The Barkleys of Broadway
d. Charles Walters / USA / 1949 / 109 mins
Viewed on: Turner Classic Movies (UK)
I said a wee while back that Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films, as a rule, don’t tend to get me thinking. I was obviously lying, however, since The Barkleys of Broadway did make me think. A lot. Although I wasn’t thinking so much about its crude song and dance representations of occupations or nationalities, or about how to best read its underlying ideological viewpoint. Nope, it was much less complicated than that: The Barkelys of Broadway simply got me to thinking about what happens when great entertainment double-acts go their separate ways.
Of course, this being the first Fred and Ginger outing for a whole ten years (and the only in colour), it’s more than a little ironic that such a reunion should have taken place on a picture that sees a song and dance duo fall apart. You might be forgiven for assuming that this was a knowing ploy by Arthur Freed and his band of MGM producers, a kind of nod-and-wink to Hollywood history and the turbulent relationship of Fred and Ginger, but in reality, it was something very different.