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I've gotta rebut what Holdjerhorses said...
cnb6 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, one user comment from last year interprets "Carefree" as mean-spirited and finds it characterized mostly by low spots. Just goes to show how different perceptions can be. While I'm the first to admit that this isn't the most musically strong of the Astaire-Rogers pix, and that Tony Flagg (Fred Astaire) does seem misogynistic at first, I find a lot to enjoy in this movie.

What seems like Tony's ugly attitude toward women (in the remark Amanda hears on the Dictaphone recording) can partly be explained by a scene from the original shooting script that did not end up in the picture. In that, Dr. Flagg is visited by a vain and annoying female patient who severely tries his... well, patience. The deletion of that bit does make his attitude toward women seem harsher. In the movie as shot, until Amanda hears him assuming that SHE is "another maladjusted female," she actually is amused by what he says about the patient. The Astaire character's behavior throughout the rest of the movie does not support the idea that he is misogynistic, but I agree that some of the dialogue makes him seem so initially.

To read Ginger Rogers' character as having been "weakened" and "drugged" by Astaire's is to take this comedy too seriously. It was one of Rogers' favorite roles of their series together, because she got a chance to shine in a screwball role. And I think Ralph Bellamy, Jack Carson and Luella Gear offer good, if not sparkling, support here. The reason we seldom see Gear in the movies is that she did most of her performing on Broadway; she had appeared with Astaire before in "Gay Divorce" (in the Hortense role that Alice Brady played in the movie version).

I've shown Astaire's golf solo to many a golfer friend, and they never fail to be impressed. Maybe it isn't Astaire's most memorable dance sequence, but the fact that he hits such beautiful shots (he was a lifelong golfer with a score in the low 70s) while doing his impeccable tapping is worthy of admiration.

Amanda's dream dance ("I Used to Be Color Blind") is not something her doctor has forced upon her; maybe he can suggest her dinner selections, but he can't control the content of the dream! She's dreaming about him because he apologized (sorta) for his callousness during their bike ride, and they became friends during the dinner dance that evening. She began to find herself attracted to him. It's a gorgeous dance, filmed in slow motion and definitely showing off how beautiful and graceful Ginger Rogers is. I don't interpret their kiss to mean that she is "submitting" to anything--as a matter of fact, she initiates the clinch as she comes up from that deep backbend (as one writer puts it, it's her dream, after all).

Although I agree that "The Yam" is not a great song (the tune worked better as "Any Bonds Today?"), I'd rather watch the accompanying dance number than "The Piccolino" or the long sequences of chorus kids in "The Continental." Not that the signature steps are that attractive, but once The Yam gains momentum and wanders all over the country club, it's a blast. And I love the big finish, when Astaire props one leg on a series of tables and repeatedly swings Ginger over it (her idea, she said in her autobiography).

Now, about the hypnosis dance, to "Change Partners." Tony's attempts to medicate and hypnotize Amanda have had comic consequences (if they hadn't, there wouldn't be a screwball comedy), but there are two crucial differences when you come to this romantic dance: It isn't intended to be humorous, and what he is now trying to do essentially is UN-hypnotize her so that she is thinking for herself again.

I'll admit there is a submissiveness about her in the dance and that he is acting as a masculine force (and yes, Holdjerhorses, Astaire definitely had a strong masculine presence, non-macho though he was), but if ever there was a good cause, this is it. I find the number intensely sexy--he is mesmerizing her not because he wants to control her, per se, but because he loves her so much that he wants to get the "real" Amanda back. I also think it is significant that Tony cannot knock out Amanda, even for her own good. Far from a cop-out on the part of the writers, this was intentional and in character with the decidedly non-misogynistic character Tony has proved himself to be in all but the first couple of scenes of the movie.

The whole business about lovers hitting each other and getting black eyes is a staple of romantic comedy of the thirties, and it is NOT intended to be interpreted as serious approval of domestic violence. It is a comedy convention that represents the verbal conflict of relationships, mixed with good old-fashioned slapstick.

Finally, a last argument in favor of "Carefree:" despite the fact that this is a madcap comedy, there are some lovely, touching straight scenes in it that show just how strong Astaire and Rogers both were in the acting department. The scene during which she confesses to him on the dance floor that she loves him instead of Steve; and the one in his office, in which he gets her to admit that she dreamed about him, and she responds with grief when he tells her that he doesn't love her, are surprisingly moving, as is his dawning suspicion that he IS in love with her.

As wonderful as "The Gay Divorcée" and "Top Hat" are, it is moments like these, along with some of the dialogue in "Swing Time," that really show how multi-talented and underrated as actors these two musical performers were--yes, Fred as well as Oscar-winner-to-be Ginger.
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Go Into Your Trance
lugonian25 October 2002
CAREFREE (RKO Radio, 1938), directed by Mark Sandrich, a screwball comedy set to music, reunites the song and dance team of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for the eighth time in a sort of welcome change from their previous efforts: Astaire plays a doctor, psychiatrist by profession, rather than his usual lovesick American dancer, although the doctor in question DOES have a talent for dancing. Rogers, breaking away from sophisticated humor, makes her mark in broader comedy. She's been funny before, usually sassy with nifty comebacks, but this time in the dizzy-dame mode, but fortunately, not to the extreme.

