Quick Thoughts: Swing Time (1936)
If he proves himself successful, having earned $25,000, Lucky Garnett may marry the girl he loves.
Flawless. Amazing. Fucking phenomenal. Swing Time is undeniably one of the all-time-great musicals. Each number is sensational, effortlessly choreographed and supportive of the narrative. The set-design and cinematography are perfectly captured by the drawn back, minimalist, classical direction. And each of our four main characters are superbly constructed and conceived. I’m running out of adjectives, but you don’t have to trust me when I say this is a great film – go watch it for yourself if you’ve not seen it yet. A wonderful blend of dance, song, romance, comedy and classical structure, Swing Time blew me away. A point of comparison I then have to make is to last year’s La La Land that everyone seemed to love.
I’ve already reviewed La La Land and, though I loved the film, the first act was lacking – as were many of the musical numbers – leaving it a great visual spectacle and narrative, not so much a great musical–though an exceedingly good one. Swing Time is all that La La Land isn’t in respect to the iconic Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers performances.
There isn’t much need for an abundance of cinematic language and production value to make their performances shine. Put them on a dance floor, shine some lights, play some music and make sure the camera keeps up with them – that’s all you need. And it’s that incredibly strong backbone that makes this film such a sensation. All the script work, set-design, sound design and direction that embellishes and supports these performances – like in the masterful silhouette number – aids in the construction a quintessential musical narrative. It has to be said though that this film does contain black face.
This doesn’t bother me nothing and it is this kind of black face…
… not this…
… and so it does kind of have that going for it. Some people will rightly find this absolutely offensive, in which case, maybe don’t see the movie – but, like I said, it doesn’t bother me at all. Nonetheless, to me, Swing Time is a terrific film. What are your thoughts? Have you seen the film? Will you see the film? Tell me what you think down below if you want…
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