Tuesday, February 25, 2014


The other afternoon, I watched the marvelous Top Hat (1935), a musical comedy starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, filmed in splendid black and white, with Irving Berlin songs, stylish Art Deco settings, and wonderful costumes. What a joy to watch the two dance and listen to them sing. Below is the video clip of "Cheek to Cheek" from the movie. Listen to Astaire hit the high notes, which Berlin worried he might not be able to do. I've long thought Fred Astaire was not given his due for his singing talent. He didn't have a large voice, but his style and grace do full justice to the songs.

The film includes a group dance scene shot from above in Busby Berkeley style, though not nearly as complex as Berkeley's production numbers.

Astaire hated Ginger Rogers' dress with ostrich feathers in the "Cheek to Cheek" scene, because feathers came loose from the dress and flew all over, but Rogers wanted the dress and held her ground. Astaire called her "Feathers" thereafter. Before I send the DVD back, I will watch the film again.

Later: The second time around, I noted the ostrich feathers flying around and lying on the floor.

Years ago, I purchased a set of cassettes produced by the Smithsonian titled "American Popular Song", with a cover by Al Hirschfeld.  The set includes several songs brilliantly performed by Fred Astaire - "Cheek to Cheek", "Puttin'on the Ritz", and even "Night and Day", a difficult song to sing to sing well.

Here's the video clip of "Cheek to Cheek", with Astaire singing and Astaire and Rogers dancing and the ostrich feathers flying, which detract not at all from the brilliance of their performance.


  1. Thanks Grandma! I've not seen that it a while and it was good of you to remind me. That's "Seduction by Dance!", a very sexy event.
    Notice that there's only 5 or 6 takes for the full dance sequence? Some are over a full minute which would be rare these days.
    Regards, MikeN.

    1. All the dances are sexy. The dance in the bandstand after Rogers gets caught in the rain is a seduction scene in which she succumbs to Astaire's advances. Lovely to watch.

  2. Aw, one of my all-time faves---have loved it since sitting down to watch it w/ my mom and grandmother as a child. It's been too long since I last saw it...

    "Every once in a while I suddenly find myself dancing" <3<3<3

    1. The movie is certainly one I want to watch over and over.

  3. Classic film, always a delight to watch Fred & Ginger dance - feathers or no.

    BTW there's a documentary about the film biz called, wittily, Tales from the Script, which features an interview with Hirschfeld himself. If that sort of thing interests you, it's available on Netflix.

    1. Thanks, Russ. I look for the documentary on Netflix.


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