Swing Time is 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.
There are six Jerome Kern tunes (Dorothy Fields’ clever lyrics don’t retard the motivation, either) and while perhaps a bit more sprightly in general tenor than the quasi-operetta score of Kern’s previous Roberta (1935) for the same team, the tunes as usual have substance and quality.
‘The Way You Look Tonight’ is the ballad outstander, although not over-plugged and first introduced in her boudoir after Astaire and his pop (Victor Moore) are shown picketing Ginger Rogers and Helen Broderick’s rooms as being ‘unfair’ to them.
Finale number, after the pash maestro (Georges Metaxa) seemingly breaks up the romance, is ‘Never Gonna Dance’, perhaps the best tune of the score, with its sweet-swing tempo.
This is George Stevens’ first directorial chore for Astaire-Rogers and also his first film musical on the RKO lot. Young megger (nephew of Ashton Stevens, the Chicago dramatic critic) does a highly competent job considering everything. He’s also credited for suggesting the Swing Time title which Astaire’s personal endorsement finally clinched after Never Gonna Dance was agreed upon, more or less officially, as the release title.
1936: Best Song (‘The Way You Look Tonight’).
Nomination: Best Dance Direction (‘Bo Jangles’)