As one of my all-time favorite critics said: "Godard told us in the 1960s that “the cinema is truth 24 times a second, and every cut is a lie.” Astaire arrived at the same conclusion 35 years earlier. He believed every dance number should be filmed, as nearly as possible, in one unbroken take, always showing the full figures of the dancers from head to toes."
You can see in Fred and Ginger's eyes an understanding that, thanks to this novel application of tricks they had played night after night in remote corners of America, thanks to this reemerging industry of sound cinema, thanks to this cultural moment that demanded their brand of artifice, they were about to capture something totally unprecedented. And unrepeatable (in the case of that blackface, thankfully).
Very strained, even by 30s comedy standards—attempting to divine the character motivations in any given scene is an exercise in futility—but it's a testament to the actors and direction that straining can look so effortless. It's equally futile to deny the spirit of good feelings. Grading this as a film is like grading the world's largest, sweetest pixie-stick as a meal. 3 out of 5 stars.
Some good comic bits. I have to attribute more scenes that develop the romance between Astaire and Rogers whether through musical numbers or straight dialog to George Stevens' direction. While I liked the playfulness of the more upbeat song and dance numbers in this one, I thought the comedy was a little behind that of Top Hat.