Showman Jerry Travers is working for producer Horace Hardwick in London. Jerry demonstrates his new dance steps late one night in Horace's hotel, much to the annoyance of sleeping Dale Tremont below. She goes upstairs to complain and the two are immediately attracted to each other. Complications arise when Dale mistakes Jerry for Horace.Written by
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers frequently denied any major rivalry between them. But because so much of the praise and attention for the quality of the pictures has been focused on him, she was quick to point out she had plenty of input into the dance routines and was known as the "button finder," a show biz term for the person who can come up with just the right last word or finishing touch on a scene or number. She also wasn't innocent of telling a deflating story or two about her co-star. As she relates in her autobiography, Sandrich wanted a little something extra to cap the film and told his two stars to break into a dance as they descended the stairs at the end. They grumbled, preferring never just to start dancing without rehearsal, but they tried it anyway. And as Fred pivoted Ginger around him, his top hat came off and nearly plunged into the "canal" built on the Venice set. Rogers said he yelled "no, no, no!" and kicked the wall of the set hard - twice a reaction she thought uncharacteristically heated of him until she realized the cause of his anger. He had neglected to put his toupee on under the hat. See more »
The opening scenes shows Fred already seated in the lounge of the club. No gentlemen's club, at least a London club, to this day allows guests to be seated in the lounge before their sponsor arrives and vouches for them. See more »
Mr. Travers is in trouble. He has practically put his foot right into a hornets' nest.
But hornets' nests grow on trees, sir.
Never mind that. We have got to do something.
What about rubbing it with butter, sir?
You blasted fool, you can't rub a girl with butter!
My sister got into a hornets' nest and we rubbed HER with butter, sir!
That's the wrong treatment, you should've used mud - Never mind that!
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The stage star, Jerry Travers, disturbs a young woman's sleep by tap-dancing on the floor of a hotel room directly above hers. The young woman is Dale Tremont, a beautiful fashion model. In the course of the movie plot, by way of London, Venice and the usual snags of mistaken identity, the two youngsters flirt, dance and fall in love.
Fred Astaire was a huge Broadway star and social lion long before he ever saw the inside of a film studio. A lucky pairing with Ginger Rogers (a film star in her own right) in "Flying Down To Rio" (1933) led on to a series of smash hits throughout the 1930's. "Top Hat" was the third film the couple made together, and for this one RKO Radio started getting serious, bringing in the legendary Irving Berlin to write the sparkling songs.
This picture was preceded a year earlier by "The Gay Divorcee", and is a repeat prescription of that successful formula - wealthy, elegant characters, frivolous lifestyles, light-hearted love and sumptuous dance numbers. It is not merely the storyline of 'Divorcee' that is repeated here - alongside Fred and Ginger, several of the cast members reappear. Edward Everett Horton was the lawyer Egbert in the earlier film, and here he is Horace the impresario, but is still Fred's bumbling buddy. Eric Blore was the wisecracking waiter, now he is the sarcastic valet: Erik Rhodes plays Italian buffoons in both films - Tonetti in 'Divorcee', Beddini here. Watch out for the girl florist ... it's Lucille Ball, two years into a very long and busy showbiz career.
The film's first number is "Fancy Free", an amiable little ditty which sets the prevailing tone of easy gaiety. Fred leads into it very nicely, his speech becoming more and more rhythmic until he lifts off into song.
"It's A Lovely Day" has a great tune, witty choreography, a thunderstorm and a superb bandstand set. Yet the song everyone associates with this movie is "Top Hat, White Tie And Tails": it doesn't involve Ginger at all, but Fred makes up for that by being in breathtaking form, his performance exuding athleticism, grace, poise and assurance.
Ginger gets her turn to sing with "The Piccolino", a song designed to accord with the plot's Venetian setting. It is the weakest number in the movie, and Ginger sings it without conviction.
In order for the plot knots to unravel, it is necessary for Horace to be kept apart from his wife Madge for 24 hours, even though they haven't met for weeks and they are staying in the same hotel. This is highly artificial, but such flaws are rendered negligible by the sweeping climax of "Cheek To Cheek", the splendid finale in which Fred and Ginger get to dance as lovers.
Verdict - Immortal stylish music and dance.
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