59 user 20 critic

Roberta (1935)

In Paris, a man clueless about fashion suddenly inherits his aunt's dress shop, while his bandleader friend reunites with his old flame.


William A. Seiter


Jerome Kern (from the play), Otto A. Harbach (book) | 5 more credits »

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Navy sailor tries to rekindle a romance with the woman he loves while on liberty in San Francisco.

Director: Mark Sandrich
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott
Biography | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The story of married couple Irene Castle and Vernon Castle, sensational ballroom dancers prior to World War I.

Director: H.C. Potter
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edna May Oliver
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An American woman travels to England to seek a divorce from her absentee husband, where she meets - and falls for - a dashing performer.

Director: Mark Sandrich
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Alice Brady
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An aviator and band leader who is always getting his group fired for his flirtatious behavior with the female guests soon finds himself falling for an engaged woman.

Director: Thornton Freeland
Stars: Dolores del Rio, Gene Raymond, Raul Roulien
Carefree (1938)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A psychiatrist agrees to hypnotize his friend's girlfriend in order to convince her to accept his proposals of marriage, but she ends up falling for the psychiatrist instead.

Director: Mark Sandrich
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Ralph Bellamy
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A successful but constantly-feuding husband and wife musical comedy team threatens to break up when the wife entertains an offer to become a serious actress.

Director: Charles Walters
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Oscar Levant
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A budding romance between a ballet master and a tap dancer becomes complicated when rumors surface that they're already married.

Director: Mark Sandrich
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton
Swing Time (1936)
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A performer and gambler travels to New York City to raise the $25,000 he needs to marry his fiancée, only to become entangled with a beautiful aspiring dancer.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore
Top Hat (1935)
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An American dancer comes to Britain and falls for a model whom he initially annoyed, but she mistakes him for his goofy producer.

Director: Mark Sandrich
Stars: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Lady Alyce Marshmorton must marry soon, and the staff of Tottney Castle have laid bets on who she'll choose, with young Albert wagering on "Mr. X". After Alyce goes to London to meet a beau... See full summary »

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Fred Astaire, George Burns, Gracie Allen
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In Buenos Aires, a man who has decreed that his daughters must marry in order of age allows an American dancer to perform at his club under the condition that he play suitor to his second-oldest daughter.

Director: William A. Seiter
Stars: Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Adolphe Menjou
Dancing Lady (1933)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An attractive dancer is rescued from jail by a rich man, who helps her to have her first big opportunity at a musical play on Broadway.

Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Stars: Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone


Complete credited cast:
Irene Dunne ... Stephanie
Fred Astaire ... Huck Haines
Ginger Rogers ... Lizzie Gatz aka Tanka Scharwenka
Randolph Scott ... John Kent
Helen Westley ... Aunt Minnie ak Roberta
Claire Dodd ... Sophie Teale
Victor Varconi ... Prince Ladislaw
Luis Alberni ... Alexander Petrovitch Moscovitch Voyda
Ferdinand Munier Ferdinand Munier ... Lord Henry Delves
Torben Meyer ... Albert
Adrian Rosley Adrian Rosley ... Professor
Bodil Rosing ... Fernande


Football player John Kent tags along as Huck Haines and the Wabash Indianians travel to an engagement in Paris, only to lose it immediately. John and company visit his aunt, owner of a posh fashion house run by her assistant, Stephanie. There they meet the singer Scharwenka (alias Huck's old friend Lizzie), who gets the band a job. Meanwhile, Madame Roberta passes away and leaves the business to John and he goes into partnership with Stephanie. Written by Diana Hamilton <hamilton@gl.umbc.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A Heart-Load of Maddening Beauties.. In Gasping Gowns.. A Fortune in Furs.. A Ransom in Jewels.. In a Song-Studded Romance of Paris in Lovetime! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | French | Russian

Release Date:

8 March 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Роберта See more »


Box Office


$610,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The songs "I Won't Dance" and "Lovely to Look At" were not in the original stage production of "Roberta". "I Won't Dance", from the flop Jerome Kern musical "Three Sisters", was inserted into this film to give Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers an extra dance number, and "Lovely to Look At" was specially written for the film to give Irene Dunne a new song to sing. Both songs became so popular, however, that most later revivals of "Roberta", including the remake Lovely to Look At (1952), have included them in the score. See more »


John is trapped in Roberta's building elevator when it stops between two floors. He calls for help. His upper body is visible and he spreads the gates slightly open suggesting he will climb UP and out. Stephanie hears his calls for help, comes to his rescue, but advises that it is too dangerous to climb UP and out. Stephanie yells in French to the doorman, who is on a lower floor to move the elevator. The scene changes to the doorman who pushes the LOWER or DOWN elevator button. The scene changes back to the floor where John is trapped and Stephanie is standing. The elevator moves UP and John exits. See more »


John Kent: Why don't you let a guy alone when he's trying to figure things out!
Huckleberry Haines: She just wants to know what you're going to do.
Lizzie Gatz: That's all.
John Kent: I'm going home.
Lizzie Gatz: But, you can't! You're Mr. Roberta.
See more »


Remade as Lovely to Look At (1952) See more »


I'll Be Hard to Handle
(1933) (uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Otto A. Harbach
Additional lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Song performed by Ginger Rogers
Dance performed by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Fashions of 1935
30 September 2002 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