The plot focuses on Stephen Arden (Ralph Bellamy), a witless attorney. He becomes drunk after his engagement to popular radio star, Amanda Cooper (Ginger Rogers), has been broken for the third time and stumbles to the Medical Foundation building to ask his good friend, Dr. Tony Flagg (Fred Astaire), a psychiatrist assisted by his white coated Connors (Jack Carson), to have Amanda "what's 'er name" analyzed. While waiting in his office, Amanda, accidentally stumbles upon Flagg's phonograph record, listening to a diagnosis about his last patient, closing with his comment about his next patient, Miss Cooper, being a "maladjusted woman." Upset, Amanda turns the tables around by sitting behind his desk and the doctor uncomfortably on the other end in a question and answer session. While bicycling in the park with Steven and her Aunt Cora (Luella Gaer), Amanda and Tony meet again, coming come to friendly terms. Agreeing to Tony's treatments, Amanda goes through a dinner special diet (lobster with mayonnaise and buttermilk) so to have her dreams analyzed, and hypnotism that turns to disaster when roaming the streets in a trance.

With plenty of comedy written into the screenplay, it's a wonder how dance numbers could fit into an overall "screwball" comedy, especially with a score by Irving Berlin. This is where CAREFREE stands apart from the other Astaire and Rogers films. The first number, "Since They Turned 'Loch Lamond' Into Swing" finds Astaire at a golf course accomplishing several things at the same time by playing the harmonica and tap dancing to a Scottish underscoring while teeing off several golf balls in rhythm, all to perfection without once missing his mark. There is no vocal to this number. "I Used to Be Color Blind" is very interesting mainly because it takes part as Rogers' dream dance, with Astaire, singing and dancing in slow motion. While "The Yam" sung by Ginger Rogers at the country club, is an upbeat number, followed by dancing with Astaire on wooden floors rather than the traditional glossy ones. It didn't become a memorable duet as "The Carioca," "The Continental" or "The Piccolino," but unlike these earlier dance numbers, which Fred and Ginger are the main focus, they invite dinner guests to join in with them. The final number, "Change Partners," a more appropriate title than "Carefree," is a beautiful love dance, or trance dance, where the hypnotized Rogers dances in a motionless manner with Astaire. While "Change Partners" is in slower tempo, it's one of the film's most memorable tune, it not, their most sentimental dance sequences. "Change Partners" earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Song.

Luella Gear, as Rogers' matron aunt, Cora, comes across as a middle-aged Kay Francis but speaking like Helen Broderick. Gear, in her movie debut, had very few films to her credit. She's reportedly best known for her role as Aunt Hortence in the stage version of THE GAY DIVORCE (1932) that starred Astaire. Ralph Bellamy, who by this time was usually type-cast as stuffy suitors, happens to be the most masculine of Rogers' rejected beaus thus far. His character, however, becomes very unlikable towards the second half, bogging down the story.

Rounding out the cast in smaller roles are Franklin Pangborn (Roland Hunter); and Hattie McDaniel (Hattie, the maid); and Kay Sutton (Miss Adams). Clarence Kolb takes support as the no-nonsense Judge Joe Travers, Stephen's friend who pleasure himself by telling corny jokes. Although credited, the Robert B. Mitchell and the St. Brendan's Boy Choir seem to have become victims of the editing process consider how they're nowhere to be seen, only heard on the soundtrack singing "Change Partners" near the film's close.

In spite of numerous pros and cons, CAREFREE ranks the team's most underrated film as shortest (83 minutes). It's occasionally funny in spots with imaginable, if not too successful, dance numbers. Other than CAREFREE being available on video cassette and DVD, and formerly found on American Movie Classics prior to 2001, it turns up occasionally (with close casting credits restored) on Turner Classic Movies. Next in the Astaire and Rogers series, THE STORY OF VERNON AND IRENE CASTLE (1939). (***)
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It's The Yam for me.
ptb-83 April 2004
Hilarious and very stylish, this spellbinding art moderne musical is a real experiment in RKO craftsmanship. Did you know the dream sequences to the song "I used to be color blind" were originally filmed in color but the release abandoned because RKO couldn't get the tech specs right and the cost was going to be too high for the budget already set. It was a great idea and today might have made CAREFREE a more enduring success as there is no color footage of them as a dancing pair until 1949 at MGM.. Apart from the snazzy look of the art direction, Ginger's fantastic 'hearts and arrows' outfit and big black bewitching hat and the RKO world of the stone and timber country club, the music here is just terrific. The swing antics of the golf club bagpipe sequence had one audience I saw it with in rapturous applause. But I defy anyone to stay seated during THE YAM as they wing and swing their way all over the BIG SET Country club. CAREFREE is just great.
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Delightfully Naive and Adorable Classic
claudio_carvalho23 October 2011
The upper-class Stephen Arden (Ralph Bellamy) brings his fiancée, the radio singer Amanda Cooper (Ginger Rogers), to be consulted by his friend, the psychoanalyst Dr. Tony Flagg (Fred Astaire), to improve their relationship. Amanda listens to the record made by Dr. Flagg about her and has an initial friction with the shrink. But sooner she falls in love with him and discloses her feelings to Dr. Flagg. He decides to hypnotize Amanda to loath him and love Stephen. However his subconscious makes him perceive that he also loves Amanda. But Stephen obtains a restrain order against his friend and he can not get close to Amanda to withdrawal his former hypnotic suggestion.

