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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shall We Dance (1937)

In Paris, a Russian ballet dancer (Fred Astaire), who's really from Philadelphia, sets his sights on a showgirl (Ginger Rogers) and books passage on a luxury liner in order to follow her back to New York. This, the seventh pairing of Astaire and Rogers lacks a consistently witty screenplay and the usual assortment of engaging supporting characters that are the earmark of their best vehicles. Fortunately, there's a terrific batch of original songs by George and Ira Gershwin including the haunting They Can't Take That Away From Me, They All Laughed and the clever Let's Call The Whole Thing Off as well as several memorable dance numbers: Astaire's solo to Slap That Bass, Astaire and Rogers' dance on roller skates in Central Park and the finale with Astaire dancing with dozens of girls wearing Ginger Rogers masks. Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore are around doing their patented specialties, befuddlement for Horton and indignation for Blore as well as Jerome Cowan, Ann Shoemaker, the purring voiced Ketti Gallian and ballerina Harriet Hoctor whose specialty is dancing en pointe while doing a back-bend.

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