90. Swing Time (1936)

“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.”  

Remember that time Fred Astaire performed a dance number while in Blackface and it made me deeply uncomfortable? Because I sure do.

Fred Astaire
Super uncomfortable

This film, this musical, is pretty much your standard musical for the time period (minus the black-face). And I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly why it is on this list. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s a good film. I just don’t think this one really stands out as some of the others on this list do. As far as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films go, I’d have to say it is one of their better ones.

I can’t decide if I like the plot of this film or not. Honestly, I’d have to say that the actual story was one of the weaker points of this film. It seems as if it is used as a device just to get Fred and Ginger in a film together, which could very well be what happened. I mean, the whole meeting between Ginger’s character Penny and Fred’s character John begins because he asks her if she has change for a quarter. The ridiculous part is that he needs to get the quarter back (it’s his lucky quarter, after all), and then Penny accuses John of stealing it from her. She even gets a police officer. I mean, it’s a quarter. Today that quarter would be worth no more than $4.00. I mean, come on Penny.

Come on, Penny. Let it go.

And then, another part of the plot relies on two of the male characters needing to be up to date with fashion, which I just found to be super weird. The plot just isn’t all that memorable.

The music, on the other hand is. To be more specific, this film is the first film to use the song “The Way You Look Tonight”, which just so happens to be my favorite song ever. The song’s melody is incorporated into the rest of the orchestrated music throughout the film. There are several other songs, but none as memorable or as famous as that one.

Ginger Rogers is absolutely charming and adorable in this film, especially when her character, Penny, works up the nerve to kiss John. The chemistry that Fred and Ginger have is undeniable. They play wonderfully off of each other when they are acting, and that just comes through in their dancing.

Although I prefer Gene Kelly to Fred Astaire, that does not meant that I don’t like Fred. In fact, I am just as mesmerized watching him dance as I am watching Kelly dance. And the way Fred and Ginger dance together is anything but boring. The chemistry they have as actors is only emphasized on the dance floor.

Grade: C

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