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Top Hat

ISBN: 978-1-4051-8830-2
144 pages
September 2010, ©2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Top Hat (1405188308) cover image


Top Hat is the first volume to spotlight this classic Hollywood film, probing the musical genre, notions of romance and subjectivity, as well as the contested relations between the sexes.
  • Offers a detailed analysis of one of Hollywood's greatest musicals, including a comprehensive survey of the film's production, promotion and reception, all measured against the background of 1930s socio-political contexts in the USA
  • Explores the musical genre and questions of (gendered) national identity, romance, subjectivity and the notion of the couple
  • Written in a clear, accessible style, Top Hat probes text and context carefully to appeal to the student and teacher of the musical and of Hollywood film history, as well as the film-loving general reader
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Table of Contents

List of Figures vi

Synopsis vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1. The Making of Top Hat 6

2. Fred Astaire: "Outlaw" Stylist of the Dance 19

3. Ginger Rogers: Confirming and Defying Convention 26

4. Introduction to Narrative and Number: The Bumpy Road to Love 35

5. The Numbers 43

6. Querying National and Sexual Identity 85

Conclusion: A Perfectly Swell Romance 101

Notes 104

Bibliography 106

Index 114

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Author Information

Peter William Evans is a Professor of Film Studies, in the Department of Film Studies at Queen Mary University of London. His publications range from classical Hollywood (books on the musical, romantic comedy and the Biblical epic, and articles on film noir, the western and Hitchcock), British cinema (a book on Carol Reed) and Spanish cinema (books on Buñuel, Almodovar and Bigas Luna).
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"Its considerable claims to Art and its resonant magic are the dual focus of this insightful and highly readable study by Peter William Evans . . . Evans approaches this most celebratory of musical comedies in celebratory mode but also with a deserved seriousness devoid of solemnity." (Times Literary Supplement , 24 June 2011)


"Alert and attentive, always respecting the magic of this most magical of movies, Peter Evans nevertheless manages to show how exactly how it works, how its stars discreetly clash as they combine, and how a well-tried formula can turn into unforgettable art.  Good too that the admirable Eric Blore is celebrated, a comic dream of a supporting actor." Michael Wood, Princeton University

"Peter Evans has provided an exemplary account of Top Hat. Packed with information and information and insight, his book is as elegantly structured and presented as the film itself. An excellent addition to an excellent series." Steve Neale, University of Exeter

"An acknowledged authority on the musical, Peter Evans has written an illuminating, often brilliantly so, study of Top Hat. He presents hitherto unknown facts relating to the film’s production history, puts Astaire and Rogers’ star personas and the supporting cast under the spotlight, and provides superb analysis of narrative, song, and dance. Like Astaire and Rogers, the movie and the critic are perfectly matched." Peter Stanfield, University of Kent

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