Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Not nearly enough careers in the cinema end well. I suppose I’ve always known this, but it was really brought home when Robert Altman died last November: what a perfect final film he had, and how vanishingly small the number of directors, actors and writers who can say the same! Of course, 1939’s The Story […]

After a string of masterpieces between 1935 and 1937, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were ready for a break. Neither one of them had been looking for a partnership in the first place, and it was time to prove they didn’t need each other for success. Ginger ended up starring in three films without Fred […]

By 1935, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were officially “Fred & Ginger”: RKO’s biggest box-office draw, with a proper formula and screenplays being written just for them. But before their Golden Age began in earnest with the autumnal release of Top Hat, they had one last film on the learning curve: an adaptation of the […]

In 1934, a year after accidentally (or not) becoming a pair of stars in Flying Down to Rio, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were re-teamed for the first proper “Fred & Ginger movie,” The Gay Divorcee. “La Carioca” be damned: this is where most of the elements that we associate with their cycle of films […]

Back in the mists of time, when this blog was young and film commentary was more of a palate cleanser than its raison d’Γͺtre, I once spent a week reviewing my way through the first Warner Bros. five-film box set of Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers vehicles (they’re here, if you insist). Having recently been […]

In 1949, a full ten years after their ninth and last film for RKO Radio Pictures, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers reunited under the aegis of MGM for their swan song, The Barkleys of Broadway. In some ways, this is really a perfect final film for the pair. It opens where most of their vehicles […]

In an act of some heresy, I have to admit that I think Shall We Dance (Mark Sandrich, 1937) is a superior film to the widely regarded Fred and Ginger masterwork, Swing Time (and I like Top Hat better than either. Go figure). A small part of this might be because it was the first […]

Another film, another timeless pop standard – in this case, Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” one of those rare Best Song Oscar winners that deserved it. I’d never seen Swing Time (George Stevens, 1936), but now I have, and I can keep my musical-lover’s certificate. I have to say on […]

And now for something completely different…Fred & Ginger blogging, day 2. Follow the Fleet is one of their least typical films, not altogether a great thing for a team whose formula was so successful. In this case, Fred plays a seaman (hehe), Ginger plays an entertainer who specialises in Navy boys, and two other people […]

I got back to Evanston a bit too late to get tickets for The 40 Year-Old Virgin. But sitting in the lobby of my apartment waiting for me was a copy of Warner and TCM’s new Astaire/Rogers box set. Which, love Steve Carell though I do, is clearly a trade-up. Anyway, expect for me to […]