Friday, January 22, 2010

Revival: Swing Time

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers star in George Stevens' legendary SWING TIME showing three times this week at the Charles.

Saturday, January 23 at Noon
Monday, January 25 at 7PM
Thursday, January 28 at 9PM

1936 George Stevens. Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore, Helen Broderick, Eric Blore. 103m. bw.

"...The score by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields is peerless – ‘A Fine Romance’, ‘The Way You Look Tonight’, ‘Pick Yourself Up’, and Fred’s turn with Berkeley-esque trimmings, ‘Bojangles of Harlem’. And nothing Fred and Ginger did together surpasses their lengthy, climactic duet, taking off from ‘Never Gonna Dance’, which reminds you that dance is the most perfect sexual metaphor of them all."
-- Time Out, London

"...TOP HAT and SWINGTIME...see these before you die!"
--Mel Brooks

"The plot is strictly secondary to dancing, which is beautiful and elegant to the point of being otherworldly."
--Chris Kaltenbach

"The best of the Astaire-Rogers films."
– Roger Ebert

"A jaunty little masterpiece."
– Time Out New York

"The pinnacle of the Astaire-Rogers series."
--Film Forum

"There are many reasons why Swing Time is the best of the Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies. This film, unlike their others, has a director with a point of view, the talented George Stevens, who recognizes and amplifies the emotion in their pairing...The music by Jerome Kern (with lyrics by Dorothy Fields) is much darker and more complex than their previous Irving Berlin scores.... great deal of thought has been put into Swing Time. Everyone knows what works for this team, and everyone is taking chances.....(The) ending took close to 50 takes to complete. In the last few, Rogers's feet were bleeding and had to be bandaged under her shoes. The pain of Swing Time lies in the apotheosis of its dances, the fact that it has a fine director who cares about what he's doing, and the wrenching feeling that Astaire and Rogers have reached the height of their historic partnership right at the moment when it's coming to an end."
-- Slant

"When you see anyone--an athlete, a musician, a dancer, a craftsman--doing something difficult and making it look easy and a joy, you feel enhanced. It is a victory for the human side, over the enemies of clumsiness, timidity and exhaustion. The cynical line on Astaire and Rogers was, 'She gave him sex; he gave her class.' Actually, they both had class, and sex was never the point. The chemistry between Fred and Ginger was not simply erotic, but intellectual and physical: They were two thoroughbreds who could dance better than anyone else, and knew it. Astaire's later dance partners danced in his spotlight, but Ginger Rogers, the dance critic Arlene Croce wrote, 'shed her own light.'....
The best of the Astaire-Rogers films is their fifth, ``Swing Time'' (1936), directed by George Stevens at a time when he was a king at RKO Radio Pictures (his other credits in that period included 'Alice Adams' and 'Gunga Din'). The plot, with its sly drolleries, is based like 'Top Hat' on mistaken identities, but it's wittier and more cleverly written; it could have been devised by P.G. Wodehouse. It serves to link the great dance sequences, built around Jerome Kern songs, including the climactic 'Never Gonna Dance' number that may be the high point of the Astaire-Rogers partnership."
-- Roger Ebert

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