Top Hat (1935)

Review

Perhaps the definitive Fred & Ginger movie, Top Hat is a story of love and longing and… of course, dancin’ galore! Some of the famed couple’s greatest moments are on display here: ‘Dancing Cheek to Cheek’ as a couple, and most memorably, Astaire’s ‘Top Hat & Tails’ number wherein he uses his cane to ‘gun down’ a lineup of dancers, one by one, his tap shoes serving as the crack of the weapon.

The plot is thin, as is common in 1930s musicals: Astaire is a dancer that’s just busting at the seams with his art. He shows off some moves one night in his apartment (and what moves they are, making excellent use of the props in the room), only this annoys the hell out of the woman (Rogers) living downstairs. It’s one of the few times that a musical actually makes reference to the fact that it’s not normal to break into song and dance whenever the mood strikes you, though of course, eventually, Rogers gets in on the act herself.

Top Hat is one of cinema’s essential musicals, and arguably the best musical of its era. (Also don’t confuse it with Topper, a romantic comedy starring Cary Grant.)

Now available on DVD for the first time (also as part of an Astaire and Rogers box set), the disc includes commentary from Astaire’s daughter, a featurette about the film, and a couple of comedy shorts.