The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)
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Such a wonderful movie - everything was perfect about it! The dancing was magical, the drama so moving, the music breathtaking (Dig those Oscar Levant pieces! I literally got energized by his rendition of Tchaikovsky). Fred and Ginger were a perfect pair; their love, hate, and teasing were adorable and sharp. The plot kept up with the music, balancing neither too much. Ginger's drama scene almost brought me to tears, even though I didn't understand the language of her speech. And Levant's wise-cracks and truly brilliant talent really left an impression with me. Fred, as always, sparkles with dancing perfection and a few lovely vocal numbers. A beautiful movie all around! As the final Fred/Ginger pairing, it shows that "you can't take [the magic] away" and that these two will never stop dancing in our hearts.
Astaire and Rogers' tenth and final film together, The Barkleys of Broadway, may not have been planned that way (Garland was to star for starters), but it feels like a pretty perfect wrap-up to their partnership. They play an older if not particularly wiser couple, their chemistry is amazing, and then there are songs like "You'd Be Hard to Replace" and "They Can't Take That Away from Me" which have more meaning because of their long association. The latter in particular, a reprise from Shall We Dance, actually got to me, I admit it. Ginger is rather quite funny in this, and I feel like no one's gonna say it because the great Oscar Levant steals the show with his zingers and his fun third of "Week-End in the Country", so I'm gonna say: She's funny. But yes, Levant is an equal partner in the movie, not just because he's the couple's hilarious chorus, but he gets his own musical numbers as well, incredible piano pieces where he becomes a blur of hands. I love a good piano sequence in a movie (it's why I like Marx Brothers' films, for example), and Levant is just next level. I won't pretend all the musical numbers are great and memorable ("Shoes with Wings On" is pretty crazy though), but I still liked this a lot.
'I don't know why playing caddie is the best part...I never get to hit the ball'- Pamela Driscoll
...In a film with such brilliant talent, I'd be remiss if I didn't tap into the obscure humor
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