"Carefree" is a delightfully naive and adorable classic, with a silly story but wonderful dance numbers of the constant pair Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Ginger "steals" the film not only dancing, but also with a funny performance. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Dance Comigo" ("Dance with Me")
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ha ha
evermore30019 June 2000
this is one of my favorite fred astaire/ginger rogers films. it's highly amusing how she toys with him at the beginning of the film, and then once he begins hypnosis, they have one of the best dance scenes i've ever seen between them. as always, their magic together is astounding.
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Underrated Classic
heatmise8 June 2001
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers star in this delightful romantic musical comedy with a twist on the usual Fred and Ginger plot. Though odd and short in the musical number department, this teasing romantic romp features some of their best dancing and good humor to boot. Ginger Rogers is nothing short of stunning in this picture and Mr. Astaire's feet never touch the ground. Definitely their most underrated film.
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A little short on songs, but Astaire and Rogers are in top form
rastar33019 January 2005
The first Astaire-Rogers vehicle to actually lose money on first release ($68,000, a mere drop in the bucket, but still...) and there's a good reason why. Only four songs and dance numbers, including a solo for Fred. Nonetheless, although the accent definitely veers toward story rather than song, it's an interesting and amusing vehicle in which Ginger and Fred not only acquit themselves most ably (Ginger looks great in her Howard Greer costumes) but are supported by a first-rate group of players headed by old friends like eager Jack Carson and irascible Clarence Kolb plus a charming comedian in Luella Gear. Character spots are filled by well-known faces like Edward Gargan as the cop with the nightstick, Franklin Pangborn as a fussy little skeet judge, and Walter Kingsford in his customary role as a doctor. Director Mark Sandrich can be spotted as the golf caddy in the first shot at the country club with Fred and Finlayson.
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More Comedy Than Music in the Still-Delightful Eighth Astaire-Rogers Pairing
EUyeshima6 November 2006
In the eighth of ten screen appearances together, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were firmly established as Hollywood's leading dancing pair. What is interesting about this 1938 entry is that it feels less like a musical and more like a screwball farce with musical interludes composed by Irving Berlin. The other less tangible aspect is that one can sense the two were growing in different directions at this particular juncture. While Astaire is still his debonair, nimble-footed self and as immaculate a dancer as ever there was on screen (watch his golfing solo for proof), Rogers seems to find surer footing as a crack comedy actress this time around. That's not to say they don't create magic when they dance. Indeed they do, an especially wonderful treat captured crisply on the newly released DVD, but you can somehow feel the beginning of the end.

Credited to no less than seven writers, the nonsensical plot focuses on singer Amanda Cooper, a radio star who has broken off her engagement three times to Stephen Arden, a rich bon vivant who spends an inordinate amount of time at the country club. Concerned about her flightiness but convinced that she is the one for him, he consults with his psychiatrist friend, Dr. Tony Flagg. Upon Stephen's insistence, Amanda goes to see Tony, and things immediately start off on the wrong foot when she overhears some of Tony's insensitive remarks about women on a dictaphone. Amanda and Tony eventually bury the hatchet over an accident-prone bike ride and become friends. You can probably figure out the rest of the complications that occur.

Even though Astaire acquits himself well as Tony (a rare role where he is not a professional entertainer) and Ralph Bellamy gamely plays yet another third-wheel role as Stephen, it is really Rogers who dominates the comedy scenes with her sharp timing and spirited manner. Moreover, the dance numbers don't disappoint with a lovely dream sequence set to "(I Used to Be) Colorblind" and a concluding romantic pas-de-deux cast under a hypnotic spell in "Change Partners". But my personal favorite is "The Yam", a jazzy, acrobatic number meant to replicate the late-thirties dance crazes. With Astaire bouncing Rogers on a series of cushiony chairs and then gracefully twirling her airborne over his table-affixed leg, this one may be my favorite of all their screen dances based on their sheer energy and athleticism.

For whatever reason, the supporting cast is not nearly as memorable as other Astaire-Rogers films at the time with Luella Gear looking a little too young as Amanda's Aunt Cora, Clarence Kolb as crabby Judge Travers and a young Jack Carson as Tony's helpful clinic assistant (doing a pretty decent Japanese accent over the phone). While the use of psychoanalysis must have been quite novel at the time, it feels rather clichéd now. Nonetheless, Astaire and Rogers still make magic regardless of the story contrivance. The 2006 DVD contains two vintage extras – a twenty-minute, tap dancing short called "Public Jitterbug #1" about an outlaw jitterbug dancer, and a brief cartoon, "September in the Rain", where famous icons displayed on packaged foods of the day come to life.
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Uneven, but fun
gapeach171 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
"Carefree" is one of Fred and Ginger's more underrated films, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's not their best effort, either. Ginger is the star of the show for a change, and she also pursues Fred before he pursues her. Ginger is Amanda, a radio singer (talk about outdated!!) and Fred is Tony, a cynical and unromantic shrink(very un-Fred like). Amanda's fiance Steve (played by a VERY young Ralph Bellamy, whom you've seen in "Trading Places" and "Pretty Woman") sends Amanda to Tony because she's indecisive about marrying him (feminists will probably hate this movie). After some offbeat circumstances, Amanda falls for Tony, but neither he or Steve will have any of it. I'll stop there because there are spoilers up the wazoo. "Carefree" does have some stuff going for it; for instance, Ginger makes a terrific fool of herself (which used to be Fred's job), and there's a magnificent dance that takes place in a dream sequence. "I Used to be Color Blind" is shot in perfect slow motion and both Ginger and Fred defy gravity. No special effects needed. One of the problems with the movie is include the hard to swallow romance between G&F. True, their films are never probable, but come on. Still, it's a great guilty pleasure, and "Color Blind", "The Yam" (the song's lame, but the dance is priceless), and the elegant "Change Partners" are great fun to watch. Catch it on TCM on a rainy day.
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Messing With Her Mind
bkoganbing18 December 2007
Carefree marked the third collaboration of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers singing and dancing to an Irving Berlin score. Unfortunately it would prove to be the weakest of the films, the others being Top Hat and Follow The Fleet. One thing was that Irving Berlin wrote a lot less music for this than the other two.

