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      Swing Time

      Released Aug 28, 1936 1 hr. 45 min. Musical Comedy List
      93% 30 Reviews Tomatometer 86% 5,000+ Ratings Audience Score Dexterous and risk-taking Lucky Garnett (Fred Astaire) pursues dancing and gambling with equal verve. Engaged to the pretty Margaret Watson (Betty Furness), Lucky gets pre-wedding nerves, which leads to the ceremony being called off. Margaret's father decides that Lucky can have a second chance at marrying her if he can make $25,000, so he heads to New York City to seek his fortune. When Lucky meets the beautiful dance teacher Penny Carroll (Ginger Rogers), however, his priorities soon change. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Premiered Sep 05 Buy Now

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      Swing Time

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      Critics Consensus

      Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire are brilliant in Swing Time, one of the duo's most charming and wonderfully choreographed films.

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      Audience Reviews

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      Matthew B Many consider Swing Time to be the best of the movies that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made together, making it a strong candidate for Astaire's best film ever. It has four greatly-admired dance scenes, and a music score by Jerome Kern that is considered to be one of the greatest ever used in a musical. Kern's song, "The Way You Look Tonight" won an Academy Award, was Astaire's most successful record in terms of sales. Swing Time also marked the watershed after which Astaire's career would become much harder. While the film did well at the box office, receipts fell rapidly after the opening week, and later films would fare less well. When it comes to the moral questions raised by the average early Fred Astaire movie, it is often best to not think too deeply about it. What are we to make of an engaged man lying to the woman he loves so that she does not leave him. Why do we not care that he does? Because this is a light fluffy musical in which the plot is the least important thing. We know that nobody will get seriously hurt, and that everything will work out in the end. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers breeze through the story in a suitably casual manner. They are never too upset, never too troubled, never too angry, and never too heartbroken, waiting for the moment when their problems disappear without greatly injuring anyone else. At the centre of the action is dance. The opening credits of the movie are silhouettes of Fred and Ginger dancing together. In one sense the story is merely an excuse to provide a peg on which to hang the songs and dancing. In another sense, the dances are integral to the development of the story. They are not mere unconnected add-ons. Dancing is used to break the ice between the lovers. It is an act of wooing, and yet not a sexual gesture. It has been said that dance is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire, but that is not the case here. The dancing is pure romance, a respectful form of courtship. It overcomes resistance, soothes the storms, and brings about reconciliation. It achieves this far more often than the dialogue. The sets are designed to provide perfect dancing spaces for the stars to move around in. The most remarkable set is the nightclub in which the two lovers spend much of their time. The Art Deco design has stairways that descend in a semi-circle, a floor design that looks like the characters are on skyscrapers, and a wall behind the stage that glitters. As in other Astaire films, the cinematography too is employed for the benefit of the dancers. It is mostly at eye level, but occasionally follows the dancers around the room. There are few cutaway shots to show the reaction of spectators. There are to be no distractions from the dancing. This is not egotism on Astaire's part. He knows that this is what the audience are paying to see. The best remembered of Astaire's partners is Ginger Rogers. They made ten movies together, and it is easy to see why people wished to see more of them. All of Astaire's leading ladies played strong and reasonably intelligent women that were a match for him in verbal repartee. Rogers went further, and was a match for him on the dance floor. Neither star was unusually sexy, but they had charm, humour, confidence and poise. Astaire typically wore his top hat, white tie, and tails, and Rogers wore the lovely dresses that were chosen more for appearance than practicality. In Top Hat, she had feathers that got in the way of her dancing. Often she wore high heels. The dancing was meticulously planned and rehearsed, yet somehow looked spontaneous and natural. None of Astaire's other collaborators seemed able to match him in the sheer intricacy of the numbers. Anything Astaire could do, Rogers could match – and in heels as well. The storyline may be preposterous and highly dubious at times, but nobody really cares. We watch Swing Time to see the two best performers of their age together, and to enjoy the almost athletic unity of their accomplished routines. The film is a sublime, escapist pleasure. I wrote a longer appreciation of Swing Time on my blog page if you would like to read more: https://themoviescreenscene.wordpress.com/2020/10/16/swing-time-1936/ Rated 5 out of 5 stars 09/18/23 Full Review A R Several beautiful dance numbers and some genuinely funny dialogue. That said, the romance is incredibly rushed and corny, and the stakes feel non-existent - which is what I expect from musicals of that era. I also can't overlook Fred's blackface - I find that scene unwatchable because of it. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 09/13/23 Full Review Red T An All Time Classic. The acting is really good across the board with really good chemistry between Fred & Ginger especially in the dance sequences. The humor is solid and the supporting cast is good also. The only thing is some of the humor is a bit dated and went over my head though it still got a chuckle even though I didn't get a lot of the subtle moments because the delivery was good and I did the general gist. The cinematography and music are the best parts of this. The dancing, set design, and choreography is excellent and the music numbers are super catchy and on par with Top Hat. (Arguably even better choreography wise) There is a lot of ambition in these numbers. The editing is very good, this merges a very good screwball comedy plot with fantastic musical numbers that ties into the plot really well. Sometimes it does throw new plot elements at you very quickly without buildup and coupled with the humor being over my head it threw me for a loop at first but I got it eventually. And this all leads to fantastic pacing as even though there aren't any music numbers for the first 24 minutes and can be a bit dry ironically. Once it starts with the music it really finds its stride. The blackface in this has many people noting it does come out of nowhere but it really didn't bother me because it wasn't done in a degrading or disrespectful way. (Though the practice arbitrary is racist). Besides that, I can say this is definitely something everyone should give a try once. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 06/10/23 Full Review Zachary V Wonderful. Fantastic choreography and sets, the lightweight plot more than made up for by she sheer charisma of the stars of this film. Also incidentally one of the only portrayals of gambling that I can recall seeing on film where the protagonist doesn't lose it all but in fact manages to win and keep his winnings. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 11/29/22 Full Review vin w Ginger is just so unbelievably adorable it hurts.Fred and Ginger never get old.Classic in every way Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/17/22 Full Review Audience Member The dancing and dialogue were great, the blackface not so much. I have heard Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers used in countless similes and metaphors and can now appreciate why, as their charisma and chemistry make them an incredibly entertaining watch. The choice by Astaire to don black face paint late in this film, even if during a musical number paying homage to Bill Robinson, was unfortunate and will usually take me out of a film, especially being totally unexpected or unknown to me beforehand in this case. Watching this film also reminds me it maybe finally time to get around to Zadie Smith's novel of the same name, which I had intended to read after being blown away by White Teeth. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/20/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      Critics Reviews

