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The Gay Divorcee


The Gay Divorcee is a 1934 American musical film directed by Mark Sandrich and starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers2 It also features Alice Brady, Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore and Erik Rhodes, and was based on the Broadway musical Gay Divorce written by Dwight Taylor from an unproduced play by J Hartley Manners,3 which was adapted into a musical by Kenneth S Webb and Samuel Hoffenstein4 The film's screenplay was written by George Marion Jr, Dorothy Yost and Edward Kaufman Robert Benchley, H W Hanemann and Stanley Rauh made uncredited contributions to the dialogue

The stage version included many songs by Cole Porter, most of which were left out of the film, "Night and Day" being the only exception Although the film's screenplay changed most of the songs, it kept the original plot of the stage version The film features three members of the play's original cast repeating their stage roles - Astaire, Rhodes, and Eric Blore5 The Hays Office insisted on the name change, from "Gay Divorce" to "The Gay Divorcee", believing that while a divorcee could be gay or lighthearted, it would be unseemly to allow a divorce to appear so Although according to Astaire's autobiography, Steps in Time: An Autobiography, the change was made by a proactive effort from RKO He claims that director, Mark Sandrich, told him that the “The Gay Divorcee” was selected as the new name because the studio "thought it was a more attractive-sounding title, centered around a girl"6 RKO even offered fifty dollars to any employee who could come up with a better title7 In the United Kingdom, the film was released with the original name of the play, Gay Divorce

This film was the second of ten pairings of Rogers and Astaire on film8

Contents

  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Songs
  • 4 Production
    • 41 Development
    • 42 Filming
    • 43 Censorship Issues
  • 5 Reception
    • 51 Box office
    • 52 Critical Response
  • 6 Awards and honors
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Plotedit

Mimi Glossop Ginger Rogers arrives in England to seek a divorce from her geologist husband Cyril, whom she has not seen for several years Under the guidance of her domineering and much-married aunt Hortense Alice Brady, she consults incompetent and bumbling lawyer Egbert Fitzgerald Edward Everett Horton, once a fiancé of her aunt He arranges for her to spend a night at a seaside hotel and to be caught in an adulterous relationship, for which purpose he hires a professional co-respondent, Rodolfo Tonetti Erik Rhodes But Egbert forgets to arrange for private detectives to "catch" the couple

By coincidence, Guy Holden Fred Astaire an American dancer and friend of Egbert's, who briefly met Mimi on her arrival in England, and who is now besotted with her, also arrives at the hotel, only to be mistaken by Mimi for the co-respondent she has been waiting for While they are in Mimi's bedroom, Tonetti arrives, revealing the truth, and holds them "prisoner" to suit the plan They contrive to escape and dance the night away

In the morning, after several mistakes with the waiter, Cyril Glossop William Austin arrives at the door, so Guy hides in the next room, while Mimi and Tonetti give a show of being lovers When Cyril does not believe them, Guy comes out and embraces Mimi in an attempt to convince him that he is her lover, but to no avail It is an unwitting waiter Eric Blore who finally clears the whole thing up by revealing that Cyril himself is an adulterer, thus clearing the way for Mimi to get a divorce and marry Guy

Castedit

  • Fred Astaire as Guy Holden
  • Ginger Rogers as Mimi
  • Alice Brady as Hortense
  • Edward Everett Horton as Egbert
  • Erik Rhodes as Tonetti
  • Eric Blore as The Waiter
  • William Austin as Cyril Glossop
  • Charles Coleman as The Valet
  • Lillian Miles as Guest
  • Betty Grable as Guest

Songsedit

New songs introduced in the film

  • The Continental w Herb Magidson m Con Conrad which won the first Academy Award for Best Original Song, and is the music to the twenty-minute dance sequence towards the end of the film, sung by Ginger, Erik Rhodes and Lillian Miles, danced by Ginger and Fred Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra recorded the music in their very first RCA Victor recording session, in Boston's Symphony Hall, on July 1, 1935; the recording can be heard on Youtube
  • Don't Let It Bother You w Mack Gordon m Harry Revel opening number, sung by chorus, danced by Fred
  • Let's K-nock K-nees w Mack Gordon m Harry Revel at the beach resort, sung by Betty Grable, danced by Betty Grable, Edward Everett Horton and chorus
  • Needle in a Haystack w Herb Magidson m Con Conrad, sung and danced by Fred

Other songs

  • Night and Day Cole Porter sung by Fred, danced by Ginger and Fred in a hotel suite overlooking an English Channel beach at night