The second thing was that it involved psychiatry and we'd have to wait for such musicals as Lady in the Dark and On A Clear Day before the subject was handled in any way responsibly.

I'm not sure the subject was the proper one for Astaire and Rogers. The plot has Rogers seeing Astaire professionally while she's engaged to Ralph Bellamy who is playing the typical Ralph Bellamy part. I guess because it's Ralph Bellamy liberties can be taken with the leading lady by a her psychiatrist.

It was a bit much to swallow, a man who gave up studying the dance to become a disciple of Sigmund Freud. But that's what Fred Astaire is in Carefree. Usually the two don't mix. I can't imagine Freud breaking out into an intricate Astaire dance routine.

I will say that Irving Berlin did give Fred and Ginger some good songs to sing and dance to. The print I have is totally black and white and the I Used To Be Color Blind dream sequence definitely loses something when not seen in color. Fred and Ginger are at their liveliest doing The Yam and the rest of the cast gets involved. In fact I was surprised at how nimble Clarence Kolb was on his feet.

Fred's plaintive plea for Ginger to Change Partners got an Oscar nomination for Best Song, but it lost to Bob Hope's perennial theme of Thanks for the Memory.

I could not quite enjoy Carefree as much I have other Astaire/Rogers collaborations. When you think about, Fred's using his professional training to mess with her mind. His heart may be in the right place, but his medical ethics stink.
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Freud & Ginger
mmallon426 May 2015
On my first viewing of Carefree, I experienced something I never thought I would with Fred and Ginger, boredom. Initially I was expecting another spectacular musical showcase, however, the film is on a smaller scale (their shortest at only 80 minutes) than their previous outings and only contains a mere four musical numbers; making it more of a comedy with some singing and dancing than a full-fledged musical. With several movies behind them following a similar formula, if they were going to make another then they had to do something different or things would have become stale. I wished though that Fred Astaire could have done straight comedies during his career; Carefree is the closest thing to that.

None of the musical numbers in Carefree stand out as being among the best in the series. Fred Astaire's number in which he plays golf while tap dancing sounds better on paper than it does in execution. I'm sure what he's doing is no easy task yet it doesn't look all that impressive to watch. The Yam, on the other hand, is a pretty standard number, but heck, it's still Fred and Ginger dancing. I find the film's most interest musical number is 'I Used to be Color Blind', the most experimental in the film, shot in slow motion and allowing the viewer to see Fred and Ginger's grace in every detail.

For the only time in the series, Astaire plays a character who is not a dancer by profession, but rather a psychiatrist (although they do make sure to mention he once had aspirations of becoming a dancer). I don't completely buy Astaire as a psychiatrist, but realism is not what these movies are about. Plus I'm sure the psychology on display here is of the "you are getting sleepy" variety as seen in movies. He doesn't break his professional ethics though by pursuing his patient like his stalkerish attitude towards Ginger in other films in the series, instead, she wants him.

Carefree belongs to Ginger, playing a character whom has been put under hypnosis, giving her the opportunity to completely goof around in a childlike manner with big wide eyes, and it's pretty funny stuff. How many movies do you get to see Ginger Rogers wielding a shotgun? Everyone needs at least one movie where they get to act stupid. The comedic assets of Ralph Bellamy and Jack Carson are big benefits to the film's witty dialogue, where much of the film's strength lies. Even if the dance numbers don't fully exceed, as a screwball comedy, Carefree grows on me, of course, I am a sucker for these movies and the Astaire/Rodgers name, so good enough for me!
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Screwball fun
atlasmb14 April 2013
RKO lured Astaire and Rogers into their eighth pairing by promising this film would be in color. But RKO was not faring well financially, so they reneged on their promise, and the final film was black and white. Note the song where Fred sings about Ginger's red cheeks, gold hair, and blue eyes.

The story is silly but enjoyable. The antics of Ginger are captivating. Her character, with its cute ha-ha-ha laugh, is permitted whimsy and orneriness that are funny and endearing. Her performance gives the film a high energy that elevates it. Fred, always the master of props, incorporates golfing into one amazing solo dance routine.

I think the music and the dancing are under-appreciated. The dance sequence that employs slow motion is mesmerizing and beautiful. It actually emphasizes the beauty of their movements and permits the viewer to better see the precise and athletic lines they achieve.

A special mention about the dance number "The Yam". It might seem frivolous at first, but pay attention to the original dance moves within the performance. And have you ever seen a dance number where it looked like the performers were having more fun?

The other actors are fine foils for Astaire and Rogers. In particular, note Jack Carson. He and Ginger both appeared in 1937's "Stage Door".
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Why Cut Corners With Astaire and Rogers????
JasonLeeSmith14 September 2007
If you attempt to look at the plot carefully (never a good idea in a musical) this is a rather repellent movie. The practice of Psychotherapy wasn't as well known or as well respected as it is today, and the film was clearly written by someone who seemed to think of it as some fad medical cure indulged in mainly by rich and foolish women. As such we get to see Fred Astaire, the therapist, subjecting Ginger Rogers, the patient, to all manner of barbaric (to modern eyes) treatments in order to find out why she won't marry his best friend. Eventually Astaire uses hypnosis to force her to marry him, and then force him not to. Clearly, movie doctors were not subjected to as severe a code of ethics as are real ones.

