Monday, March 22, 2010

Dance the "Continental" with a: Gay Divorcee (1934).

The Gay Divorcee (1934) Based on the musical play Gay Divorce. Written by Dwight Taylor, Kenneth S. Webb, Samuel Hoffenstein. Screenplay by George Marion Jr., Dorothy Yost and Edward Kaufman, from an unproduced play by J. Hartley Manners. Director: Mark Sandrich. The movie is a  musical/comedy. This was the second of the Rogers and Astaire musicals; Flying Down to Rio (1933) was the first. It included the popular dance team of Fred Astaire and a 23-year-old Ginger Rogers, and also starred Alice Brady, Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore and Erik Rhodes. It is the first of the series to feature Ginger and Fred as the main attraction.

Famous dancer Guy Holden and his best friend, lawyer Egbert Fitzgerald, are in London continuing their vacation. While waiting on the dock, Guy sees Mimi having problems with her dress, which is caught in one of her aunt Hortense's trunks, and offers his help. Unfortunately, Guy pulls too hard and tears her dress. Mimi accepts his coat and his card, angry about her dress runs away without telling him her name or address. Mimi returns the coat anonymously through a hotel bellboy, hurting guys feelings, who is now in love with her. Guy drives the streets of London in search of Mimi and by chance crashes into her car. Mimi takes off, but Guy in hot pursuit catches up with her. After he proposes to her, Mimi tells Guy she cannot see him again, but accepts his telephone number and promises to call.

Later, Hortense, who was once engaged to Egbert, brings Mimi to Egbert's law offices to discuss divorce proceedings. Informing him that Mimi's husband is a neglectful geologist, has refused to grant Mimi a divorce, Egbert advises that a professional co-respondent be hired. Unaware that Mimi is the love of Guy's life, Egbert convinces his friend to join him at the seaside resort, Brightbourne, where the co-respondent is to meet with Mimi. In Brightbourne, Egbert meets Rodolfo Tonetti, a weird Italian co-respondent, and tells him that his "password" with Mimi will be "Chance is the fool's name for fate," a line spoken earlier by Guy. That night, while Tonetti searches the hotel for Mimi, whom he has never seen, Guy spots Mimi in the hotel restaurant and immediately picks up where he left off. However, when Guy says the line about fate, Mimi assumes that he is her co-respondent and grows instantly cold toward him.

The story then goes into a wonderful song and dance number."The Continental", a twenty-two minute production number.

Over the weekend I added the Astaire and Rodgers DVD Collection to my DVD Collection. The first movie I watched was The Gay Divorcee. I thought this movie was beautiful . I do not think there is a more perfect dance than "Night and Day"....or a more beautiful song to dance to. I do not think I have seen Erik Rhodes perform in a film before. He is hilarious as the paid correspondent. Edward Everett Horton is wonderful as the sidekick and his dance with a very young Betty Grable is fun to watch. The art deco sets and great 30's clothes are wonderful and made me wish for a time when everybody wore evening dresses.


The musical number "The Continental" lasts 17 1/2 minutes, the longest number ever in a musical until Gene Kelly's 18 1/2-minute ballet at the end of An American in Paris (1951) 17 years later.

The jumpsuit that Betty Grable wears in the "Let's Knock Knees" dance number was a garment previously worn by Dolores del Rio in Flying Down to Rio (1933).

The second (of ten) dancing partnership of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.



"Don't Let It Bother You"
Written by Harry Revel (music), Mack Gordon (lyrics)
Song performed by chorus
Dance performed by Fred Astaire

"A Needle in a Haystack"
Written by Con Conrad (music), Herb Magidson (lyrics)
Song and dance performed by Fred Astaire

Let's K-nock K-neez"
Written by Harry Revel (music), Mack Gordon (lyrics)
Song performed by Betty Grable and Edward Everett Horton
Dance performed by Betty Grable, Edward Everett Horton, chorus

"Night and Day"
Written by Cole Porter
Song performed by Fred Astaire
Dance performed by Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers

"The Continental"
Written by Con Conrad (music), Herb Magidson (lyrics)
Song performed by Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Erik Rhodes, Lillian Miles
Dance performed by Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, chorus

"The Continental"
Written by Con Conrad (music)
Instrumental reprise
Dance performed by Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers

1 comment:

  1. Erik Rhodes' character is a hired co-respondent, not "correspondent." Back in the days when getting a divorce meant that one spouse had to sue the other, if the grounds for divorce was adultery, the "other man" or "other woman" might be named as co-respondent. It's a somewhat antiquated legal concept that's been rendered largely obsolete by the advent of no-fault divorce.