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The Gay Divorcee

The Gay Divorcee (1934), starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Edward Everett Horton, Alice Brady, Eric Blore

Synopsis

In The Gay Divorcee, Mimi Glossop (Ginger Rogers) is looking for a way out of her unhappy marriage. So, her busybody aunt (Alice Brady) hires a professional correspondent to pose as her niece’s lover. When Mimi meets American dancer Guy Holden (Fred Astaire), she thinks he’s the faux beau, and she confuses his genuine interest for part of the act.

Review of The Gay Divorcee

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing in The Gay Divorcee
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing in The Gay Divorcee

In short, The Gay Divorcee is an excellent example of the Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers romantic comedy. It’s fun, fast-paced, with wonderful musical numbers and great interactions among the cast. As much as I love the musical numbers, it’s the interaction among the cast that’s the best part of the film. For some examples, check out the funny movie quotes from The Gay Divorcee. In short, it’s highly recommended!

Cast of characters

  • Guy Holden (Fred Astaire, Follow the Fleet, Easter Parade). The young dancer, who first becomes infatuated with, and then falls in love with:
  • Mimi Glossop (Ginger Rogers, Roxie Hart, Shall We Dance). The unhappily-married young woman who wants a divorce. She’s nice, sweet and kind. She’s traveling with:
  • Aunt Hortense (Alice Brady, Joy of Living, Young Mr. Lincoln). Mimi’s friend and advisor. A nice, funny lady. She’s married to:
  • Egbert Fitzgerald (Edward Everett Horton, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Her Husband’s Affairs). A “stuffed shirt” — but likable fellow. He’s Guy’s best friend, Hortense’s husband, and Ginger’s lawyer. He contrives a fake affair between Mimi & Tonetti to give cause for divorce.
  • Rodolfo Tonetti (Erik Rhodes, Top Hat). A professional divorce reason. Literally, he rents himself out to look like a young woman’s … cause for divorce. But in fact, he’s a happily married man, and a nice enough fellow.
  • Cyril Glossop (William Austin, Batman (1943), It (1927)). Mimi’s estranged husband. He doesn’t want to divorce her to keep up appearances. Until something’s unwittingly said by:
  • The Waiter (Eric Blore, Top Hat, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad). A comedy figure, whose interactions with Edward Everett Horton are one of the highlights of the movie. And a man with an interest in rocks …
  • Betty Grable (Follow the Fleet, Week-end in Havana). Yes, that Betty Grable. She’s featured in the Let’s K-nock K-nees musical number.

Songs in The Gay Divorcee

  • Don’t Let It Bother You (1934) Music and Lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel, Dance performed by Fred Astaire
  • A Needle In a Haystack (1934) Music and Lyrics by Con Conrad and Herb Magidson, Song and dance performed by Fred Astaire
  • Let’s K-nock K-nees (1931) Music and Lyrics by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel, Song performed by Betty Grable and Edward Everett Horton, Dance performed by Betty Grable, Edward Everett Horton, chorus
  • Night and Day (1932) Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter, Song and dance performed by Fred Astaire , Ginger Rogers
  • The Continental (1934) Music and Lyrics by Con Conrad and Herb Magidson, Song performed by Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Erik Rhodes, Lillian Miles

Editorial review of The Gay Divorcee courtesy of Amazon.com

The Gay Divorcee (1934) is their best early picture, a loose adaptation of Astaire’s stage show, ‘The Gay Divorce.’ The only song retained for the movie is Cole Porter’s smash hit “Night and Day,” which is the setting for a sublime pas de deux between Fred and Ginger. The closer is the sprawling 17-minute ensemble number “The Continental.”