Its a pretty typical outing for Astaire and Rogers. Astaire's dancing is extraordinary (the dance scene on the golf course is great, as is the one where he dances with a hypnotized Rogers). Rogers' comic timing is, as always, wonderful. The secondary characters are all two-dimension cut-outs, but they're entertaining ones. If the characters didn't have quite the same sparkle to their interplay, remember, this was Astaire and Rogers' eighth film together and artistic differences were beginning to create a strain.

My biggest issue with this movie was the scene in which they sing the song "I Used To Be Colorblind". This was dream sequence, and it lasted about five minutes. "Carefree" is a black and white movie and the intent originally was to film the dream sequence in color a'la "Wizard of Oz". Apparently, somewhere in the production process, people balked at the cost and it was produced in black and white along with the rest of the film. Being filmed in black and white makes the song, and the entire sequence makes not one lick of sense, because the song is about how crisp and clear the world seems in color. Not only that, but since it was designed to be viewed on color film, not in black and white, the sets weren't designed with that same high degree of contrasts they would have if they had been designed to be viewed in black and white. As such, things in the dream sequence are LESS clear than in the rest of the movie, not more. I'm just appalled that the studio could spring for a few minutes of color footage for a film with such proved money-makes as Astaire and Rogers.
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oh, the carefree times of hollywood
postmanwhoalwaysringstwice14 February 2003
there is something specific about watching fred astaire and ginger rogers that just makes you want to dance. i think it's because they make it look so damn fun. and they are just so astonishingly good!! the plot here is a tad crazier than, say "top hat", and therefore that much less believable (come on ... going all out with freud and hypnosis, but then again that's just speaking from what is known today, so no problem letting that pass). irving berlin's music is a hoot at times (there's a song about yams) and classic and familiar at others ("change partners") and ginger rogers is nearly at her sassy best.
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Not Their Best But Better Than Most Musicals: Yam-O-Rama!
museumofdave1 March 2013
Let it be said that I am a great fan of the RKO Astaire-Rogers musicals; that established, I also feel this is easily the weakest of the lot, for all kinds of reasons--and the script and the music itself are two of the drawbacks in a comedy that seems dreadfully drawn-out in spite of the fact that at 83 minutes, its the shortest film in the series; the plot a largely somewhat dull run-around concerning psychoanalysis. With two of the worlds most brilliant dancers, however, there are bound to be high spots and worth waiting for is The Yam, an incredibly choreographed, traveling dance routine that takes both stars through drawing rooms and patios, and ends with some of the most spectacular lifts Astaire ever managed, Rogers in the air and all smiles. It's fun to see Jack Carson in his first major film part, and little-known Luella Gear gets off a few off-color zingers. Ralph Bellamy is his usual respectable bore, and the final song Change Partners is a perfect classic of feeling matched perfectly with ensuing action. Not a stinker by any means, but for both stars, not one of their best.
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Ginger proves her comic timing was among the best...
Doylenf31 December 2007
I don't know why so many of the reviewers here have taken such a strong dislike to CAREFREE simply because they take the characters too seriously. Sure, FRED ASTAIRE doesn't show the most ethical side of a therapist but, hey, we know this is a Fred and Ginger movie, and isn't it a nice change of pace to have him playing a professional for a change, even if he is a cad?

And how can anyone fault GINGER ROGERS for being goofy when this is a screwball comedy that gives her a chance to demonstrate what she could do with physical comedy--such as her uninhibited way with breaking glass while under hypnosis? It's all done in good-natured style, with the usual "other man" role for RALPH BELLAMY as the guy who never has a chance of getting the girl. Although "Change Partners" is clearly the best Irving Berlin song in the whole show, it definitely needed better showcasing than it gets here. It comes across as a weak, throwaway number as performed in the film.

JACK Carson has a brief comic assignment that he handles deftly, but the film puts the spotlight on Ginger's comic abilities and it's she who has the meatiest role. Astaire, when dancing with or without Ginger, is at his usual peak of perfection, particularly in the golf course number.

Summing up: Highly enjoyable, if not among the best of the pair's best films.
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Not what you expect from Astaire & Rogers but very good
utgard1411 January 2015
Psychiatrist Fred Astaire is asked by friend Ralph Bellamy to speak with Bellamy's fiancée Ginger Rogers. Ginger seems to have cold feet about their wedding and Ralph wants Fred to somehow help her overcome her issues and marry him. Things get out of control thanks to drugs, dreams, and hypnosis. Ginger falls for Fred but Fred thinks it isn't real so he hypnotizes her into thinking she loves Ralph. Then Fred realizes he loves her and it's screwball comedy greatness from then on.

