Greetings from VKMfanHuey!!!
Welcome to the Gingerology blog for the 1935 RKO film, Top Hat!!!
Please note the 'menu' above, which has various information regarding the film; to the right (just below the Gingerology link) there are additional links regarding the film.
Please feel free to leave a comment with any general info, links, pics, or just to say hi!
...And be sure to check out our 'main' site, Gingerology - just click on the Ginger pic to the right. There you'll find a list of ALL of Ginger Rogers' films; click on any one, and you will be directed to a 'dedicated' blog about that film (not unlike this blog).
Keep It Gingery, y'all!
Huey's Review - September 5, 2013
(September 6, 1935 - RKO Radio)
Run Time (approximate): 100 minutes
Ginger's Screen Time: Approximately 40 minutes and 38 seconds (40.7% of the film)
Ginger's Character: Dale Tremont
GingerTunes: The Piccolino
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) (1-10): 9.0 - Dale Tremont is the textbook role in the GandF series, as the 'hard to get' damsel whom Fred relentlessly pursues throughout... her sassy side is undeniable here.
Film Condition (1-10): 9.0 - WB did a great restore on all of the GandF movies, and this one is no different....Ginger on the 'Great White Set' is radiant, and with Fred is mesmerizing.
Directed by: Mark Sandrich
Screenplay: Dwight Taylor and Allan Scott; Ben Holmes (uncredited), Ralph Spence (uncredited), Karoly Noti (adaptation (uncredited)).
Producer: Pandro S. Berman
Adapted From the Play by: Sandor Farago (uncredited)
Cinematography by: David Abel
Original Music by: Irving Berlin, Max Steiner (additional music (uncredited))
Musical Director: Max Steiner
Music Recordist: Philip Faulkner, Jr.
Music Arranger: Maurice De Packh (uncredited), Arthur Knowlton (uncredited), Edward B. Powell (uncredited), Gene Rose (uncredited), Eddie Sharpe (uncredited)
Sound Recordist: Hugh McDowell Jr., Eddie Harman (uncredited), John E. Tribby (uncredited)
Sound Re-Recordist: Clem Portman (uncredited)
Sound Cutter: George Marsh
Boom Operator: Richard Van Hessen (uncredited)
Sound Effects Editor: Robert Wise (uncredited)
Film Editing: William Hamilton
Still Photographer: John Miehle (uncredited)
Colorist: Stephen Bearman (uncredited)
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase
Associate Art Director: Carroll Clark
Set Dresser: Thomas Little
Make-up Department: Mel Burns (uncredited), Robert J. Schiffer (uncredited)
Special Effects: Vernon L. Walker, Harry Redmond Sr. (supervisor (uncredited)), Harry Redmond Jr. (uncredited)
Costume Design: Bernard Newman
Unit Manager: J.R. Crone (uncredited)
Production Manager: C.J. White (uncredited)
Assistant Directors: Harry D'Arcy (uncredited), Richard Green (uncredited), Kenneth Holmes (uncredited), Argyle Nelson (uncredited), C.C. Thompson (uncredited).
Ensembles Stager: Hermes Pan
Choreographer: Hermes Pan (uncredited), Fred Astaire (uncredited)
Dance Director: William Hetzler (uncredited)
Press Representative: S. Barret McCormick (uncredited)
Research Director: Elizabeth McGaffey (uncredited)
Script Clerk: Trudy Wellman (uncredited)
Fred Astaire stand-in: Harry Cornbleth (uncredited)
Ginger Rogers stand-in: Marie Osborne (uncredited)
Edward Everett Horton stand-in: Roy Horton (uncredited)
Helen Broderick Stand-in: Helen Weber (uncredited)
ALSO STARRING Fred Astaire (as Jerry Travers), Edward Everett Horton (as Horace Hardwick), Erik Rhodes (as Alberto Beddini), Eric Blore (as Bates), Helen Broderick (as Madge Hardwick).
Uncredited Cast: Robert Adair (as London Hotel Clerk), Lucille Ball (as Flower Clerk), Tito Blasco (as Minor Role), Tom Brandon (as Minor Role), Roy Brent (as Minor Role), Phyllis Coghlan (as Dancer), Gino Corrado (as Venice Hotel Manager), Tom Costello (as Minor Role), Jack Geiger (as Dancer), Charlie Hall (as Minor Role), Peter Hobbes (as Theatre Callboy), Ben Holmes (as Minor Role), John Impolito (as Minor Role), Lora Lane (as Dancer), Frank Mills (as Lido Waiter), Henry Mowbray (as Minor Role), Leonard Mudie (as Flower Salesman), Edgar Norton (as London Hotel Manager), Dennis O'Keefe (as Elevator Passenger / Dancer), Tom Ricketts (as Thackeray Club Waiter), Rita Rozelle (as Dancer), Genaro Spagnoli (as Fisherman), Mary Stewart (as Dancer), Anya Taranda (as Dancer), Nick Thompson (as Minor Role).
