(Just a single rule: mix-tape-style, no more than one film per director. You know, because otherwise the whole thing would be pointless.)
(#50) Top Hat
Musical • dir. Mark Sandrich • 1935 • USA
The one and only time I watched Top Hat I was 18 years-old and roughly two weeks into my Film Studies degree at the University of Kent at Canterbury. Following a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights the week before, our new professors were clearly greeting the new class with a loud and clear message: sure, we couldn’t be any more thrilled that you enjoyed the last Martin Scorsese film and we very much like the Coen brothers too – but you better believe film history didn’t start the day you first figured Pulp Fiction kind of cool. From the get-go I was sold. How could I not be? What an extraordinary thrill it was – still is – to watch the silver screen at two in the afternoon, with no place else to go.
Thirteen or so years later, my recommendation of this particular movie might be a little light on details… but, hey, you already knew Hollywood in its heyday knew its way around a musical. And Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers hardly got to the top of a deep pool of talent through being a hack pair of layabouts. They worked their pretty little socks off for our entertainment. Then had the charm, wit, and grace to make it all seem the most effortless fun. They were the best in the business, at a time when that business was well and truly booming.