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William A. Seiter
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Ballet star Pete "Petrov" Peters arranges to cross the Atlantic aboard the same ship as the dancer he's fallen for but barely knows, musical star Linda Keene. By the time the ocean liner reaches New York, a little white lie has churned through the rumor mill and turned into a hot gossip item: that the two celebrities are secretly married. Written by
Diana Hamilton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
With a fluff plot that's sillier than usual, Shall We Dance marks the one and only time the brothers Gershwin wrote a score for an Astaire/ Rogers musical. Fred was certainly no stranger to George and Ira, they had written Funny Face on Broadway for him and also had done Damsel in Distress which he co-starred with Joan Fontaine the year before.
This also is the last complete score the Gershwins did for the screen. While writing the score for the Goldwyn Follies, George would suddenly die of a brain tumor. It's a beautiful selection of songs, topped off by They Can't Take That Away From Me, a song forever after identified with Fred Astaire. It's also one of my favorite Gershwin songs, in fact one of my favorites period.
Fred's a hoofer at heart, but he's pretending to be a Russian ballet star named Petrov, appropriate for a guy named Peter Peters in real life. The girl he's infatuated with, musical comedy star Ginger Rogers is sailing to America on the same ship.
Through an incredible combination of circumstances rumor gets around that the two of them are in fact married. All the doing of her producer Jerome Cowan and Fred's manager Edward Everett Horton. They actually have to get married to keep the ruse going. Of course I needn't say what happens after that.
Two other Gershwin standards, They All Laughed and Nice Work If You Can Get It are sung and danced by the pair, the latter on roller skates. I also liked Fred's solo number with the engine room men on the ocean liner, Slap That Bass. The brothers Gershwin obviously saw the success Astaire had with Bojangles of Harlem in Swing Time and decided to imitate shall we say.
Look for a nice performance also by Eric Blore who plays the frustrated hotel manager who is getting positively flustered about how to handle the married/unmarried pair of Astaire and Rogers in his hotel.
There is a touch of sadness to this musical realizing that an incredible talent in George Gershwin would be stilled very shortly. I do love that man's music so.
You'll keep the memory of this film long after seeing it even once.
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