The Gay Divorcee
Release Year: 1934
Running Time: 1 hour 47 minutes
“The Gay Divorcee“ was the second film to pair Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire together. The rumor goes that they were cast for this film because the audience loved the two of them together as side characters in “Flying Down to Rio“. Out of all their movies together, this is one of my favorites. It has an almost PG Wodehouse tone to the story that I absolutely love and is populated with so many wonderful character actors.
The plot goes thusly, Mimi Glossop (Rogers) is looking for a way to divorce her husband, Cyril, who she hasn’t seen in 7 years. To help, she recruits her absent-minded aunt Hortense (Alice Brady). Hortense’s solution is to hire her ex-beau, Egbert (Edward Everett Horton) who is a bit of a blundering lawyer. Egbert suggests that they stage a scene to make it look like Mimi is having an affair and have Cyril walk in on it. So, he tells Mimi that he’ll hire a professional co-respondent to meet her at a popular resort. While all this is getting set-up, Mimi meets famous dancer and Egbert’s friend, Guy Holden (Astaire), who instantly becomes besotted with Mimi. Unfortunately, Mimi mistakes him for the co-respondent and hi-jinks ensue.
Aside from the wonderful chemistry between Rogers and Astaire, what really makes this film is the talented character actors. They all play offbeat side characters who unintentionally keep tossing Mimi and Guy into odd situations. This, combined with all the misunderstandings, is what gives the movie a PG Wodehouse tone.
Aside from a couple of jokes that fall flat, the movie holds up really well for being a little over 80 years old. The only section that I found myself bored during is the ensemble dance for “The Continental”. This part just lasted too long and it doesn’t help that I wasn’t into the song. With the exception of that, all the other music numbers are great. One of my favorites is the upbeat “Let’s Knock Knees”, which is performed by Betty Garble and Edward Everett Horton. There’s also a beautiful dance number that Rogers and Astaire do to Cole Porter’s “Night and Day”, which is probably the most easily recognizable song in the film.
If you like PG Wodehouse’s books and enjoy musicals, then I would suggest you check out “The Gay Divorcee”. I’ll leave you with my favorite dance number in the film, which is actually the very short one Astaire and Rogers do at the end of the movie.