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Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire in Top Hat (1935).

:: I’ve loved musicals nearly all of my life, and some of the most wonderful are the ones made for RKO Studios starring the legendary dance duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Fans of these films tend to be divided on which Astaire-Rogers film was the best, but the two that will usually be named are either Top Hat or Swing Time (1936). My personal favorite is Top Hat, probably because I saw it first. It’s a beautiful entertainment, full of music and romance. Its frothy story hinges on mistaken identity, that device which drives so many comedies, but rarely is it handled with as much aplomb as in Top Hat. And the dancing? Well, it’s Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Nothing more need be said than that. In this day and age of young women scantilly clad and gyrating in an effort that is theoretically supposed to suggest eroticism, what Astaire and Rogers accomplished was actual romance — an idealization of love that is at once breathtaking and life-affirming. Britney Spears can thrash about in all the Pepsi commercials she wants, but she will likely never approach the level of artistry that Astaire and Rogers achieve in all of their numbers, some of which are truly sublime.

Heaven, I’m in Heaven, and my heart beats so that I can hardly speak….

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