Sunday, 26 July 2015





FILM 1348: TOP HAT

TRIVIA: For the "Cheek to Cheek" number, Ginger Rogers wanted to wear an elaborate blue dress heavily decked out with ostrich feathers. When director Mark Sandrich and Fred Astaire saw the dress, they knew it would be impractical for the dance. Sandrich suggested that Rogers wear the white gown she had worn performing "Night and Day" in The Gay Divorcee (1934). Rogers walked off the set, finally returning when Sandrich agreed to let her wear the offending blue dress. As there was no time for rehearsals, Ginger Rogers wore the blue feathered dress for the first time during filming, and as Astaire and Sandrich had feared, feathers started coming off the dress. Astaire later claimed it was like "a chicken being attacked by a coyote". In the final film, some stray feathers can be seen drifting off it. To patch up the rift between them, Astaire presented Rogers with a locket of a gold feather. This was the origin of Rogers' nickname "Feathers". The shedding feathers episode was recreated to hilarious results in a scene from Easter Parade (1948) in which Fred Astaire danced with a clumsy, comical dancer played by Judy Garland.

The finale of "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" production number with Fred Astaire miming his cane as a weapon "attacking" his supporting dancers, 13 canes were prepared for it. During shooting, Astaire, ever the unforgiving perfectionist, was continually breaking his canes in frustration at his mistakes, which concerned the crew that he was running out of them. As it turns out, the shooting of the scene was finished with the very last cane.

Character Alberto Beddini's motto was originally, "For the men the sword, for the women the whip." The script was changed to "For the women the kiss, for the men the sword" after the censors objected.

Mark Sandrich, who directed five of the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals, was a physicist before he got into filmmaking, and would devise blueprints for every scene, so he would know exactly where to put the cameras and the actors.

In an interview with Lee Server for the book Screenwriter: Words Become Pictures (Main Street Press, 1987), screenwriter Allan Scott said that Fred Astaire was "a helluva snob" who could be "perturbed very easily by the wrong reference." Scott said he would deliberately put in "wrong" lines for Astaire to spot and carp about in order to distract him from lines the writers did not want to lose.


Ginger Rogers' shoes had to be frequently changed, because they were often filled with blood, due to multiple takes of dance scenes.

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