Starring: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore
Director: George Stevens
Running Time: 103 mins
Swing Time is an American film about a dancer who, after missing his wedding, is forced to make up $25,000 in order to regain permission from his fiancée’s father, and so decides to go to New York City. However, whilst in the big city, he meets a beautiful young dancer, who causes complications for his planned wedding.
I enjoyed this film. It’s not a riotous laughter-fest, and its occasional excessive emphasis on dance sequences that add little to the story make it less engaging than it could have been. However, thanks to two excellent central performances with brilliant chemistry, some pleasant songs and an overall calm and enjoyable atmosphere, it’s hard not to like Swing Time, even if it’s not something that’ll blow you away.
If there’s one part of this movie that’s really good, then it’s the performances. Fred Astaire is great fun to watch throughout, and makes for a brilliantly charismatic and likeable leading man, whilst Ginger Rogers is just as entertaining in the supporting role. They’re both legendary actors, and the performances (as well as their dancing) show clearly what they can do, but it’s their chemistry that really makes the movie.
Whilst they both do a good job at being funny and likeable on their own, there’s nothing better in this film than watching the back and forth between Astaire and Rogers. Although there’s surprisingly little bickering for a romantic comedy, they pull it off brilliantly when it comes to it, whilst their rapport as their relationship becomes ever stronger really makes for a pleasant watch, and is the centrepiece that really holds this whole film together.
Beyond the leading duo, the film is still a good watch. The story may be fluffy, but it’s enjoyable throughout, with a great array of hijinks and awkward situations that make for a good laugh. George Stevens also does well to give the film its calm and upbeat atmosphere, never going too deep into the drama of the central romance to forget the comedy, and that really made a difference to my enjoyment of this film, something that very few romantic comedies can pull off successfully.
Of course, I still wasn’t enthralled by Swing Time. Yes, it’s a nice watch, and Astaire and Rogers have some excellent chemistry, but there are still quite a few problems that prevent it from being a really great film. For one, the comedy’s not really that great. It’s nice and makes for the odd chuckle, but there are a lot of good comedies from the late 1930s that are filled to the brim with hilarious jokes, so it was disappointing for me that I just wasn’t laughing so much.
Also, the dancing becomes a little tiresome after a while. The choreography is great, and the onscreen chemistry that shines through in the leading pair’s dance duets is initially good to see, but as the film unfolds, we get more and more overlong dance sequences that just don’t add to the story. Nice to look at they may be, but spending a good five minutes watching the dancing with little other value wasn’t so good, and became a major point of irritation for me by the end.
Overall, I did enjoy Swing Time, what with the pleasant and upbeat atmosphere, coupled with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ brilliant chemistry. However, it’s a film with little narrative flair, nor does it really excel when bringing big laughs to the table. It’s a pleasant watch for a Sunday afternoon, but not something that you’ll remember as one of the best comedies of all, and that’s why it gets a 7.3 from me.