Movie: Swing Time
My Rating: 3 stars
Fred Astaire is a delight. He has such a charming, gaunt, little face. And, he’s as nimble as a Billy goat. I guess my love for dance movies extends back into the old-timey sort as well. I do love choreography. And that’s definitely why I’m watching these movies. Because I don’t really care if the local dance troupe saves the neighborhood rec center. And, these dance movies from the 1930s were similarly light on plot. Why develop a coherent and compelling narrative when you can solve any conflict or plug any plot hole with an auspiciously timed song and dance number?
So, in this story, Fred Astaire wants to get married. But, his future father in law isn’t totally sold on the idea of a dancer in a variety show wedding his daughter. So, Fred’s going to travel to New York for a while to prove his worth by . . . gambling and dancing? Can that be right? I mean, I guess it sounds about as plausible as saving the community center through the power of dance, right? But who cares! While in New York, Fred meets Ginger Rogers, a lovely dance instructor. And they fall in love, which puts Fred in an awful pickle. He’s still planning on taking his gambling winnings back to his fiancé in order to get permission from her father to marry. But as a dance instructor, Ginger has landed Fred a permanent job dancing at a supper club. Of course, this leads to a rather unfortunate black-face dance number. And, that’s a bit awkward if you’re watching this movie in a mixed crowd. So, perhaps it wouldn’t be a terrible thing for Fred to head back home to live a responsible life in the suburbs. But once that cringe-inducing dance number is over, the story goes back to the predictable “boy gets the girl” narrative.
All in all, this is a pretty cute movie. And I do recommend it to casual viewers—insensitive dance numbers aside. You don’t have to be an aficionado of fine film to appreciate this one. Because I’ve found that a lot of these movies from the 1930s are actually a lot of fun. These pre-war movies are usually pretty sexy, and full of exciting night life. Of course, the movie has got nothing compared to the Thin Man movies, or the Busby Berkely films. Those will always be the gold standard. But even I, a person who is typically pretty bored by old-fashioned movies, founds this one to be fun to watch. So, I say it’s definitely worth checking out.