Cheek" and "Piccolino" musical numbers also obtain the illusion that they've been dancing for a certain period of time without interruptions. It's a smart strategy that Astaire and Rogers use for their dance sequences, so I give them full credit for that.

Pet peeves with the narrative aside, Astaire and Rogers still have some likability to them. The exchange between them at the start of the picture (when Rogers complains about Astaire's noisy dancing) shows this teaming at their best and summarizes the chemistry between them in a nutshell. Rogers has some smart yet playful verbal jabs and Astaire always seems to maintain positivity even when the going gets tough (usually when certain people want him to go away). The songs by Irving Berlin stand the test of time, namely "Isn't It A Lovely Day", "Top Hat", "Cheek to Cheek" and "Piccolino". The dancing between our two leads is amazing because of how they maintain pleasure even under pressing circumstances (wardrobe troubles, hours and hours of rehearsal, etc.). "Top Hat" is the type of picture you don't see being made today. I wouldn't say that it's going to be for everybody in today's world. But considering the time it was made, it's nothing short of a miracle.

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Great Mix of Romance, Dance and Comedy

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
28 December 2013

Top Hat (1935)

**** (out of 4)

Dancer Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) arrives in the UK for a show and soon meets the beautiful Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers). The two quickly fall in love but then Dale thinks that he's actually the husband of her best friend. Not realizing that she's making a mistake, Dale does everything she can to destroy the relationship. TOP HAT is perhaps one of the best known of the ten teamings between Astaire and Rogers and it's easy to see why so many people love it. The two stars are in great form, there are many great songs and dance sequences and we've also got a pretty simple but very funny story that actually works. The screenplay is quite good even though there's really not too much that happens when you think about it. The first thirty-minutes has Astaire and Rogers meeting, flirting, dancing and falling in love. Then we get the mix-up to where Rogers thinks Astaire is married and for the next hour plus we get them fighting and dragging other people into the mess. I thought the stuff dealing with Rogers making the mistake was handled quite well and it led to many laughs and especially when the real husband gets involved with another man who has a thing for Rogers. The performances by the two leads are certainly everything you'd expect them to be. The chemistry between the stars is what made these teamings legendary and every bit of praise that has been said about them is rightly deserved. The supporting players offer up nice performances from Edward Everett Horton, Helen Broderick and Erik Rhodes. The song "Check to Check" is perhaps the most memorable from any of the Astaire-Rogers musicals but we also get an excellent "Isn't This a Lovely Day (to Be Caught in the Rain?" and "The Piccolino" at the finale is just divine. TOP HAT certainly deserves its reputation as one of the best musicals out there but I think it's the comedy that really makes it stand out.

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Pure nostalgia

Author: spitfire2356 from Malta
1 October 2013

Still very watchable. Fred Astaire is Fred Astaire even if he comes as too aware of his star status throughout the film. Ginger is an excellent actress but unfortunately her dancing steps are mostly criminally hidden by too long dresses. The dancing does not take over the whole film and has a measure of spontaneity in it, making it more natural. The sets are laughably prewar, rooms without ceilings - the bridal suite for example - but taken in stride. The characters are likable and the script is witty. Unfortunately the soundtrack quality is terrible by today's standards and while good enough to understand the dialog, renders the music to scratchy gramophone days. Nostalgic yes but cramps the style somewhat.

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one of the better Astaire Rogers movies

Author: Charles Herold (cherold) from United States
7 September 2013

Frankly, while Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers had wonderfully chemistry, I don't feel the Astaire/Rogers films were his best movies. Band Wagon, for one, was much better, and in terms of dance partners, Eleanor Powell was much more impressive than Rogers.

Still, I watched all the Astaire/Rogers films when I was in college, and I enjoyed them, less for the dancing (I really like Astaire best in his novelty numbers, like dancing with a coat rack or firecrackers) than with the goofy comedy of supporting players like Edward Everett Horton.

Top Hat is a very good example of the Astaire Rogers formula. Astaire and Rogers coo and snipe, supporting players are amusingly befuddled, the story is an amusing though remarkably dopey comedy of errors, and there is quite a lot of dancing. The songs by Irving Berlin are some of his best, and the dancing is, of course, excellent, even though I'm really more a fan of Gene Kelly's earthier approach.

If you like Astaire/Rogers movies, you'll like this one. If you've never seen one, this is a good place to start. I don't consider it a great movie by any means, but it is consistently entertaining.

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Classic Fred and Ginger

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
14 July 2013

If there was one film that comes to mind when thinking of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers it would be Top Hat. And it is easy to see why because it is a wonderful film, whether as a musical, comedy or a timeless and unsurpassed partnership. The story isn't its strongest asset, some may argue that it's the story that they remember the least about Top Hat and a lot of Fred and Ginger's other outings. However that doesn't matter all that much, because it still has a fantastical fun element and told with a lot of charm and warmth. And because everything here just works amazingly well. The art-décor settings are very sumptuous, with costumes that are equally stunning(some of Ginger Rogers' dresses have to be seen to be believed) and handsome photography. Irving Berlin's score and songs are some of the best of any 30s-50s film musical, the witty lyrics, charming melodies and distinctive style is just a joy to listen to throughout. Top Hat, White Tie and Tails is a very catchy title number and really allows Fred Astaire to make it his own, while Isn't It a Lovely Day is one of Berlin's most beautiful songs and Cheek to Cheek has some of the best choreography of any single song of any Fred and Ginger film. Piccolino also comes across very well, Ginger's singing isn't a wow factor but the song itself and the lively choreography do win you over. The songs are helped by the choreography, which is glamorous, good-natured and looks so light-as-a-feather when Fred and Ginger do it. The dialogue is very witty and warm-hearted, the highlights were the hansom-cab scene and anything involving Beddini. The characters are eccentric but immensely likable, it's very easy to warm to and relate to Jerry. And there's no going wrong with the performances either, Fred and Ginger's dance partnership is deservedly iconic, you just admire and sometimes envy how poised and athletic they both are, and their individual performances are just as charming, especially Astaire. The supporting cast sparkle just as much, especially Erik Rhodes who steals every scene he's in and even at times the whole film. In conclusion, a Fred and Ginger classic. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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