Friday, February 8, 2013

Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935)

 My first Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film, and it could very well be my last from the famed pair. I can recognize why Top Hat remains so revered of a musical film, but it did not do anything for me.

 American dancer Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) arrives in London to star in a show produced by his friend Horace. Horace informs him that after the show, they will travel to Italy to meet up with Horace's wife, Madge. Horace also informs Jerry that Madge is trying to set Jerry up with a friend of hers. Jerry begins to dance in Horace's apartment, awakening his below neighbor Dale (Ginger Rogers) who complains to the building management. After a fumble with the building management, Dale takes matters into her own hand and visits her noisy upstairs neighbor. Jerry is immediately smitten with Dale and begins to pursue her. However, another fumble occurs when Dale mistakes Jerry for Horace, her friend Madge's husband. After the show, they all travel to Italy to visit Madge. There, put off by who she presumes is her friend's husband, Dale decides to marry a fashion designer and resists Jerry's advances. The story is one of mistaken identity and has all of the necessary prototypes of a good screwball comedy.
This film did not resonate with me due to its feeling dated and due to the sub-par acting. What the film does have going for it is a fantastic screenplay. The dialogue is quick, sharp and witty. However, Astaire fails to effectively deliver the punch necessary to carry the script of the film. What he lacks in acting skills, he more than makes up in charm and dancing skills. Still, I found the musical numbers boring. I don't feel that Astaire got the chance to properly showcase his dancing prowess. The famous Cheek To Cheek sequence is the highlight of the numbers. Yet, by my standards, that too I found sub-par. Another problem I had with the film was Rogers' character. I could not sympathize with her and found her quite grating and arrogant. I'm not a big fan of musicals. I find the sudden outbursts into song unnatural. Some musicals manage to make such transitions seamless (Singin' In The Rain and Moulin Rouge) for example. Top Hat is less successful in that regard.
  Overall, Top Hat is an ok film. I was bored during certain parts surely; but I wouldn't label the film a complete waste of time. I don't think it has aged well. It feels like the film was holding back the entire runtime.

Ludovico Rating:

2.5/5. I would not watch this film again. For me, once was enough. I also am laying away from musicals for a while.

No comments:

Post a Comment