After his wife discovers a telltale diamond bracelet, impresario Martin Cortland tries to show he's not chasing after showgirl Sheila Winthrop. Choreographer Robert Curtis gets caught in ...
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William A. Seiter
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Dolores del Rio,
After his wife discovers a telltale diamond bracelet, impresario Martin Cortland tries to show he's not chasing after showgirl Sheila Winthrop. Choreographer Robert Curtis gets caught in the middle of the boss's scheme. Army conscription offers Robert the perfect escape from his troubles- or does it? Written by
Diana Hamilton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The language that Swivel Tongue (Cliff Nazarro) uses was called "double talk" and was a popular fad during WW2. See more »
As Fred Astaire and Robert Benchley are discussing the upcoming show they pass several soldiers who are working with shovels. Though the soldiers are supposed to be breaking up clods and smoothing the dirt the shovels never come within six inches of the ground. See more »
Astaire and a Dazzling Hayworth Amid Boogie-Woogie Beats and Wartime Shenanigans
Barely five minutes into the film and only thirty seconds long, a small jewel is not to be missed in this vintage 1941 musical, as it ranks among the best dance numbers to be seen from the golden age of Hollywood. It's where Fred Astaire casually asks Rita Hayworth to follow him on a complex tap routine set to Cole Porter's "Boogie Barcarole". That Astaire performs flawlessly is to be expected, but the stunning 23-year old Hayworth is startling in her precision and élan. Not only is she absurdly beautiful in her crisp rehearsal togs, but she matches Astaire step for step with unbridled confidence and with her long, gorgeous gams perfectly synchronized with his. The rest of the number, performed with an army of similarly dressed dancers, is not nearly as interesting especially since the fusion between boogie-woogie and classical feels forced.
The movie itself, directed by Sidney Lanfield and written by Michael Fessier and Ernest Pagano, is a silly mistaken identity affair that feels lifted from one of Astaire's earlier pairings with Ginger Rogers and then retrofitted into a military theme. Hardly a stretch, he plays Bob Curtis, a Broadway dancer and choreographer who works for philandering producer Martin Cortland, played by Algonquin wit Robert Benchley. Cortland has his eyes on chorus dancer Sheila Winthrop and attempts to give her a diamond bracelet until his wife Julia mistakes the gift for her. He pretends the bracelet is from Curtis, which of course, leads to larger complications, especially when Curtis gets drafted and his superior officer turns out to be Sheila's intended fiancé. Off the dance floor and in her first leading role, Hayworth, already in her 38th film, is charming as Sheila, although Frieda Inescort easily steals all her scenes as the deadpan Julia, a perfect match to the acerbic Benchley.
Lowbrow comic shenanigans are interspersed with the Robert Alton-choreographed musical numbers. The highlights are an impressive Astaire tap solo set to "Since I Kissed My Baby Goodbye" and two more duets with Hayworth - the alluring rumba, "So Near and Yet So Far", and the infectious "Wedding Cake Walk" where the pair get married amid a dress-alike chorus, do a mean Harlem shuffle and tap-dance atop a white cake shaped like a tank. In fact, opening two months before Pearl Harbor, the film portends the upcoming war with patriotic ensemble numbers like "Shootin' the Works for Uncle Sam". The 2003 DVD includes trailers for this film as well as two classic Hayworth vehicles, the career-defining Gilda, and future husband Orson Welles' pulp classic, The Lady from Shanghai. The movie is very lightweight, but Astaire's artistry is always worthwhile in any setting, and it's easy to see why Hayworth became the fantasy figure of many an American soldier.
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