Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #1

Re: Top Hat (1935)

Just read your review of Top Hat, and while it’s odd that you didn’t mention the killer performances by Helen Broderick, Eric Blore, and the brilliant Edward Everett Horton, I realize that there are space limitations.

Now, I know that the consensus viewpoint is sometimes, even often, wrong. But sometimes the consensus is right. I point this out because I have never heard anyone, even the tragically unimaginative types who don’t like Astaire/Rogers movies, refer to Astaire’s screen persona as “somewhat annoyng.”

Please tell me this is a typo, or you’d had a bad day, or you had someone else write the review for you, or that you weren’t thinking of Fred Astaire, you were thinking of Nicholas Cage.

Because, whether you enjoy these movies or not, it is simply an objective fact that Astaire is thoroughly charming and a gifted comedic actor, as well as a fine dancer. You might as well say Ginger Rogers isn’t pretty or doesn’t have a nice figure.

Did I say Astaire’s screen persona was “somewhat annoying”? Heh. How careless of me. What I meant to say is that he generally comes off as smug, insouciant, conceited and shallow.

I mean, really, how the heck do you star with Audrey Hepburn — Audrey Hepburn, for pity’s sake — in movie called Funny Face — and when the title song comes up, you’re the one singing about how she’s the one with the funny face? What on earth does Astaire see when he looks in the mirror, anyway?

Oh, and Mrs. Decent Films agrees with me.

Incidentally, I don’t have space limitations, I have time limitations. I write up movies in my off hours, and the amount of time I’m able to invest in a review varies wildly. Also I’m less inclined to invest a lot of energy in a review when (a) I think that others have already done the film sufficient justice and (b) I’m not sure I have anything very unique, interesting or important to say about it.

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