Monday, August 30, 2010

75 Years Ago Today

Probably the most famous of the 10 dance films made by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Top Hat opened in Radio City Music Hall on Aug 30 1935. Let's let the director Garson Kanin describe this:

I remember going to see Top Hat at the Radio City Music Hall on its opening day. Never before and never since have I seen an audience stand up and cheer at the end of a picture. A standing ovation for a movie? I sat through the picture twice and that evening insisted on going again and taking my brother with me. Twice for him too, which meant four times that day for me. The next evening I was back again. Only once through this time. Then I went back every single evening, each time taking a beloved friend and enjoying it anew through his or her eyes.

Top Hat
was, unquestionably, a breakthrough, a milestone. The musical screen was growing up. This was a brand of sophistication new, not only to it, but to most of the musical shows on Broadway.

Top Hat was the first movie specifically written for Fred and Ginger, and it was a huge success for them, the most financially successful of their films. Many stories surround the production of Top Hat, a lot of them around Rogers' feather dress used in Cheek to Cheek:

Rogers' own design and sketch.

One of my favorite pictures of Ginger.

Long shot of the dancing of Cheek to Cheek.

Here I pass along a few of the more interesting photos from Top Hat.

The outlandish bed of Gingers in the "No Strings" section of the film.

This poster is for my friend Victoria! Enjoy, m'dear.

An RKO design sketch of the "Lovely Day" gazebo.

A set picture taken during the shooting of "The Piccolino" production number near the end of the film.

Ginger, donating the "Piccolino" dress to the Smithsonian in the '70's.

A reverse still from the last scene, showing off part of "The Big White Set" of a fantasy Venice.


amba said...


VKMfan said...

Great post, Ron! I probably should be whomped in the noggin for not posting about this, but glad to see it has been done - and really done well! If you don't mind, I will do the 'lazy thang' and post a 'direct link' to this post in a G-ology post here in a minute - with your ok, of course... and thanks for the pics - LOVE the very first one - never have seen that one before...
And the 'finale' when they trot down the of my ALL-TIME fave Ginger-Fred moments... yeah, 'Top Hat' IS the 'template' for all the GandF to follow - some might argue for the earlier film 'The Gay Divorcee', but, while very cool, it didn't really 'set the standard' like this one did.
Thanks again, Ron - Great Job!


blake said...

1935! What a year!

Top Hat, Mutiny on the Bounty, The 39 Steps, The Informer, Mad Love...

And 25 years later, we get Breathless. What the hell happened?

I mean, I'd say there's room in the world for both, but the world that made Breathless doesn't seem capable of making Top Hat.

grumbles a lot about stuff that happened before he was born