An atypical Fred & Ginger movie but one of my favorites. More comedy than musical but it's very light and fun. Ginger is adorable and hilarious here. Love her repeated "ha ha ha" bit. You have to hear her delivery to get it. Fred's good as usual, though his character is the worst psychiatrist ever. While the hypnotism stuff is way out there, it does lead to a wonderful dance number at the end where the duo move like Ginger is under a trance. There are no real classics in the musical numbers but they're all pleasant and enjoyable. "The Yam" is lots of fun and probably the highlight. The supporting cast is terrific. Stage actress Luella Gear shines as Ginger's friend. Her first scene with Jack Carson is a hoot. Another movie where Ralph Bellamy doesn't get the girl. Poor guy. It's a great movie but it might not appeal to all Fred & Ginger fans for the fact that it's light on musical numbers (there's only four). Try to keep an open mind and give it a shot.
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a weaker Fred and Ginger confection
didi-516 April 2004
Although Ginger Rogers is memorable in her role, this is a lukewarm romantic musical comedy which teams her again with Fred Astaire as patient and psychiatrist in another variation on the love triangle story. Rogers doesn't show any affection towards her fiancé (a one-note performance from Ralph Bellamy) so he asks Fred to hypnotise her and change her inclinations. Fred falls in love with her himself (naturally) and after that the story descends into a rather poor farce.

There are moments which are good – the ‘Change Partners' number, for one (although the Berlin score is pretty poor); the sequence with the golf balls – but they are few and far between. The movie creaks badly in places and certainly shows its age.
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Average Astaire/Rogers vehicle
zetes15 February 2004
I was absolutely sure that I had seen each of the RKO Astaire-Rogers pairings. Somehow Carefree slipped under my radar. I liked the concept, which has Astaire as a psychoanalyst trying to probe Ginger Rogers' mind to understand why she won't marry his friend and her longtime beau, Ralph Bellamy. Like pretty much every Hollywood film that utilizes psychoanalysis as a prop, it is treated as a joke and as if it were magic. At one point, during a dance, when Fred is trying to control Ginger, he wiggles his fingers like a sorcerer. It's all in good fun. Carefree comes off as overly sexist at times. Of course it was 1938, but it's hard not to wince at Astaire's guess that Rogers is a brainless ninny, even before he meets her. And, of course, Astaire can easily and completely control Rogers mind in whatever way he wants. Again, all in good fun; again, 1938. There are a couple of hilarious scenes where Ginger is hypnotized, or anesthesized. Carefree also develops some unexpected emotional depth from its situation. Rogers eventually falls for Astaire, but Astaire's best friend, Bellamy, still loves her. I guess it's kind of nice to have something like that, but it probably harms the film. The frivolity of a Top Hat comes off a lot better. `Carefree' the film really isnt! There aren't too many musical numbers, but we do get to see Astaire and Rogers dance in slow motion; `The Yam' is a cute song, and its dance number is the best in the movie; and `Change Partners' is the best song in the film. Irving Berlin wrote the music for this film.
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One of Fred and Ginger's weakest films but with plenty to enjoy
TheLittleSongbird4 August 2013
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were/are an iconic dance duo and hugely talented performers. Their ten films together did have silly stories but they had so much to compensate like the songs, choreography and dancing in particular. Carefree is one of their weakest- Top Hat, Swing Time, The Gay Divorcée, Shall We Dance and Follow the Fleet to me have always been better films- but that doesn't mean that there isn't anything to enjoy, because there definitely is. Excluding the story, which is silly and thin- as with Fred and Ginger's films you know that the story is never going to be the best asset- the faults lie with one song and some of the supporting cast. The Yam is not a memorable song at all and has some truly inane lyrics, though the dancing and choreography admittedly is delightful. The supporting cast don't bring the sparkle that Fred and Ginger bring to the lead roles, players like Eric Blore, Edward Everett Horton and even Erik Rhodes are missed. Ralph Bellamy is rather one-note and his character is never likable, while Luella Gear is ill-at-ease and saddled with some rather repetitive running comedy. The best of the supporting cast is Jack Carsen who is very good. The script mostly is warm-hearted and witty, if lacking the sophistication and charm of Top Hat and Swing Time. The costume and set design are wonderful, and the photography shimmers while not trying to do anything ambitious. The score fits the screwball-like nature of Carefree ideally, and apart from The Yam the songs are great with Changing Partners faring best. The choreography dazzles even in The Yam, though much more so in Changing Partners and the wonderfully surreal dream sequence as part of the song I Used to Be Colour Blind. What delights the most choreographically though is Fred Astaire's golfing routine. The dancing is athletic, poised and elegant, and the chemistry between Fred and Ginger is still strong. Astaire is his usual charming self getting more comfortable as the film progresses, while Rogers' elegant and effortlessly sassy performance is even more consistent. All in all, not a great film but a good one for the choreography, the songs(apart from one) and the dancing of Fred and Ginger. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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"Change partners"
Steffi_P31 March 2012
As with most movie franchises, the later Astaire-Rogers vehicles are repeated attempts to keep the formula fresh without losing the original magic. With its altered settings and characterisations, and an emphasis on comedy over music, Carefree was the biggest departure of the series thus far.

This was the first of these pictures in which the duo do not play the part of dancers, Fred being a psychiatrist and Ginger his patient. Psychoanalysis was then vogue-ish, and the idea of the female patient falling for the doctor was already something of a cliché. And yes, it is Ginger this time who goes chasing after a hard-to-get Fred. It shows a marked shift from the usual harassment-cum-romance which usually stood in for a love angle in these movies, something which was particularly odious and unnatural in the first proper Ginger and Fred movie, The Gay Divorcée. Having said that, the final image of Ginger going up the aisle with a black eye is rather sickening even though its context is more innocent than it appears.