Productionedit

Developmentedit

After the success of Astaire and Rogers’ first feature, Flying Down to Rio, RKO’s head of production, Pandro S Berman, purchased the screen rights to Dwight Taylor’s Broadway hit Gay Divorce with another Astaire and Rogers matchup in mind According to Fred Astaire’s autobiography, director Mark Sandrich claimed that RKO altered the title to insinuate that the film concerned the amorous adventures of a recently divorced woman “divorcée”9

Dance routines from the film, specifically "Night and Day" and the scene where Astaire dances on the table, were taken from Astaire’s performances in the original play, The Gay Divorce10 The "Don't Let It Bother You" dance came from foolhardy antics during rehearsals and became an in-joke in future Astaire-Rogers films11

Filmingedit

Exteriors set in what was supposed to be the English countryside were shot in Clear Lake, California Additional exteriors were filmed in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara, California12

Censorship Issuesedit

James Wingate, Director of the Studio Relations Office for RKO, warned: “considering the delicate nature of the subject upon which this script is basedgreat care should be taken in the scenes dealing with Mimi’s lingerie, and… no intimate article should be used”

Wingate also insisted that no actor or actress appear in only pajamas 13

Receptionedit

The Gay Divorcee was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 193414

Box officeedit

According to RKO records the film earned $1,077,000 in the US and Canada and $697,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $584,0001

Critical Responseedit

New York Times Critic Andre Sennwald Nov 16, 1934 said of the film: “Like the carefree team of Rogers and Astaire, The Gay Divorcee is gay in its mood and smart in its approach For subsidiary humor, there are Alice Brady as the talkative aunt; Edward Everett Horton as the confused lawyer and Erik Rhodes as the excitable correspondent, who takes the correct pride in his craftsmanship and objects to outside interference All of them plus the Continental, help to make the new Music Hall show the source of a good deal of innocent merriment” 15

Awards and honorsedit

The film was nominated for the following Academy Awards, winning in the category Music Song:16

  • Art Direction Van Nest Polglase, Carroll Clark Nominated
  • Music Scoring Max Steiner Nominated
  • Music Song - "The Continental" Won - the first winner of this award; it won against "Carioca", from the previous Astaire-Roigers film, Flying Down to Rio17
  • Best Film Nominated
  • Sound Recording Carl Dreher Nominated

Referencesedit

  1. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p55
  2. ^ ReelClassicscom 2008-12-16 "Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire 2: The Gay Divorcee 1934 at Reel Classics" Reelclassicscom Retrieved 2016-07-23 
  3. ^ Gay Divorce at the Internet Broadway Database
  4. ^ "Screenplay ino" on TCMcom
  5. ^ "Talkin' Broadway Regional News & Reviews: San Francisco - "Gay Divorce" - 4/29/07" Broadwaytalkcom 1932-11-29 Retrieved 2016-07-23 
  6. ^ Astaire, Fred 2008 Steps in Time: An Autobiography New York: Harper pp pg 198 ISBN 0061567566 “The Gay Divorcee” was selected as the new name because the studio "thought it was a more attractive-sounding title, centered around a girl" 
  7. ^ "Detail view of Movies Page" wwwaficom Retrieved 2016-12-16 
  8. ^ "Earliest Videos/TV Episodes/Feature Films/Short Films/Documentaries/Video Games/Mini-Series/TV Movies/TV Specials With Fred Astaire And Ginger Rogers" IMDbcom Retrieved 2016-07-23 
  9. ^ http://wwwaficom/members/catalog/DetailViewaspxs=&Movie=7108
  10. ^ "The Gay Divorcee 1934 - Notes - TCMcom" Turner Classic Movies Retrieved 2016-12-16 
  11. ^ "The Gay Divorcee 1934 - Trivia - TCMcom" Turner Classic Movies Retrieved 2016-12-16 
  12. ^ http://wwwaficom/members/catalog/DetailViewaspxs=&Movie=7108
  13. ^ http://wwwaficom/members/catalog/DetailViewaspxs=&Movie=7108
  14. ^ "The Gay Divorcee" New York Times Retrieved 2008-12-07 
  15. ^ By, A S 1934, Nov 16 ' The gay divorcee,' with fred astaire and ginger rogers, at the music hall -- 'redhead' New York Times 1923-Current File Retrieved from http://searchproquestcom/docview/101148306
  16. ^ "The 7th Academy Awards 1935 Nominees and Winners" oscarsorg Retrieved 2011-08-07 
  17. ^ Mankiewicz, Ben June 7, 2016 outro to the Turner Classic Movies showing of The Gay Divrcee

External linksedit

  • The Gay Divorcee at the American Film Institute Catalog
  • The Gay Divorcee on Internet Movie Database
  • The Gay Divorcee at the TCM Movie Database
  • The Gay Divorcee at AllMovie
  • The Gay Divorcee at Box Office Mojo


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