#95 Swing Time (1936)

The incredible dancing duo is back in this next film! This was the most popular film of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as a onscreen team next to Top Hat as well as their sixth film together. Swing Time is when a dancer/gambler tries to gamble his way into $25,000 in order to marry his fiancée until he falls for a dancing teacher.

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Awww, aren’t these two adorable?! So we see a similar story here that we see in Top Hat where the plot is confusing and really doesn’t make much sense in that a gambler falls for a dance instructor even though he’s supposed to get married. Another familiar plot is seeing Astaire trying to pursue Rogers while she’s playing hard to get but you can tell she secretly likes his efforts. Sure, he can be annoying but once you hear his voice and he waltzes his way into your heart with his shiny tux, he’s hard to ignore. But it’s not the storyline that made audiences fall in love with this feel-good film but its music and the toe-tapping numbers. I love the number “The Way You Look Tonight” which won Best Song at the Oscars. In this scene, Rogers is still trying to make Astaire leave but lures her to his direction by singing to her “The Way You Look Tonight.” She lovingly walks towards him with soap all over her head (which was actually whipped cream)- making this song hilariously ironic because of the way she looks that night! You’ve heard this number by Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé. But the way Fred Astaire sings this song, you feel like he means it.

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Then there’s the number “Never Gonna Dance” (which was almost the title of the film)- a melancholy song in which Astaire and Rogers must part so they have one last dance together. The dancing itself starts out slow in which they are sad because this is their last dance but then gradually turns fast-paced in which they must make the most of this moment. Did you know that Ginger Rogers’s feet were bleeding though her shoes throughout the whole dance? Well, can you blame her feet?! All of those rehearsals she must have done and the many twirls she’s doing in heels! She was probably screaming inside but I consider herself a trooper for still going through with it. One major flaw with this film was the ending. It still left me confused and made no sense to me please try your hardest to let that go. You’ll love this film if you love Astaire/Rogers as well as the incredible choreography you’ll see throughout the film. 

Watch Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’s sixth film together and write in what you think:

#94 Modern Times (1936)

There’s nothing that can make you smile like Charlie Chaplin’s character, The Tramp. He is the light that shines bright and joyous in a dark time when everyone was miserable and out of work. In Chaplin’s last silent film he made, Modern Times is when The Tramp tries to make ends meet during the beginning of the Industrial Age with a beautiful thief by his side to make it all the worth while. 

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There are so many things to say about this wonderful film that I don’t know where to start. I guess I’ll first start off by saying how we really see the battle between man and machine in this film. It used to be a long time ago where people were the ones who did the hard, strenuous tasks. Then as the Industrial Age came to be, machines proved to be of more use to humans. Why pay humans when machines can take care of all of the work? That’s what Gandhi of all people told Charlie Chaplin which is what inspired him to make this film. He realized that while it may seem like machines are the miracle that the world needs to keep it running, it also put a lot of people out of work homeless, sad, hungry, and frustrated. It can make anyone go crazy trying to compete against machines as The Tramp tries to keep up with the speed of an assembly line tightening everything in sight before he passes out. While the clumsiness and silly shenanigans that comes out of being The Tramp makes us entertained as an audience, it also leads to his downfall with trying to survive in The Great Depression. Does anyone from this era have any memories growing up around this time?

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The above picture is scary to look at, right? I know, I got chills too! Believe it or not, that was glass by the edge. No wonder Chaplin made it look so easy! As we see The Tramp constantly trying to get used to the machine age, I feel like it parallels with Charlie Chaplin trying to adjust to living in the sound film age. Chaplin always made silent films. They were his niche. This is the last silent film he’s ever made. He was about to make this film a talkie but the character of The Tramp is a silent artist where he was always known for his actions speaking louder than his words. So what would be the purpose of giving him dialogue for? While this may be considered a silent classic, there are actually are some lines of dialogue from the other characters as well as sound effects for the machines and any other props that The Tramp would fumble over. We even hear some singing but I won’t say from whom! 

One of the most important elements of the film that can turn anyone into a ball of mush is hearing the song Smile in the background composed by Charlie Chaplin himself. The tone of the song sounds melancholy in which we see The Tramp and the love of his life Ellen not being able to catch a break after having their setbacks into living a good life but there’s also the sound of hope. To just keep on smiling. We can learn a lot from The Tramp. He reminds me of Charlie Brown in which Charlie Brown is an underdog who keeps trying to be a winner only to keep falling down. Like Charlie Brown, The Tramp sure does a lot of falling. I mean, he couldn’t be in the shack that Ellen found for them without him making everything fall to pieces! But he never gives up. So find someone to walk into the sunset and just smile!

Watch The Tramp’s last screen appearance in Modern Times and write in your opinions on the film:

#93 Peter Ibbetson (1935)

Do you believe in a soulmate? A person that you’re just destined to be with no matter how long you’ve known each other or how far apart you can be from each other? Well, that’s how it is for the characters of Peter and Mary in this romantic, surrealist film. Peter Ibbetson was a little boy whose first love got separated from him after his mother died- only to return to him many years later as an adult.

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I’ve always been fascinated by love stories of a couple who’ve known each other since they were young and grew up together such as It’s a Wonderful Life or The Notebook. Sure, sometimes the person you meet when you’re young can just be a first time thing and doesn’t guarantee you’ll end up with them. Other times, life can do funny things like bring back people in your life you haven’t seen in decades. That’s what happens to Peter when he’s forced to be separated from his young love in tears when his mother passes and he’s sent to live with his uncle in London. When they reunite again as they are older, that flame they had for each other so long ago burns again. I love the chemistry between the two as so much time has passed but they still hold on to their memories of being friendly neighbors, bickering and building wagons together. I will admit that I wish the romantic scenes could have lasted a lot longer before the dramatic turn came about.

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What makes this film different from other star-crossed lover melodramas is the clever use of surrealism. If Peter and Mary cannot be together physically, then they’ll have to be together in their dreams. Do you yourself ever have moments like that where you have dreams of someone you can’t be with but by the time you wake up, your disappointed to find it wasn’t real? Well, join the club. It’ll help you relate to this film a lot. We are able to see a fairy-tale quality about these sequences as they are told picture perfect with a soft contrast. It’s so tragic to not be with the one you love that you have to resort to a fantasy world as your meeting place. I recommend this film to those who love beautiful stories of forbidden love. 

Watch Henry Hathaway’s tragic love story Peter Ibbetson and let me know your thoughts on it: