Movie Reviews By Bil Antoniou
Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1939. RKO Radio Pictures. Screenplay by Richard Sherman, adaptation by Oscar Hammerstein II, Dorothy Yost, based on the stories My Husband and My Memories of Vernon Castle by Irene Castle. Cinematography by Robert De Grasse. Produced by George Haight. Music by Robert Russell Bennett. Production Design by Van Nest Polglase. Costume Design by Edward Stevenson. Film Editing by William Hamilton.
Ginger and Fred‘s last movie together for RKO is a perfect fit but a sad disappointment. In making a biopic on dance sensations Vernon and Irene Castle, the Fred and Ginger of the pre-war period, you could hardly find better casting. What it lacks, however, is the sharp wit and champagne-glint elegance that makes movies like Top Hat and Shall We Dance so perennially enjoyable. Astaire plays Vernon Castle, a low-billed stage comedian who is encouraged by his sweet girlfriend Irene Foote (Rogers) to pursue his dance talents with her. After marrying they struggle in Paris until they are discovered at the Cafe de Paris and become an international sensation. There’s almost no singing but lots of fantastic dancing; still, without the comedic interplay that Fred and Ginger used to employ (this one’s a tragic biopic) it comes off more as the kind of movie that wishes it was one of theirs.