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I agree - the movies don't hold up well, but the scores . . .

. . . and the dances stand the test of time.

Your reaction to "Shall We Dance" was the same as my reaction a few months ago watching "Follow The Fleet", which has, as its finale, "Let's Face the Music and Dance", a classic. However, most of the movie is junk, though fascinating junk for those of us old enough to remember "Ozzie & Harriet" - Harriet Nelson, nee Hilliard (at least professionally) was the second female lead (she must have been a child when she did it - she certainly looks young!).

I finished watching Shall We Dance last night. I am about halfway through my Astaire-Rogers project (I organize everything in projects), and this is definitely one of the weaker efforts. It has the best score of any of them, courtesy of George and Ira Gershwin, but the songs are not well used. There are only two Astaire-Rogers duets, "They All Laughed" and "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" (a novelty number on roller skates that was a trial to film), and neither is really "killer." Astaire sings two excellent songs to Rogers in exactly the same manner -- "Beginner's Luck" and "They Can't Take That Away from Me" -- which has a cancelling-out effect. The "Shall We Dance" finale is ho-hum and only has about 30 seconds of Rogers. So the best number is Astaire's inventive solo "Slap That Bass."

Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore are even more tedious in this movie than usual; the in-between stuff is exceptionally boring. When Arlene Croce writes in The Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Book of the "essential seriousness of the Astaire-Rogers movies" (as compared to Gene Kelly's lesser efforts!), I truly do not have a clue what she is talking about. For all her considerable writerly gifts, it seems to me that Croce engages in a lot of pure projection in her writing on Astaire. None of the Astaire-Rogers movies I have seen so far is a patch on films like Kelly's It's Always Fair Weather, On the Town, or Singin' in the Rain. Astaire himself is sublime, Rogers is appealing, but once you've seen their movies through once, you only want to return to the dance sequences themselves.
 
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