Marital Misgivings for Astaire and Rogers
"Shall We Dance" was the 7th Fred & Ginger collaboration and to be honest by this point in their movies together you pretty much know exactly what you are going to get. As such we have a very slim storyline which mixes comedy and romance plus some confusion and of course singing and dancing. There are also a few familiar faces returning with both Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore showing up in stereotypical roles. But the thing about "Shall We Dance" it is still entertaining thanks to the chemistry of Fred & Ginger, their singing and dancing plus an enjoyable George & Ira Gershwin score.
Ballet star Petrov (Fred Astaire - Swing Time) has always wanted to not only dance with but also marry musical star Linda Keene (Ginger Rogers - Follow the Fleet) and so when he discovers that she is going to be crossing the Atlantic on the Queen Anne arranges to be travelling on the same liner as her. But first he has a little issue with Lady Denise Tarrington (Ketti Gallian) who has taken a shine to him, so his friend and manager Jeffrey Baird (Edward Everett Horton) tells Denise that Petrov is married to get rid of her. But that white lie comes back to haunt everyone as gossip spreads and before they know it everyone believes that Petrov and Linda are married having spent time together aboard the boat.
Whilst every Fred & Ginger had it's slight difference it often feels like if you've seen one you've seen them all because the storylines were often quite alike and quite slim. And so when it comes to "Shall We Dance" you have a storyline which is slim and sort of built around very typical ideas. You get the romance bit as Petrov attempts to woo Linda and this leads into a bit of confusion as a little lie leads to rumours about them being married. Next follows the blossoming friendship going wrong before you get, well I won't say but in all honesty you can guess how this will all end up.
But none of this matters one iota because you don't really watch "Shall We Dance" to be entertained by an original story, but for the singing and dancing and as such it's certainly not a let down. What is nice is with Fred Astaire playing Petrov the famous ballet dancer you get a blend of styles and watching Fred do a bit of ballet before slipping into a tap routine is simply good fun. And of course watching Fred & Ginger dance together is always good fun as well as often simply beautiful. I would say that it is more fun than romantic dancing going on here and whilst they are brilliant in all the routines the most spectacular is watching Fred & Ginger dance to Gershwin's "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" whilst on roller skates, a simply stunning scene.
Aside from Fred & Ginger there are a few familiar faces with Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore returning in similar roles to that they played in previous movies and in doing so adding to the comedy. Plus Jerome Cowan and William Brisbane also add to the humour with minor roles.
But the thing about "Shall We Dance" is that to be honest it is so familiar that it is a little disappointing. With the exception of the Gershwin soundtrack and a couple of clever scenes which on top of the roller skating scene there is an amusing dog walking scene which works like an old silent comedy there ends up little else that memorable.
What this all boils down to is that whilst enjoyable "Shall We Dance" is also very typical of a Fred & Ginger movie with little to make it that memorable. It's not bad by any means but from the similar and slim storyline to the various moments of humour it is no different to what we've seen Fred & Ginger do in their previous movies and whilst they are excellent at doing it familiarity is starting to become a little disappointing.