ROBERTA (RKO Radio, 1935), directed by William A. Seiter, from the then current Broadway play, and from the novel, "Gowns by Roberta," marks the third pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but a return to playing comedic supporting roles, yet, having more footage than from their initial pairing in FLYING DOWN TO RIO (RKO, 1933). Not as well known nor popular as their other musical outings, ROBERTA may come off today as a disappointment, in fact, a rather dull musical film, but in reality, it's a different kind of Astaire-Rogers film, which centers mostly on displaying the latest fashions from Paris than on dance numbers. It is also a rare case found in their musicals where one of the central characters dies. When Astaire and Rogers dance on screen, they succeed into making every precious moment count, while the romantic plot involving its leading stars, Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott, presents itself as satisfying but not entirely interesting. And as with the early Astaire and Rogers musicals, this one, too, has the Continental flavor or European background, this time opening in La Havre and later settling down to Paris, France. Again, this is a reworking of a stage play and looks it, without the use of real projection backdrops of the streets of Paris nor a car chase to speed up the pacing.

Let's begin: John Kent (Randolph Scott), an All-American football player and coach comes to Paris to visit his Aunt Minnie (Helen Westley), known nationally as "Roberta," who has left the United States years ago earning her fortune in Paris as a dressmaker. Accompanying John is his friend, band-leader Huckleberry "Hunk" Haines (Fred Astaire), and his group of Wabash Indianians. John later becomes acquainted with Stephanie (Irene Dunne), Roberta's head designer, and her cousin, Ladislaw (Victor Varconi), who works as a doorman. Unknown to John, Stephanie and Ladislaw are both of Russian royalty. Along the way is a Polish countess, Scharwenka (Ginger Rogers), who shows she's hard to handle towards Stephanie when unsatisfied with the dresses presented to her. When Hunk is introduced to the countess, he recognizes her as Elizabeth "Lizzie" Gatz, a former girlfriend from back home. Because of her influence in Paris, Lizzie helps Hunk and the band obtain jobs at the Cafe Russe. All goes well until Roberta dies, leaving John to inherit the dress shop, and the visitation of Sophie Keel (Claire Dodd), a snobbish girl John once loved, now back in his life, complicating matters between him and Stephanie.

While the plot plays at a leisure pace, the songs, by Jerome Kern, with additional lyrics by Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh, help it along. The musical program includes: "Let's Begin" (sung by Fred Astaire and Candy Candido); "Russian Folk Song" (sung by Irene Dunne); "I'll Be Hard to Handle" (sung by Ginger Rogers/danced by Astaire and Rogers); "Yesterdays" (sung by Irene Dunne); "I Won't Dance" (sung by Rogers and Astaire/ dance solo by Astaire); "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" (sung by Irene Dunne); "Lovely to Look At" (sung by Dunne, later reprised by Astaire and Rogers); "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" (instrumental dance by Astaire and Rogers); and "I Won't Dance" (finale, danced by Astaire and Rogers).

Many of the songs presented are pleasing to the ear, with Irene Dunne solos hitting the high note. ROBERTA plays more like a 1940s MGM musical, in slower tempo scoring and minus Technicolor. In fact, it was MGM that later purchased the rights to ROBERTA and remade it as LOVELY TO LOOK AT (1952) starring Kathryn Grayson, Red Skelton and Howard Keel. Both film versions are currently presented on cable's Turner Classic Movies for comparison.

Of the ten Astaire and Rogers musicals, ROBERTA was the only holdout to commercial television, destined not to ever be seen again. Whether it was because MGM had a hold on it so not to have it compared with its splashing Technicolored remake, or that the movie itself would not hold any interest towards a newer generation of movie goers, is anybody's guess. Fortunately, ROBERTA was brought back from the entombment of a studio vault in the 1970s, first at revival movie houses, then to commercial television. When ROBERTA made its New York television premiere September 25, 1977, on WOR, Channel 9 (the former home of the RKO Radio film library), and for Astaire and Rogers devotees, it was a long awaited event. Unseen commercially since the early 1940s, one critic of a local newspaper complimented Channel 9 for bringing back this long unseen musical gem, and writing, "It's about time!" Availability on both VHS and DVD should assure lasting appeal.

With a combination of Irene Dunne's singing, Randolph Scott's repeatedly reciting the catch phrase of "swell," and a very lengthly fashion show finale with models (one of them being the very blonde Lucille Ball) in fashion gowns pacing the floors back and forth, the classic moments, which are few, are Astaire's solo dancing to "I Won't Dance," and the beautiful duet of Astaire and Rogers dancing to "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."

One final note, Ginger Rogers displays some fine comedic talent playing a Polish countess and supporting an thick accent that echoes that of comedienne Lyda Roberti. And why not? It was Roberti who appeared as Scharwenka in the Broadway production. Because the Astaire and Rogers combination was hot, it was obvious that Roberti would not get to reprise her original role, nor anyone else for that matter.

ROBERTA does have its moments of greatness when it comes to dances, and slow points when it comes to its plot, but all in all, it's worth viewing. And to get to hear the songs, like "Opening Night," "The Touch of Your Hand" and "You're Devastating," which were all discarded from this version, but heard as instrumental background, one would have to sit through the 1952 remake. While LOVELY TO LOOK AT (1952) has color, ROBERTA (1935) has class. (****)

35 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 59 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed