Friday, March 9, 2012

100 Classic Movies #26 - Top Hat (1935)


Unrated, 1 hr. 37 min.  Directed By:  Mark Sandrich.  Release Date:  Sep 6, 1935.  DVD Release Date:  Aug 16, 2005.

As you can probably tell by my Futurama buddies on the poster attached to this, Top Hat didn’t really work for me, and for a lot of reasons.  I had a hard time liking Astaire’s Jerry Travers, although he wasn’t alone, since I don’t think there was a single male character in this movie that I would have liked to have gone out of the town with.  There were a few I wouldn’t have pissed on if they were on fire.  Actually, Rogers’ Dale Tremont was the only major character I liked even a little, and I thought she was… a little dumb.  Maybe gullible is a better word.  No matter what you call it, it wasn’t an attractive look.  I had problems with the garish art deco backdrops that appeared everywhere, and for no apparent reason.  I would have thought London wouldn’t have looked so much like 1930s glam Hollywood, but maybe I just don’t know all that much about how different places are well, different.  Yeah, that might be it (PS: this is sarcasm and lots of it).  I actually thought there was too much singing and dancing, too, but I can attribute that to my continuing illness thanks to a sinus infection, and a certain readiness for bed.  I’m also still trying to determine who decided that Astaire should have visibly more makeup than his female co-star.

But let’s get to how this DID work for me, because you’ll notice the dichotomy between what I thought about the movie and how enjoyable it was for me.  I thought the dancing between Astaire and Rogers was pretty great, and I have to admit I had more than a few chuckles watching feathers fly off her dress during the “Cheek to Cheek” dance.  I’d have been sneezing my head off in Astaire’s place and cursing the spirits of the 20 ostriches that must have given their lives to make that dress that made Rogers look a little bit like an Afghan hound.  The dialogue is razor sharp and funny, focused mostly on the lead couple and Eric Blore’s Bates character.

I realized that I’d heard most of the music before, and that I didn’t think it was terrible, although I would have been happier with one or two less song and dance routines.  A little is okay, too much ends up like A Chorus Line, and not in the good way.  I won’t ever say that these two don’t have talent, and I’d be up for seeing a different one of their films when I’m feeling a bit better, although I have to admit that I like the idea of a world with so few problems that a song and a dance seems to fix everything.  I’d actually import that if I could.

But, the whole thing felt a bit dull.  There wasn’t enough conflict in the story to really keep my interest throughout, and I got tired of wondering when Astaire would appear on SNL’s “Old French Whore” skit as a guest.  There’s a little too much of Broadway in this movie, and I might have liked it better if it had been a stage performance.