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      Abel Green Variety Another winner for the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers combo. It's smart, modern, and impressive in every respect, from its boy-loses-girl background to its tunefulness, dancipation, production quality and general high standards. Jun 26, 2007 Full Review Don Druker Chicago Reader One of the best of the Astaire-Rogers musicals, and one that shouldn't have worked as well as it did. Jun 26, 2007 Full Review Stephen Garrett Time Out The score by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields is peerless. Feb 9, 2006 Full Review Zita Short InSession Film The real issue here is that Swing Time just doesn’t stand out from the rest of the pack. When it does deviate from the formula, it presents us with racist stereotypes and slow pacing. Feb 2, 2023 Full Review Allen Almachar The MacGuffin It is a fantastic entertainment, so full of delight and goodheartedness that I find myself uplifted every time I even think about it. Jul 31, 2020 Full Review Mike Massie Gone With The Twins Astaire and Rogers once again prove their skills on the dance floor, but it's a shame that they don't do so onscreen, together, more frequently. Rated: 4/10 Jul 30, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Dexterous and risk-taking Lucky Garnett (Fred Astaire) pursues dancing and gambling with equal verve. Engaged to the pretty Margaret Watson (Betty Furness), Lucky gets pre-wedding nerves, which leads to the ceremony being called off. Margaret's father decides that Lucky can have a second chance at marrying her if he can make $25,000, so he heads to New York City to seek his fortune. When Lucky meets the beautiful dance teacher Penny Carroll (Ginger Rogers), however, his priorities soon change.
      Director
      George Stevens
      Screenwriter
      Erwin S. Gelsey, Howard Lindsay, Allan Scott, Dorothy Yost, Anthony Veiller, Rian James
      Distributor
      Criterion Collection, RKO Radio Pictures
      Production Co
      RKO Radio Pictures Inc.
      Genre
      Musical, Comedy
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Aug 28, 1936, Original
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Aug 18, 2008
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