‘Top Hat’ begins fall film series

October is dance, dance, dance at the Churchill Arts Council.

The Fall Film Series features Dance on Film beginning tonight with the 1935 movie, “Top Hat,” with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. On Oct. 13, Gene Kelly headlines his memorable movie, “Singin’ in the Rain,” and to conclude the series, John Travolta gyrates to the beat of disco in “Saturday Night Fever.”

Each movie begins at 7 p.m. in the Oats Park Arts Center’s Barkley Theater. Doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is $7 for members or $18 for the three movies. For members, admission is $10 or $27 for the three-movie special.

“Top Hat” has been called one of the best musicals that earned rave reviews starring Astaire and Rogers. In fact, it was the highest grossing movie starring the Hollywood couple.

American dancer Jerry Travers arrives in London to star in a show produced by Horace Hardwick. He meets and attempts to impress Dale Tremont, who is played by Rogers, to win her affection. The film also features Eric Blore as Hardwick’s valet Bates, Erik Rhodes as Alberto Beddini, a fashion designer and rival for Dale’s affections, and Helen Broderick as Hardwick’s long-suffering wife Madge.

The film was written by Allan Scott and Dwight Taylor and directed by Mark Sandrich. Irving Berlin wrote the songs for the movies: “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” and “Cheek to Cheek” have become American song classics.

“Top Hat” received nominations for four Academy Awards categories to include Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Dance Direction and Best Original Song.

In 1990, Top Hat was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The film ranked 15th on the 2006 American Film Institute’s list of best musicals.

The late movie reviewer Roger Ebert said he fell in love with the film the first time he saw it. He wrote … “There are two numbers in “Top Hat” where the dancing on the screen reaches such perfection as is attainable. They are by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for “Isn’t This a Lovely Day?” and “Cheek to Cheek.”

“Because Astaire believed that movie dance numbers should be shot in unbroken takes that ran as long as possible, what they perform is an achievement in endurance as well as artistry. At a point when many dancers would be gasping for breath, Astaire and Rogers are smiling easily, heedlessly.

“To watch them is to see hard work elevated to effortless joy: The work of two dancers who know they can do no better than this, and that no one else can do as well.”


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment