Roberta (1935)

Passed   |    |  Comedy, Musical, Romance

Roberta (1935) Poster

An American jazzman and his buddy woo a Russian princess and a fake countess in Paris.


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16 October 2003 | movibuf1962
Slow in spots, but silky.
(Spoilers, sort of) Everyone seems to be saying the same thing about this film: great music, burdensome plot. But virtually all 9 RKO Astaire-Rogers films borrowed their plots from one another. They were, after all, the comic relief in 3 different films- including FLYING DOWN TO RIO and FOLLOW THE FLEET. These films- in terms of chronological release- alternated with GAY Divorcée, TOP HAT, and SWING TIME- all which had some combination of Erik Rhodes, Helen Broderick, and Eric Blore as comic support. I could stand the 'two-couple' formula a little more so, because Astaire and Rogers weren't carrying the heavier half of the plot. They usually already know each other and make wicked sideline commentary while waiting to go on the dance floor. This is most evident in their first duet in ROBERTA, "I'll Be Hard To Handle," which appears completely spontaneous, even though it is a rehearsal. Astaire and Rogers wear matching shirts and slacks and enjoy a very funny debate with their tapping feet. We seamlessly go from this sequence to a breathtaking moment with Irene Dunne and title character Helen Westley framed around the song "Yesterdays." (It's a bewitching moment when the light dims in the room as the vocal simultaneously fades away.) And to those of you complaining about the excessive fashion show sequences: well, that's the plot of the movie; didn't you see that coming? All the crazy clothes are worth seeing for the Astaire-Rogers duet of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." Following a cameo by a platinum-haired Lucille Ball, Rogers emerges as one of the models on parade in a satin gown and joins Astaire for a tender 'walk-around-the-floor' turn. Sublime stuff.

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