Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Barkleys of Broadway (Charles Walters, 1949) B- (x2)

I never thought I would ever find the occasion or need to re-screen this film, but Nick at Nick's Flick Picks had been praising Ginger Rogers to high heavens for her performance here, going so far as to say that she should have won the Oscar for it. I saw this movie a few years ago and I thought it was your average Astaire-Rogers vehicle with the same type of performance from Ginger Rogers that we had been getting since the 30's. On this viewing, I discovered the beauty of this performance and how it wasn't just another Rogers' performance. Ten years after the last Astaire-Rogers vehicle, Ginger came roaring back in with style and class. The role combines the best attributes of Rogers' previous Oscar-worthy work (the dancing and personality in Top Hat and the comedic chops from Stage Door) and showcases her in a way we had never seen before. My favorite scene is at the art gallery when the pretentious art is showcasing his new piece dedicated to the Barkleys and she gives these hilarious and subtle sideways glances to Astaire when the artist calls her the pancake batter. It could have been overdone, but Rogers finds a nice middle ground. As for the rest of the film, its generally pretty good, if a bit clumsily done. The musical numbers are great, especially the magical rehearsal scene where Astaire and Rogers simply tap dance together and remind us of how great they were together, but, in the context of the story, they really added nothing to the plot (even the "Top Hat, White Tails and Cane" number in Top Hat had a little purpose).

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