she liked Imaginary Men best of all

Say, that’s swell!

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I know I mentioned earlier in the summer that I Am Your Grandma but really I’ve had a little bit o’ granny in me for a long time. When I was a teenager I got into old movies and fell in love with Fred and Ginger movies. You know the ones – the romance, the dancing, the glamorous sets and stunning evening wear:

There was a famous quote that he gave her class and she gave him sex appeal (there’s an even better quote from Ann Richards: “…Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels!”) and these movies were made to lift spirits during the Depression. But they are timeless in that they lift spirits over 70 years later. Astaire and Rogers films never fail to put a smile on my face – there’s predictable plots (lots of mistaken identity and boy-meets-girl-girl-hates-boy scenarios) and of course a bit of sexism but they are still essentially escapist fantasies.

In these films women were dames and men tried not to be heels. People got sore at one another and “gosh!” was the harshest exclamation. Isn’t there something so refreshing about that sort of simplicity? Before movies became dark and complicated, filled with explosives, sex and violence – there were people who danced their cares away and expressed their feelings to a delightful melody:

“Long as I can be with you, it’s a lovely day” HOW PERFECT IS THAT??

Fred was always seducing with dance, Ginger was always reluctantly falling for him and they were surrounded by a cast of characters who either conspired with them, or against them, were romantic rivals or bumbling idiots (I need to take a moment to rant about Randolph Scott in Follow the Fleet because this guy was a dick, OK? Lantern-Jawed-All-American “Bilge” – yes – BILGE! first ignores Ginger’s sister Connie when she wears glasses and isn’t a looker. Then she gets all dolled up and suddenly he’s in love! But then he ships out after promising to return to her aaaaand romances other women when he’s away. Meanwhile Connie refurbishes her father’s boat so when Bilge returns as a Captain he can sail it after they’re married. HOWEVER stupid Bilge has other non-Connie related romantic interests UNTIL he hears about the boat and then he’s back calling her “baby” again and generally making me shake my fists at the screen. Annoying Boy Shit existed always.)

But enough about THAT. What matters is that Fred was never less than impeccably tailored and Ginger had dresses that flowed like they were made of magic threads and everybody went to nightclubs with little lamps on the tables and there was always a happy ending and I’m so glad this thing of beauty exists in the world:

And just once in my life I WISH I could leave a room like this!

(If you’d like any recommendations from Grandma – I suggest The Gay Divorcee or Top Hat which these clips are from and are Astaire and Rogers films at the very pinnacle of what made them perfect.)

 

Author: Amy H. Johnson

Amy H. Johnson is the author of The Fangirl Files a memoir about Boy Bands, TV Boyfriends and imaginary betrothals to 80s English pop stars. She prefers to be referred to as a "Cute Famous Boy Aficionado".

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