Both Astaire and Rogers adapt competently to their new types and these are some very fine performances from them both. Astaire shows his finest dramatic nuances to date, and Rogers brings out a flair for comedy. The opportunities for dancing are sadly fewer here, but choreographer Hermes Pan has eschewed the increasing spectacle of the last few movies for numbers that are more intimate yet still inventive. Fred's golf routine is simply delightful, and the dream sequence for "I Used to Be Color Blind" is the one touch of classic Fred and Ginger beauty, with an elegant slow-motion segment that works surprisingly well. It's a pity the number wasn't shot in Technicolor as was originally intended – that would have made it even more special.

The very look of Carefree is different – gone are the Big White Sets and in their place are offices, studios and even the open countryside. This was the last Fred and Ginger movie handled by their most frequent director, Mark Sandrich. Sandrich's forte in these pictures was the smoothness with which he segued dialogue scenes into musical numbers, but the way the songs fit into the narrative here there's hardly any call for that. I am however very impressed with the tenderness he brings to the hypnosis scene.

Carefree was a decent attempt to reinvigorate a series that had more or less run its course. It's not a bad little movie on its own terms, but its just doesn't feel quite like a Fred and Ginger movie should. For example, the lack of any Edward Everett Horton or Eric Blore is glaring. There is a small part by a young (and surprisingly slim) Jack Carson, who is rather funny and seems slightly more in tune with this setting, but the point is, Fred Astaire was always magnificently in tune with Horton and Blore. It demonstrates perhaps, more than anything, that top hats, tails, swanky hotels and butlers were now outdated in the musical (as they certainly were in romantic comedy as a whole). Carefree is kind of a noble effort of a transition movie, but it isn't really anything more than that, and it doesn't represent any kind of mould that Fred or Ginger could now settle into.
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Plot Ridiculous, Fred and Ginger Splendid.
rmax3048231 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
By the time of this release, 1938, the studio was having trouble finding fresh stories for the dancing duo. They'd just tried putting Fred and Ginger into swabby uniforms in "Follow the Fleet." Here, Fred is back in his tux and Ginger in her ballroom gowns. The usual plot is reversed. Instead of his pursuing her, we have Fred as the initially disinterested psychiatrist and Ginger as the patient who experiences major transference. She pursues him until the end, when he begins to pursue her. The chief agent of confusion is hypnosis. It's all pretty silly. Of course the original plots were silly too but they were obviously meant to be throwaways, just excuses for the two to dance. In this case, it's a little embarrassing because one feels some effort went into constructing a semi-serious plot that turned, unwittingly, into the usual nonsense.

Nevertheless, the Irving Berlin songs are easy to listen to and the lyrics are sometimes clever. Fred is his usual affable self. Ginger Rogers is a peach in short shorts riding a bicycle. And there's certainly nothing wrong with the dancing. "The Yam" was one of those attempts to create a fictional new dance craze that was almost obligatory by now, following the Carioca and the Piccolino and whatnot. At any rate, the two of them seem to be having genuine fun during the up-tempo Yam. The last number, "Change Partners", is simple but exquisitely done.

If there's a problem with the film it's that there aren't in fact many musical numbers. That's okay in something like Fred's later "The Bandwagon" that has a reasonably good story line going for it, but it hurts this film.

It would be tempting to zip through the mindless plot and just watch the dances, set against Van Nest Polglase's blindingly blanched, Art Deco sets. Even the telephones are white. I always thought Polglase was an Italian with a funny first name but recently learned he was Welsh and had a drinking problem. Well, some of us do.
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Pretty dopey but still highly entertaining
MartinHafer16 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is so unlike the rest of the Astaire and Rogers films. Instead of the usual pacing and sophistication, this film is more screwball comedy than musical. In fact, the songs and dance numbers are all pretty forgettable and could have actually improved the movie had they been removed.

As a bit of background information, I was a psychotherapist and now teach psychology and history. So, I understood some of the now archaic treatments psychiatrist Astaire prescribed for Rogers and I was also horrified at the incredibly unethical behavior of this therapist. However, if you ignore all the reasons he SHOULD have had his license to practice revoked (there are just too many to mention in depth), then the film is a pretty funny jab at Analytic therapy. Although not exactly deep or sophisticated, I loved watching Ginger accidentally being taken from Astaire's office while she was under the influence of gas that Fred used to lower her resistance and inhibitions--and boy did it remove her inhibitions! Also, later when Fred tried hypnotizing her and she became a gun-toting maniac, it was a riot.

Oddly, this movie differs from other Astaire-Rogers films because it is Ginger who initially falls for Fred and she pursues him (it's usually the other way around). Regardless, the picture is highly entertaining and just plain fun.

PS--For you Ralph Bellamy fans out there, once again, Ralph loses the girl at the end of the picture. This is a pattern that would repeat itself again and again and again in his films of the 30s and 40s. It was such a cliché, that I find myself looking for his movies just so I can find ones where he actually DOES get the girl in the end of the picture (such as in BROTHER ORCHID).
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"Carefree?" Nasty . . .
Holdjerhorses6 September 2005
Everybody's entitled to make a mistake. Apparently, everybody who contributed anything to "Carefree" simultaneously decided this was their bad hair day.

First, the high spots. Ginger Rogers never looked lovelier. EQUALLY lovely, but never lovelier. Howard Greer's costumes, and especially those HATS, anticipated the '40s by a couple of years. One of her ensembles, featuring a large heart over her, um, "heart," pierced by arrows as she's being "treated" by her would-be paramour, Astaire, has to be seen to be believed. Why not just a subtitle reading: "This is the scene where her heart gets pierced by Love?" Nobody anywhere, on- or off-screen dressed like this before or since.

