Swing Time (1936)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

The sixth of RKO's Fred Astaire -Ginger Rogers pairings of the 1930s, Swing Time starts off with bandleader Astaire getting cold feet on his wedding day. Astaire's bride-to-be Betty Furness will give him a second chance, providing he proves himself responsible enough to earn $25,000. Astaire naturally tries to avoid earning that amount once he falls in love with dance instructor Ginger Rogers. Numerous complications ensue, leading to the "second time's the charm" climax, with Ginger escaping her own wedding to wealthy Georges Metaxa in order to be reunited with Astaire. The film's most indelible image is that of Fred Astaire, immaculately attired in top hat and tails, hopping a freight car--a perfect encapsulation of the film's Depression-era cheekiness. The Jerome Kern-Dorothy Fields score includes such standards-to-be as "Pick Yourself Up," "A Fine Romance," "The Way You Look Tonight," "Never Gonna Dance" and "Bojangles of Harlem." The peerless supporting cast of Swing Time includes Helen Broderick, Victor Moore, Eric Blore, and Landers Stevens, the actor-father of the film's director, George Stevens. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Classics , Musical & Performing Arts , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
RKO Radio Pictures Inc.

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Fred Astaire
as John Garnett
Ginger Rogers
as Penelope Carrol
Victor Moore
as Dr. Cardetti
Helen Broderick
as Mabel Anderson
Eric Blore
as Mr. Gordon
Betty Furness
as Margaret Watson
George Metaxa
as Ricardo Romero
Landers Stevens
as Judge Watson
John Harrington
as Dice Raymond
Pierre Watkin
as Al Simpson
Abe Reynolds
as Schmidt
Gerald Hamer
as Eric Lacanistram
Edgar Dearing
as Policeman
Harry Bowen
as Stagehand
Harry Bernard
as Stagehand
Donald Kerr
as dancer
Jack Good
as dancer
Ted O'Shea
as dancer
Frank Edmunds
as Dancer
Bill Brand
as Dancer
Ralph Byrd
as Hotel Clerk
Charles D. Hall
as Taxi Driver
Jean Perry
as Roulette Dealer
Olin Francis
as Muggsy
Floyd Shackelford
as Romero's Butler
Floyd Schackleford
as Romero's Butler
Joey Ray
as Announcer
Jack Rice
as Wedding Guest
Ralph Brooks
as Dance Extra
Howard Hickman
as Minister No. 1
Ferdinand Munier
as Minister No. 2
Frank Mills
as Croupier
Ferdinand Minuer
as 2nd Minister
Charlie Hall
as Taxi Driver
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Critic Reviews for Swing Time

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (5)

Another winner for the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers combo. It's smart, modern, and impressive in every respect, from its boy-loses-girl background to its tunefulness, dancipation, production quality and general high standards.

Full Review… | June 26, 2007
Top Critic

One of the best of the Astaire-Rogers musicals, and one that shouldn't have worked as well as it did.

Full Review… | June 26, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The score by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields is peerless.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Nothing so intangible as a disappointing musical score should deter you from enjoying them to the Astaire-Rogers limit.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Of all of the places the movies have created, one of the most magical and enduring is the universe of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Has Astaire and Rogers' pinnacle production number: 'Never Gonna Dance.'

Full Review… | June 12, 2016

Audience Reviews for Swing Time

A gambling dancer travels to the big city to win/earn enough money to marry his fiancee but falls for his dance partner in the process. Those who like this film are compelled by the combination of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and they find the music "peerless," to quote Stephen Garrett. While I can deny that Astaire and Rogers can dance well and the music is fun, the film as a whole is not very good. The story is a cliche. It was entertaining enough to hang around three stars for me, propelled by the fun chemistry between Astaire and Rogers (fun fact: I heard they hated each other in real life), but the completely unnecessary, racially insensitive Fred Astaire-in-blackface dance dropped the film an extra star. Overall, only Astaire and Rogers fans, those who are already in the dancers' camps, will like this film.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


"Some day, when I'm awfully low, When the world is cold, I will feel a glow just thinking of you... and the way you look tonight." "The Way You Look Tonight" is a re-occurring song in "Swing Time", though it's first introduced lyrically by Fred Astaire, as he sings to Ginger Rogers in an off-the-cuff moment at the piano. Oh, Fred plays a character named "Lucky" and Ginger plays a character named "Penny", but it's hardly worth the effort to differentiate them from their characters. Like Bogart or Marilyn Monroe, the two of them are rarely completely divorced from the characters they play, they are stars with a capital "S". Beautiful, talented, graceful stars. It's not that they are starring in a movie but that the movie is a vehicle for their stardom, a means of allowing us to see them in their element. So Fred Astaire, performing as a character named "Lucky" is supposed to marry a girl, only the guys from his dance act sabotage him and cause him to miss the wedding. Undeterred, he decides to win her back, with her father's stipulation that he earn $25,000 before he returns to marry her. So Lucky and his pal Pop (Victor Moore), set off for the city in hopes of making their fortune. It's there Lucky has a run-in with a beautiful little dancer by the name of Penny (Rogers). She doesn't like him at first, but soon the two are forming a dance routine and it's only a matter of time before love follows. But what about the girl back home? Great songs, great musical direction, great dance numbers all highlight this film, often touted as the best of the Astaire/Rogers collaborations. It's most certainly enjoyable, and even perhaps a bit touching. It's something from an era of Hollywood that has long past and is in danger of being forgotten. An era of class and sophistication that is a nice change of pace from the modern world. At least once in a while.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

It's rare that I laugh out loud with no one around. This film made me do just that. They sure don't make movies like this anymore and it's a shame because I believe it's still possible. I'll do a formal review later. Let's just say this is one to watch.

Jon Lantz
Jon Lantz

Super Reviewer

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