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: Well, the fourth installment of GandF starts out in a impossibly posh London hotel, where Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) meets up with his new boss, Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton) to prepare for their new musical to open in a few days. Jerry is all hyped up from downing a few GAMS (see the Star Of Midnight 'Huey Treatment') en route to the hotel, and proceeds to start hoofing all over the place, stomping all over Horace's hotel floor...which just happens to be connected to Miss Dale Tremont's (Ginger Rogers) hotel room ceiling just below. As Dale is awakened from her beauty rest (...and she must rest a BUNCH, y'all... :-P ) by Travers' tremulous tripping (alliteration, anyone?) ...it most definitely riles Miss Tremont up in a MOST engaging way.
Jerry sends flowers...ALL of them... (yeah, I'd mimic that action, given the circumstance...) to Dale's room... which is nice, but...Dale is not alone (here's the 'sleeping arrangements varmint' rearing its awkward head again...)...also within the suite or whatever is Mr. Alberto Beddini (Erik Rhodes), who is a dress designer...and Dale is his 'lead model'... thus they travel around together and hang out in the same general maze of rooms which one could construe as a 'suite'... man, it's getting unwieldy trying to shake the fact that Dale and Alberto are... er... in cahoots with each other... they are 'cahooting', as Mr. Beddini would state... ANYWAY, Alberto isn't too big on Dale being wooed by a gentleman caller - in the same sense that Horace isn't keen on his star having his mind on something other than the show... to the point of putting his 'manservant' Bates (Eric Blore) on the trail of Dale (...the Dale Trail?) in order to find out info regarding the potential interest Dale may have for Jerry.
Well, after Jerry follows Dale out to the stables (she digs horses), and a monsoon ensues, they find each other under an otherwise abandoned grandstand...hence the first of their 'spontaneous' dances.
A few scenes later, the nomadic tribe picks up stakes and journeys from London to Venice, much to the chagrin of the RKO set department...
Dale meets up with Madge, who asks Dale what she thought about Horace... with Dale thinking Horace is Jerry (...or is it thinking Jerry is Horace?), she tells Madge in no uncertain terms that Horace was quite the pursuer of all things Dale back in London... and Madge is quite surprised that ol' EEH would have enough juice to pursue that level of pursuit... so she just rolls with it, as she figures Horace is just in a 'phase'. ...meanwhile, Jerry shows up at the table with Dale and Madge, asks Dale to dance...Dale questions Madge about that move, thinking Jerry is Horace, but in reality Madge just wants Jerry and Dale to hook up, and has designs on whomping Horace (the real one) later on...
SO, although it is a bit weird to Dale, she says 'what the hey...', cause she didn't shoot the works on that feather dress for NOTHIN', y'all...
Favorite Ginger Moments: ...well, nothing is more 'sassy' than the initial meeting between Dale and Jerry... when she first looks at him dancing with the freaky statue, it's a priceless look...well like this:
From GINGER: My Story: ...honestly, there's so much said about this film by Ginger, it would be a pretty arduous task to transcribe it here... let's just note that her discussion of the film begins in Chapter 16, to the end of the Chapter... GO READ IT!!! :-)
"There has been so much justifiable enthusiasm for the genuine brilliance of Mr. Astaire's work that by comparison Miss Rogers has been neglected. She has been proclaimed a graceful and properly docile partner of the great dancer and a pleasingly pictorial young performer. It happens, however, that she is considerably more than that...For it seems to me that Miss Rogers - who, by the way, is the only actress I can think of who could call herself Ginger and not arouse homicidal rages - has just about everything needed for musical comedy excellence. She has grace and attractiveness and comedy skill, and just the proper amount of romantic gaiety. In addition, she is the best listener since George M. Cohan. She can even simulate attention to the lines of a song when a new melody is being tossed at her amorously." - New York Herald Tribune
"...because both Mr. Astaire and Miss Rogers happen to be comedians as well as dancers, there is virtually no moment when they are not causing havoc in one way or another." - New York Post
"Last year this column suggested that Miss Jessie Matthews would make a better partner for the debonair star than our own home girl. Please consider the matter dropped. Miss Rogers, improving magnificently from picture to picture, collaborates perfectly with Mr. Astaire in "Top Hat" and is entitled to keep the job for life. Their comic duet in the hand stand, danced to the lyric music of "Isn't This a Lovely Day," and their romantic adagio in the beautiful "Cheek to Cheek" song are among the major contributions of the show." - New York Times
Miscellaneous Stuff (LOTS...):
--- The film was to begin with Astaire walking down a London street, meeting a young black boy with a cockney accent, and the two performing a brief tap-style dance together; it was dropped, primarily for time constraints.
--- Erik Rhodes' character was to originally be a Frenchman, but with the popularity of his Tonetti character from The Gay Divorcee, it was decided to generally 'reprise' the Italian character, albeit with a different name of Beddini. As a result, both films were banned in Italy by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
--- Beddini's repeated mantra, "For the women the kiss, for the men the sword!" was originally to be "For the men the sword, for the women the whip!", which was deep-sixed by the censors.
--- Ginger was to sing the Berlin tune "Get Thee Behind Me, Satan", while Fred is off obtaining a gondola for their 'midnight ride'; the song was cut, but resurfaced in "Follow the Fleet", only with Harriet Hillard doing the number.
--- Fred's "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" dance routine, featuring 'shooting' a line of dudes with his cane, was originally from a Ziegfeld show he was in from 1930 called Smiles. Also of coincidence is that the tune from the Ziegfeld routine was called, "Say, Young Man of Manhattan" - which is, minus the "Say", the title of the film Ginger debuted in that same year of 1930.
--- The Top Hat routine, as all Astaire routines, was shot many times to yield a 'perfect' scene; Fred broke several canes during these takes, to the point of depleting the RKO lot supply; it is noted that the 'final take' used for the film was done with the last cane found on the lot.
--- The scene where Bates is conversing with the Italian policeman and is eventually arrested for his efforts, did not make the final release 'cut', including the film's debut at Radio City Music Hall on August 29, 1935; however, it was 'added back' in subsequent releases, including the 'common' copy we know today. The whole 'Bates as a spy' theme had additional brief scenes along the way, including his arrest and release, but were a victim of the running time.
--- The Piccolino number was to be originally sung in Italian by an...Italian singer, and then 'translated' by Ginger; due to time, the Italian singer idea was axed.
--- For contrast, the water in the Lido set canal was dyed black.
--- Ginger and Fred perform five dance routines in this film, the most of any of their movies together.
--- Fred was to sing "The Piccolino", but didn't care for it, so Ginger performed it instead.
--- Ginger's 'Piccolino' dress is within the Smithsonian Institute's Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.; the last time Huey was there, it could not be found, however, as the Smithsonian rotates their immense collection constantly...
--- Top Hat was nominated for 4 Oscars, but did not win any; the nominations were for Best Art Direction (Carroll clark and Van Nest Polglase), Best Dance Direction (Hermes Pan for "Piccolino" and "Top Hat"), Best Music, Original Song (Irving Berlin, "Cheek To Cheek"), and Best Picture (RKO Radio).
--- The film was placed on the National Film Registry in 1990.
--- Well, then there's the tale of Ginger's feather dress... but that may well need a post of its own...
GingerFilm Ranking: #1 out of 31 - It's a pretty big slam dunk...as sassy as Mimi Glossop was, Miss Tremont is just that much more, and to greater effect. Fred as Jerry Travers has the same 'reckless abandon' in his pursuit of Dale, which drives the film along nicely, knowing the endgame will be a pleasant one for all...well, except for Beddini, I guess... and the routines have become anything BUT 'routine' by this point in the franchise... with arguably the best soundtrack, top-to-bottom, of the franchise.
After Thirty Reviews:
#01 - Top Hat
#02 - The Gay Divorcee
#03 - Rafter Romance
#04 - Romance In Manhattan
#05 - Professional Sweetheart
#06 - 42nd Street
#07 - Roberta
#08 - Flying Down To Rio
#09 - Twenty Million Sweethearts
#10 - Sitting Pretty
#11 - The Tenderfoot
#12 - Star Of Midnight
#13 - The Tip-Off
#14 - Upper World
#15 - Queen High
#16 - Change Of Heart
#17 - Young Man Of Manhattan
#18 - You Said a Mouthful
#19 - Carnival Boat
#20 - A Shriek In The Night
#21 - The Thirteenth Guest
#22 - Don't Bet On Love
#23 - Chance At Heaven
#24 - Finishing School
#25 - Broadway Bad
#26 - Gold Diggers of 1933
#27 - The Sap From Syracuse
#28 - Suicide Fleet
#29 - Follow The Leader
#30 - Honor Among Lovers
#31 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed or reviewed due to availability.
Up Next: IN PERSON.Ginger steps away from the GandF team for a bit to do a light comedy with George Brent...and gets a few tunes and steps in as well...
AND STAY TUNED FOR "THE HUEY TREATMENT" OF THIS FILM...
Keep It Gingery, y'all!!!