Saturday, November 1, 2008

Lovely to Look At: Roberta

Ginger Rogers sings the intro to Hard to Handle in Roberta. In this scene, Ginger sports a ridiculous fake Russian accent though she is supposed to be from Indiana. (Irene Dunne who is supposed to be from Russia might as well be from Indiana.)

Though the movie is jam-packed with spectacular gowns, this is my favorite outfit. Ain't she just adorable?

What can you say about a movie so bursting with talent and entertainment that two hours can scarcely contain it? Well, you could just say "Roberta" and anyone whose seen it will know what you mean. Roberta is funny enough to stand as a comedy without singing or dancing and entertaining enough as a musical that it could be half as funny and still work. Throw in gorgeous Art Deco gowns enough for twenty movies and you have the eye candy of the century.

The ogling begins with Randolph Scott as the male object of desire who makes girls go giddy with the sheer bulk of his charm. I've always had a soft spot for Randy, due to his friendship with Cary Grant and his work in movies like My Favorite Wife. Pairing him with Irene Dunne, my favorite Cary co-star, has the feel of a bit of a family reunion of sorts. Scott and Dunne have a fun hick meets chic chick chemistry that is reminiscent of Ralph Bellamy and Dunne in the Awful Truth. I kept half-expecting Cary Grant to burst in, do a pratfall and win the girl. Really, that would be the only way you could improve on this already awesome movie.

Roberta marks the first-ever Rogers and Astaire movie I've ever seen. I loved it. Though, they weren't the leads in this movie, and take second-billing to Dunne and Scott, it is easy to see why they became the immortal legends they did. Their interactions are so easy and fun and their dancing is so seemingly effortless. My favorite number is Hard to Handle, in which Ginger almost seems to melt into Fred as they move around the stage. The band the so-called Wabash Indianians are no slouches either. Two years earlier, Bob Hope and George Murphy had starred in the Broadway version of Roberta. The producers of the film decided to combine their characters into the Huck Haines character played by Fred Astaire. They also removed a couple of numbers and added two discarded Jermome Kern songs "I Won't Dance" and "Lovely to Look At" which became more popular than any songs in the original version. I don't keep good record of such things, but this may be one of the few instances in which a film improved on stage play.


kda0121 said...

I didn't see Roberta until after I'd already seen several other Astaire/Rogers starring vehicles. I enjoyed it of course, but you gotta see The Gay Divorcee and Top Hat. Actually, you need to see all of them, but those two are at the top of my list.

Irena said...

At the top of my Astaire/Rogers list are The Gay Divorcee, Top Hat, Carefree, Swing Time and Shall We Dance and of course one needs to see all of them nad they are all rewarding.:) But I agree with everything you said about Roberta.
Regarding fake Russian accent, I still remember a scene with Irene Dunne that left me thunderstruck -
she says something supposedly in Russian but it is unmistakably in Polish.

Jennythenipper said...

Ha! maybe Polish was easier to learn or somebody on the crew knew Polish, but no one knew Russian. Or maybe her pronunciation was just that bad.

Anonymous said...

I think she was an amazing actress, I grandfather also love her, I think he saw all of her movies and all what she features.

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