67 user 20 critic

Roberta (1935)

Passed | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 8 March 1935 (USA)
An American jazzman and his buddy woo a Russian princess and a fake countess in Paris.


William A. Seiter


Jerome Kern (from the play), Otto A. Harbach (book) | 5 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »




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 ... 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


IRENE DUNNE The Golden Girl with the Silver Song (Print Ad- Syracuse Journal, ((Syracuse NY)) 9 March 1935) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Ginger Rogers' accent is an homage to the Polish-born actress Lyda Roberti, who played the role on Broadway. 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 »


Sophie Teale: If I weren't going out with Johnny, I wouldn't be so particular. But, I'm sure he'll want me to have something that expresses my personality.
Stephanie: Suppose we have Johnny come in and help you select something? He knows so much more about your personality than I do.
Sophie Teale: Oh, no, no, please. I want to surprise him. You know, he's really just a little boy, in spite of his man-of-the-world exterior.
Stephanie: Yes, I've suspected that.
See more »


Referenced in M*A*S*H: Hawkeye (1976) See more »


Lovely to Look At
(1935) (uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern and Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
Played during the opening credits and during the fashion show near the end of the film.
Performed by Irene Dunne, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
See more »

User Reviews

"Gee, that'll be swell"
17 May 2009 | by ackstasisSee all my reviews

'Roberta (1935)' marked the third teaming of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and, like 'Flying Down to Rio (1933),' it suffers from a studio oversight: RKO hadn't yet realized that Fred and Ginger were the main attraction. This, of course, is to take nothing away from Irene Dunne, who is first-billed, a talented actress and a genuine box-office draw, but, with the apology of hindsight, it's not Dunne for whom I'm watching this film {just out of interest, this was my eighth Astaire/Rogers film – now I need only to track down 'The Gay Divorcée (1934)' and 'Carefree (1938)'}. The main plot concerns All-American football player John Kent (Randolph Scott), who has arrived in Paris with his friend Huckleberry Haines (Astaire), who has brought along his orchestra, the Wabash Indianians. While John falls in love with fashion designer Stephaine (Dunne), Haines reacquaints with childhood sweetheart Lizzie Gatz (Rogers), who is now, for show-business purposes, sporting a fake European accent and the prestigious title of Countess Scharwenka.

Randolph Scott appeared with Astaire in two 1930s musicals, and it's interesting to observe how their respective roles changed in such a short time. In 'Roberta,' he is clearly the leading man, and makes a good go at it, too – John Kent is sincere, likable and slightly naive in that Frank Capra All-American sense. Astaire is there to provide slightly goofy comedic support, and his musical routines help obscure the fact that Scott has no musical talents to complement Irene Dunne's incredible singing voice. Just one year later in 'Follow the Fleet (1936)' – after 'Top Hat (1935)' had made box-office gold of Fred and Ginger – Scott is similarly relegated to a romantic supporting role, having to settle for Ginger's nondescript sister (Harriet Hilliard). The bulk of the plot in 'Roberta' concerns John's complicated romance with Stephanie, and it occasionally gets bogged down by it. Still, whenever Fred and Ginger get tapping they kick up a storm, with memorable musical numbers including "I'll Be Hard to Handle," "Lovely to Look At" and "I Won't Dance."

Though Dunne certainly has an excellent singing voice (and it is, indeed, her own voice), the contrast between her solemn, operatic songs, and Fred and Ginger's playful vaudeville routines is too great to sit comfortably together. This, and the over-dependence on a central love story, makes the film enjoyable but uneven. As did many of the Astaire/Rogers films, 'Roberta' proved successful with audiences because it consciously defied the woeful economic conditions in which the United States still found itself. Aside from an elevator that doesn't quite get there, the hotels and nightclubs of Paris are glittering hot-spots of class and high fashion. Much effort was evidently spent designing the range of outfits that appeared in the film, and, had I cared one bit about fashion, I might have found myself in Heaven – as it were, the fashion show itself proved a little tedious. In any case, it's fascinating to note how times have changed since the 1930s. That controversial dress that Randolph Scott dismissed as "vulgar?" I thought it was a knockout!

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English | French | Russian

Release Date:

8 March 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Roberta See more »


Box Office


$610,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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