This review is being posted as part of the Judy Garland Blogathon this weekend being hosted on the blog In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood.
This film is sort of like Pygmalion, if it hadn’t been made into My Fair Lady. Except instead of being about a man teaching a Cockney woman to be a proper lady, the man in this movie tries to make a star out of a bar dancer.
You see Don Hewes (played by debonair Fred Astaire) has a dance partner named Nadine (played snootily by Ann Miller). But Nadine decides to go solo. Don tries to change your mind with the little song and dance (their old favorite, “It Only Happens When I Dance with You”). However, Nadine is obviously gaga for Don’s best friend, Johnny (played likably by Peter Lawford) and when he shows up, Nadine says bye-bye to Don.
Don and Johnny repair to a bar, where Johnny tries to persuade Don to make nice with Nadine. Don’s so pissed off at her, he claims he can make a star of anyone else. It’s on that note that Don meets Hannah Brown (played by our star Judy Garland), who Don noticed dancing at the bar. He invites her to rehearse with him. Somewhat dumbstruck at the invitation, Hannah agrees.
Well, between teaching Hannah to dance like Nadine and buying her dresses that Nadine would wear, it’s obvious that Don is pretty much trying to make Hannah over into Nadine. So, in that sense, the movies a lot like Vertigo. Except it’s a musical, not a psychological thriller. And nobody dies.
But seriously, the story is one of classic Hollywood romance set to song, in which two people who are obviously meant for one another keep misunderstanding the other’s intentions. But that’s just a handy excuse clever way of drawing us in to watch the way love can be expressed in amazing musical set pieces.
What amazes me when I watch this film (not to mention other Hollywood musicals) is not just the way stars like Judy Garland and Fred Astaire light up the screen, but the absolutely awesome choreography. The way these two move together gives new meaning to the word synchronization.
So, do Don and Hannah finally figure out that they’re meant for each other and live happily ever after? This is a classic Hollywood musical. What do you think?
And as for Nadine … oh, who cares? 🙂
This classic musical gets my two thumbs up! 🙂