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The Gay Divorcee

(1934 b 105')

En: 7 Ed: 6

A dancer falls in love with a woman who is trying to arrange cause for a divorce in this musical that features dancing "The Continental."

Censors insisted the title of the play The Gay Divorce be adjusted. In a Paris nightclub Egbert Fitzgerald (Edward Everett Horton) and Guy Holden (Fred Astaire) find they have no money, so Guy dances to prove who he is. They arrive in London, where Mimi Glossop (Ginger Rogers) greets her Aunt Hortense (Alice Brady) but gets her dress caught in her trunk. Guy rips her dress and gives her his coat. Mimi won't give him her address, and he sings "It's Like Looking for a Needle in a Haystack." He runs into her car and then chases it until he corners her with "Road Closed" sign. Guy offers Mimi a drink or marriage and gives her his phone number.

Hortense and Mimi call on lawyer Egbert to help Mimi get a divorce from her absent husband, a geologist. A rendezvous is arranged at a seaside resort in Brighton. An 18-year-old (Betty Grable) sings and dances "Let's Knock Knees" with Egbert. Guy tells Egbert, "Chance is the fool's name for fate." Egbert makes this the password for the adultery correspondent, Rodolfo Tonetti (Erik Rhodes). Guy sees Mimi, sings "Night and Day," and dances with her. Mimi thinks Guy is the correspondent and tells him to come to her room at midnight.

Guy tells Mimi he is shocked, but she keeps her distance. Tonetti approaches women talking of foolish fate and chance. Guy tells Mimi his work pleases hundreds, but she is relieved to learn he is a dancer. Egbert sends Tonetti to Mimi's room and goes looking for a detective, accompanied by Hortense. Tonetti tells Mimi, "Chances are fate is foolish." She tells Guy she is married and that Tonetti is there to help her get it. Guy tells Tonetti he is replacing him and refuses to leave. Mimi sings "The Continental," and the dancing goes on for about twenty minutes.

In the morning Guy and Tonetti wake up on a chair and a couch with a belt connecting their ankles. Mimi ordered breakfast for three. The waiter (Eric Blore) keeps coming and going talking about geology and the geologist Dr. Brown. Finally the husband arrives and laughs at the paid correspondent. Mimi says she wants a divorce so she can marry Guy, but the husband says he is going to forgive her. However, the waiter identifies him as the Dr. Brown who has another wife. Egbert and Hortense announce they got married the night before, and Guy and Mimi dance around the room.

Music, dancing, and comedy helped Depression audiences forget their troubles and feel good in this satire of the legal requirements some must go through to get divorced.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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