Okay, so if you don’t know that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are deemed to be the best dancing couple in cinema’s history. Here is a lesson for you. THEY ARE JUST COS!
But I do have arguments to why they are, so be prepared to be wowed!
Let’s start with my favourite dance sequence. It is Roberta (1935), so it is one of the few films that the Astaire and Rogers are playing secondary characters, and bring some humour relief with fun dance moves. The “I’ll Be Hot to Handle” is the best singing and dancing scene in their entire 10 years of film (in my opinion). This is one of the scenes that they include dramatic acting through their dance. As it is a ‘spontaneous’ dance sequence, the characters make fun of their past love for each other and their competitions they had in the past and bring that competitiveness in their dance.
Ginger, who is playing as a Scharwenka, a countess of some sort, but, to everyone except Huck (Fred) as she is actually an American named Lizzie. Their story is sweet and funny, as Scharwenka is trying to make a name (fake name) for herself, as she pretends to be an European Countess. Huck has travelled from America to Paris with his American band being hired for a job at a nightclub. However, there is confusion with their name the “Wabash Indianians” and what the manager of the nightclub wanted “Indians”.
As Lizzie and Huck’s paths crosses, Scharwenka, a nightclub singer, gets the band a job. The exact same job they were fired for at the beginning of the film. The “I’ll Be Hot to Handle” scene is the first time Astaire and Rogers dance together in the film and it seems spontaneous as they are in their rehearsal for the club’s entertainment for that night. Like many other Fred and Ginger movies, they make the dance seem effortless, both laughing and over emphasising each and every movement to tell a story. For instance, before they are dancing they are involving dance in their every day walk. When Huck talks about how they got the votes by showing Lillian Russell’s photo, Huck uses taping instead of a drums ‘da dum chee’ sound effect, illustrating how dancing is part of his life. They competition within the dance turns into a fight with no words, just dancing and over dramatic acting. It would take an entire blog post to try to interpret what they are saying, but here it is short hand.
They both use complete one dance sequence and continuously speed up the tempo each turn that they get, then Lizzie gets annoyed for Huck is showing off, then Huck is confused than sorry for whatever he did. Lizzie doesn’t accept the apology and then is bothered by Huck pestering her to forgive him. So she ‘slaps’ him and stomps on his foot, illustrating that she has won. And she has. Then they start dancing together with more joy than before. I recommend watching just this scene if any. The movie itself is a bit slow, and the only funny bit is when Fred and/or Ginger are in the scene. As they brighten the mood and give the audience a reason to stay, as they often finish films with a dance sequence, making the movie bearable to watch until the end, because you will watch a fun and happy dance before it finishes. So on the link, go from 30secs, if you want the singing, dialogue and dancing. If you just want the dialogue and dancing (which is needed to understand their relationship) go from 2mins 20secs. It is worth a watch.
Okay so I know I promised to give you more arguments as to why they are the best dancing couple in cinemas history and go through each movie that has made a big impact on me. But I will finish off with how this movie has made an impact on cinema and television, via FUN FACTS!!!
Fun Fact #1: The “I Won’t Dance” number that is in Roberta was remixed and used in Step Up 3 (2010), where Moose and Camille dance down a street in New York, using all the objects on the street as tools within their dance, making it seem spontaneous as Camille is apologising to the bystanders and being dragged by Moose. They then start competing with each other than dance together, but not hand in hand, but side by side. This can easily be deemed as homage to Roberta, but just Fred and Ginger, as their movies have influenced how cinema has depicted dancing to a mass audience.
Fun Fact #2: Irene Dunne’s sings “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”, this song title is the title for the pilot episode of Mad Men (2007). This song is relevant to the episode as the ad agency is trying to cover up the fact that smoking is bad for you and that the audience shouldn’t expect the expected, because it doesn’t happen.