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One of the best Fred Astaire movies
on 4 June 2003
'Shall We Dance' is every bit as good as 'Top Hat' and 'Swing Time', and boasts a score by the amazing brothers George and Ira Gershwin. Astaire's determination to keep expanding his ideas is displayed in the 'Slap That Bass' number, where he uses the steam in the engine room of the ship on which much of the film is based to create an unusual cinematic texture. It's a shame that the song 'I've Got Beginner's Luck' was curtailed before the final edit, because the dance which one might expect does not take place; the same is true of the greatest song of all time, 'They Can't Take That Away from Me', which is nevertheless delivered with Astaire's usual elegance. 'Let's Call the Whole Thing Off' shows the dancers on roller skates in the middle of Central Park, in a brilliantly rhythmic number, and best of all is 'They All Laughed', perhaps their greatest routine of all time, showing a mixture of both the ballroom and tap styles in which Fred and Ginger were definitive. Brilliant.