Say Hello to Freddie


This blog is quickly becoming an old movie discussion, but I’m on break from school and watching old movies consumes my life when I’m not otherwise busy.

Last night featured Swing Time (1936) with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers. If you don’t know the dynamic dance duo, I suggest you start with Top Hat (1935) but Swing was an excellent film as well.

The best part of the movie was Fred Astaire’s Mr. Bojangles scene. It was popular in the 1930s and 40s for performers to go on stage in “blackface.” They used burnt cork, shoe-polish or grease to black their faces. It’s now considered by some as an act of racism, but during the time of minstrel entertainment, it was acceptable. In Astaire’s scene, he’s in black face.

If you know nothing about tap dancing, know that Fred Astaire is the greatest. My absolute favorite dance of his is in Holiday Inn (1942). In it, for Fourth of July, Astaire dances around stage with a cigarette bobbing between his lips, lighting firecrackers and jumping around them. It’s brilliant.

In the same way, the Mr. Bojangles number is brilliant. The chorus line puts the Radio City Rockettes to shame, and Astaire’s stage presence is breathtaking. I was mesmerized by the shadows on the back wall. Impressive, Freddie.

If my raving about Astaire’s Mr. Bojangles scene isn’t impressive enough to make you want to go watch SWING TIME, perhaps you’ll be persuaded by knowing that the song “The Way You Look Tonight” was first featured in the film. Sadly, Astaire sang it. The boy can dance, but he sure can’t sing.

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