So much for the high spots.

It goes without saying that no Astaire-Rogers dance pairing can be BAD. But it serves no one to pretend these are great. They aren't. Irving Berlin's sole contribution worth mentioning is "Change Partners and Dance." Yet even THAT is badly staged by director Mark Sandrich, with whom Miss Rogers desperately wanted NOT to work.

As for Berlin's "The Yam," the less said the better. Astaire refused to sing the inane lyrics. So Rogers soloed them before joining Astaire in a dance-a-thon through the country club, joined by other members. It's rousing, within the film's context, but immediately forgotten (unlike, say, "The Carioca" from "Flying Down to Rio" years earlier.) "The Yam" failed to catch on as America's latest dance craze, for obvious reasons.

The only other memorable number is Astaire's solo on the golf course, dancing up a storm and whacking golf balls in perfect rhythm. Yet even THIS is hardly Astaire's most memorable dance sequence: the gimmick with the golf shots is more memorable than anything he does with his feet.

Yet it is perhaps the plot and script that are the most unattractive.

The entire story hinges on Astaire's psychiatrist's misogyny -- his pre-interview stereotyping of would-be patient Rogers as just another flighty (and worse) female. Rogers overhears the remark on a recording conveniently left for her to discover by the "writers" of the screenplay and is rightfully insulted. The psychiatrist's opinion of women patients and Rogers' "revenge" are supposed to be funny.

Jack Carter and Luella Gear (as Rogers' Aunt Cora) are also supposed to be funny. They're not. Carter, always an underrated actor (yet capable of terrific work in "Mildren Pierce" and "A Star Is Born" and "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof") is given nothing to do and impossible lines to do it with. Gear (did you ever hear of HER again? No.) is equally saddled with third-rate material. Her running gag, "Oh, Joe, sit down," is already stale the second time it's repeated. Much less the third, fourth or fifth. By the time it's reversed, at the end -- "Oh, Joe, stand up!" -- it merely serves to remind us how tiresome "Carefree" really is.

More disturbing is "Carefree's" truly ugly subtext. A psychiatrist who trivializes and belittles women (Astaire) grudgingly accepts his alcoholic best friend's (Ralph Bellamy, wasted in more ways than one) fiancée as a patient. She, the ambitious strong-willed radio star, immediately "weakens," of course, and falls hopelessly in love with her woman-hating psychiatrist. Naturally, this leads to a slow-motion dance sequence in which our ambitious heroine "submits" to her tuxedoed toe-twinkling sexist shrink.

Next, he knocks her out with drugs, in order to "make" her "tell the truth." Rogers gets to do her patented schtick of acting childish and ridiculous "under the influence" -- which she did better than anybody, most notably to perfection in 1952's "Monkey Business" with Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe.

But there's no getting around that she's been drugged by a woman-hating shrink who incompetently leaves her in a situation to escape -- life-threateningly -- into the streets.

Still not laughing? How about this? ANOTHER dance sequence, this time featuring the "hypnotized" submissive Rogers responding like a sensuous robot under Astaire's mesmerizing "hand gestures." A masculine force so powerful (Fred Astaire?) that all he need do is lift a finger to get his "woman" to do his bidding? She is completely at his mercy in this unsettling sequence. Particularly since Rogers, even supposedly "hypnotized," was always a stronger on screen presence than Astaire. ("He gave her class: she gave him sex," one wag is supposed to have said of the Astaire-Rogers collaboration. And it's true. It's also true that "sex" wins out over "class" every time, on film.)

But wait! There's more! Not guffawing over a man manipulating a "powerless" woman like a lifeless marionette to second-rate Irving Berlin?

How's THIS for a knockout finish? Let's really knock out the heroine -- to bring her out of her "trance," of course, and restore her senses by physically assaulting her and punching her in the face!

Yep. That's what happens. Of course, neither Astaire nor the "writers" could bring themselves to actually have Astaire deliver the punch. He gets cold feet literally at the last second and Ralph Bellamy "accidentally" delivers the fateful blow to Miss Rogers.

Whereupon Astaire and lovingly "submissive" Rogers head for the altar and their wedding vows with her sporting a "hilarious" black eye.

Hah, hah.

Even in the context of the mores of the times, "Carefree" is perhaps the meanest musical ever filmed. It is certainly one of the weakest.

Yet despite all that, there's no denying the magic of Astaire and Rogers when they dance -- even on a bad hair day.
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Underrated and excellent entertainment!
aceellaway201012 September 2016
This might be THE Ginger & Fred movie for people who are not huge great fans of the memorable team. The reason being is that there is a little more story than the earlier ones, and also because it is really quite Funny, Thanks in NO small amount to Ginger's performance. Often somewhat rudely underestimated in the partnership( And after all, she did everything Fred did ,but backwards and in heels, AND had to be Damn Pretty while she was doing it(even the kindest amongst us would find it difficult to make a great argument for Fred as being a "looker"). Fred is often given solo numbers in their films but here Ginger gets a good one "The Yam' which she performs with great style and wit. In fact Ginger dominates the film , and it is quite reasonable to point out that after the partnership ended it was Ginger who had the most initial success winning a Best Actress Oscar for "Kitty Foyle". But it is ginger's fun and very amusing performance that makes the film particularly watchable.
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