Swing Time

  • RKO, 1936, B/W, 104 minutes, ***½
  • General release September, 1936

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers headline Swing Time, the romantic spirit-lifter buoyed by a sublime Jerome Kern / Dorothy Fields score, nimble direction by Academy Award winner George Stevens and the leads’ effortless (after 350 hours of rehearsing!) dancing. The blithe “Pick Yourself Up,” the undeniably moving “Never Gonna Dance” ode to love and loss, Fred’s “Bojangles of Harlem” tap tribute – they stand out among the standouts in a film widely acknowledged as one of the team’s very best. [from back of DVD case]

One of my favorites from the peerless pair. “Pick Yourself Up” is a classic moment in movie musicals! Many other wonderful tunes by Kern and Fields.

The Astaire and Rogers Collection, Vol. 1 DVD Box Set (shown right) includes this film and Follow the Fleet, Top Hat, Shall We Dance and The Barkleys of Broadway.

Details

  • Producer: Pandro S. Berman
  • Directed by: George Stevens
  • Screenplay by: Howard Lindsay and Allan Scott
  • From a Story by: Erwin Gelsey
  • Musical Director: Nathaniel Shilkret
  • Music by: Jerome Kern
  • Lyrics by: Dorothy Fields
  • Dance Director: Hermes Pan
  • Art Director: Van Nest Polglase
  • Associate: Carroll Clark
  • “Silver Sandal” Set and “Bojangles” Costumes by John Harkrider
  • Set Dressing by: Darrell Silvera
  • Gowns by: Bernard Newman
  • Recorded by: Hugh McDowell, Jr.
  • Sound Cutter: George Marsh
  • Photographed by: David Abel
  • Photographic Effects by: Vernon Walker
  • Edited by: Henry Berman

Awards

  • Academy Award Won Best Song Academy Award (“The Way You Look Tonight”)
  • Academy Award nomination for Best Dance Direction (Hermes Pan)

Cast

  • Fred Astaire [John “Lucky” Garnett]
  • Ginger Rogers [Penelope “Penny” Carroll]
  • Victor Moore [Dr. Cardetti]
  • Helen Broderick [Mabel Anderson]
  • Eric Blore [Mr. Gordon]
  • Betty Furness [Margaret Watson]
  • George Metaxa [Ricardo Romero]
  • Landers Stevens [Judge Watson]
  • John Harrington [Dice Raymond]
  • Pierre Watkin [Al Simpson]
  • Abe Reynolds [Schmidt]
  • Gerald Hamer [Eric Facannistrom]
  • Edgar Dearing [Policeman]
  • Harry Bowen [Stagehand]
  • Harry Bernard [Stagehand]
  • Donald Kerr [Dancer]
  • Jack Good
  • Ted O’Shea
  • Frank Edmunds
  • Bill Brand [Dancers]
  • Frank Jenks [Red]
  • Ralph Byrd [Hotel Clerk]
  • Charles D. Hall [Taxi Driver]
  • Jean Perry [Roulette Dealer]
  • Olin Francis [Muggsy]
  • Floyd Shackelford [Romero’s Butler]
  • Joey Ray [Announcer]
  • Jack Rice [Wedding Guest]
  • Howard Hickman [First Minister]
  • Ferdinand Munier [Second Minister]
  • Fern Emmett [Maid]
  • Frank Mills [Croupier]
  • Dale Van Sickel [Diner]
  • Dennis O’Keefe
  • Bess Flowers
  • Ralph Brooks [Dance Extras]

Musical Program

  • [0:00] Overture (played by Orchestra behind titles, includes short vocal of “Swingtime” sung by Chorus)
  • [0:25] Pick Yourself Up (sung by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, later danced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, later danced by Victor Moore and Helen Broderick)
  • [0:39] The Way You Look Tonight (sung by Fred Astaire, later sung by George Metaxa, several instrumental reprises throughout the film)
  • [0:51] Waltz in Swing Time (danced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, instrumental reprises throughout film)
  • A Fine Romance (sung by Ginger Rogers, then sung by Fred Astaire, reprised by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers at end of film)
  • [1:12] Bojangles of Harlem (production number: intro sung and danced by Chorus Girls, instrumental portion danced by Fred Astaire and Chorus Girls, final instrumental version danced by Fred Astaire and his three shadows)
  • [1:27] Never Gonna Dance (sung by Fred Astaire, danced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers)