Backwards and in High Heels: Ginger Rogers Centennial Retrospective
February 4 - April 7

July 16, 2011, will mark the centennial of one of Hollywood's greatest leading ladies, Ginger Rogers. Best known as one half of the most famous dancing duo in filmdom, Rogers enjoyed great success with her nondancing roles as well, many notable for their directors and costars, including THE MAJOR AND MINOR (directed by Billy Wilder), MONKEY BUSINESS (directed by Howard Hawks, costarring Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe), ROXIE HART (directed by William Wellman, based on the same source play as the hit musical CHICAGO), VIVACIOUS LADY (directed by George Stevens, costarring Jimmy Stewart) and KITTY FOYLE, for which she won the Best Actress Oscar. All ten of Rogers' films with Fred Astaire are featured in this series, showcasing the duo's dynamic dance artistry. Though many consider Astaire the single greatest dancing talent in film history, a punch line from the Bob Thaves' comic strip "Frank and Ernest" has become a much-quoted appeal for equal credit and equal rights: "Sure he was great, but don't forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did...backwards and in high heels."



FLYING DOWN TO RIO

In their first film pairing, Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire are supporting players (a singer and assistant bandleader, respectively) who provide musical entertainment and wiseacre commentary as their bandleader boss Gene Raymond pursues flirtatious South American beauty Dolores del Rio. Fred and Ginger light up the screen during their first dance together—with their foreheads touching—to the seductive sexed-up beat of the Oscar-nominated hit "Carioca." Billed as a freewheeling "romantic joy ride through the sky," this pre-Code travelogue charmer ends with an over-the-top number featuring women dancing on the wings of (flying!) planes.

DIR Thornton Freeland; SCR Erwin S. Gelsey, H.W. Hanemann, Cyril Hume, based on the play by Anne Caldwell and the story by Lou Brock. US, 1933, b&w, 89 min. NOT RATED

Fri, Feb 4, 5:30; Sun, Feb 6, 6:00; Mon, Feb 7, 5:30, 9:30

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

THE GAY DIVORCEE*

Despite Astaire's protestations against making another picture with Rogers (he'd been part of a famous dancing duo already, with his sister Adele, and was ready for a solo career), RKO knew a good thing when they saw one, and trumpeted their new stars as "The King and Queen of 'Carioca'" on posters for this follow-up the next year. The convoluted plot (a faked adultery scandal, a case of mistaken identity) just filled in the gaps between the musical numbers, notably Cole Porter's "Night and Day," and an extravagant 15-minute production set to Best Song Oscar winner "The Continental," in which five revolving glass doors are integral parts of the choreography.

DIR Mark Sandrich; SCR George Marion Jr., Dorothy Yost, Edward Kaufman, based on the musical "Gay Divorce" by Dwight Taylor; PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1934, b&w, 107 min. NOT RATED

Mon, Feb 7, 7:20; Wed, Feb 9, 9:00

* Also part of the Hollywood Modern: Film Design of the 1930s series

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

TOP HAT
#15 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Musicals

Fred Astaire is hard at work on some new dance steps in his hotel room. The racket disturbs Ginger Rogers in the room below, and when she charges upstairs to confront him, it's love at first fight. Though it features a record five dance numbers between the two, one of the real stars of this film is the original score, composed by Irving Berlin. Rogers insisted on wearing an elaborately feathered gown for their "Cheek to Cheek" dance, which Astaire hated (it shed profusely), and, in a rare instance, the two fought. A few days later, Rogers received a feather-shaped gold charm (and a new nickname), along with this apology note: "Dear Feathers, I love ya! Fred."

DIR Mark Sandrich; SCR Allan Scott, Dwight Taylor, based on the play by Sandor Faragó and Aladar Laszlo. PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1935, b&w, 101 min. NOT RATED

Sat, Feb 12, 4:45; Wed, Feb 16, 7:00

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

ROBERTA

In Paris, after a booked gig falls through, dance bandleader Astaire and friend Randolph Scott appeal to boutique shopgirl Irene Dunne for help. Imagine Astaire's surprise when he discovers the shop's imperious patron, "Countess Schwarenka," is none other than his own hometown sweetheart (Ginger Rogers), hiding behind a thick Polish accent. This and THE GAY DIVORCEE are the only two Rogers-Astaire films based on Broadway musicals, and ROBERTA features Jerome Kern's hits "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "I Won't Dance" and Best Song Oscar nominee "Lovely to Look At." Look for Lucille Ball—uncredited and platinum blonde—as a model in the fashion show!

DIR William A. Seiter; SCR Jane Murfin, Sam Mintz, Allan Scott, based on the musical by Jerome Kern and Otto A. Harbach, based on the novel "Gowns by Roberta" by Alice Duer Miller. US, 1935, b&w, 106 min. NOT RATED

Sat, Feb 19, 5:30; Sun, Feb 20, 6:30

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

FOLLOW THE FLEET

On shore leave in San Francisco, sailor Fred Astaire attempts to rekindle romance with his old flame and dancing partner, Ginger Rogers. Following hot on the heels of his hit score for TOP HAT, the great Irving Berlin, who claimed Astaire inspired him to do his greatest work, supplied the music and lyrics, featuring the hits "Let's Face the Music and Dance," "Let Yourself Go" and "I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket." Harriet Hilliard (who would go on to fame in THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET) makes her film debut as Rogers' sister, though she was made to wear a brunette wig lest she draw too much attention from Rogers, the film's star.

DIR Mark Sandrich; SCR Allan Scott, Dwight Taylor, based on the play "Shore Leave" by Hubert Osborne. PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1936, b&w, 110 min. NOT RATED

Sun, Feb 20, 4:15; Mon, Feb 21, 7:00

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

SWING TIME*
#90 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition

Rogers claimed this was her favorite of the ten films she made with Astaire. Here, he plays "Lucky," a gambler hoping to raise $25,000 and thereby prove himself worthy of his bride-to-be, Betty Furness. The plan hits a snag when he meets, and falls for, the beautiful Penny (Ginger Rogers), a dancer in New York. Jerome Kern composed the memorable score, which includes the enduring classic (and winner of the Best Song Oscar), "The Way You Look Tonight," plus, "Pick Yourself Up," "Never Gonna Dance" and "A Fine Romance." Choreographer Hermes Pan received an Oscar nomination for his inspired dance direction.

DIR George Stevens; SCR Howard Lindsay, Allan Scott, based on the story "Portrait of John Garnett" by Erwin S. Gelsey; PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1936, b&w, 103 min. NOT RATED

Fri, Feb 25, 4:45; Sat, Feb 26, 5:10; Mon, Feb 28, 4:45; Tue, Mar 1, 4:45; Wed, Mar 2, 4:45; Thu, Mar 3, 4:45

* Also part of the Hollywood Modern: Film Design of the 1930s series

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

Double Feature: Two Movies for the Cost of One Admission!
STAR OF MIDNIGHT*

Lawyer/sleuth William Powell ("People consider me Charlie Chan, Philo Vance and the Saint all rolled into one") and society girlfriend Ginger Rogers investigate the mystery of a missing woman who has reappeared, under an assumed name, as a stage actress, and why someone would murder a show-biz columnist to keep it a secret. It's not THE THIN MAN, but it's a close relation, and the debonair Powell is very much at home in the swank Manhattan apartment designed for him by Van Nest Polglase.

DIR Stephen Roberts; SCR Howard J. Green, Edward Kaufman, Anthony Veiller, based on the novel by Arthur Somers Roche; PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1935, b&w, 90 min. NOT RATED Presented on DVD

Screening with:

RAFTER ROMANCE

Behind on her rent, working girl Ginger Rogers accepts her landlord's ultimatum and moves into the attic apartment, shared in shifts with Greenwich Village artist/night watchman Norman Foster. Even though the two have never met face to face, they wage the typical roommate battles via written notes. When the two meet cute in person, not realizing who the other really is, their first date promises to be illuminating. A cheeky pre-Code comedy directed by William Seiter (SONS OF THE DESERT, IF YOU COULD ONLY COOK).

DIR William A. Seiter; SCR H.W. Hanemann, Sam Mintz, Glenn Tryon, based on the novel by John Wells; PROD Alexander McGaig. US, 1933, b&w, 73 min. NOT RATED

Sun, Feb 27, 1:00; Mon, Feb 28, 7:00

* Also part of the Hollywood Modern: Film Design of the 1930s series

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

SHALL WE DANCE*

Rogers and Astaire's seventh film pairing finds them aboard an ocean liner, he a famous ballet dancer, she the renowned tap dancer he's fallen for—hard. Complicating the already—fraught courtship (she's not interested), a rumor circulates that the two are secretly married to each other. The catchy score is by George and Ira Gershwin, their first for a Hollywood musical (and George's last—he died later that year). Stand-out songs include Oscar-nominated "They Can't Take That Away from Me," "Shall We Dance" and the cheerful "tomato/tomahto, potato/potahto" breakup duet, "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," to which the pair dance on roller skates!

DIR Mark Sandrich; SCR Allan Scott, Ernest Pagano; PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1937, b&w, 109 min. NOT RATED

Fri, Mar 4, 4:45; Sat, Mar 5, 5:00; Wed, Mar 9, 6:30 (Montgomery College show)

* Also part of the Hollywood Modern: Film Design of the 1930s series

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

Pre-Code Double Feature: Two Movies for the Cost of One Admission!
42ND STREET

Sweet understudy Ruby Keeler gets her big break after star Bebe Daniels fractures an ankle in this fast-paced, hugely influential movie musical. Story-wise, it's the quintessential Depression-era backstage musical, but choreographer Busby Berkeley, who shot and directed the elaborate dance numbers, made it a visual extravaganza, something unique to the screen that couldn't be seen on a Broadway stage. Daniels, Keeler and crooner Dick Powell are top-billed, but young Ginger Rogers is distinctly memorable as saucy dancer "Anytime Annie"—"Anytime Annie? Who could forget 'er. She only said 'no' once and then she didn't hear the question!"

DIR Lloyd Bacon; SCR Rian James, James Seymour, from the novel by Bradford Ropes; PROD Darryl F. Zanuck. US, 1933, b&w, 98 min. NOT RATED

Screening with:

GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933

Coin-clad Ginger Rogers and chorines sing "We're in the Money," but the show's producers aren't, leading to a court-ordered shutdown. Rogers and fellow troupers Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell and Aline MacMahon then go to work raising the cash for their show, specifically targeting Keeler's songwriter beau Dick Powell and his wealthy brother Warren William. Busby Berkeley's dance numbers out-dazzle his triumphs from 42ND STREET earlier that year, while the pre-Code risqué factor—those coin costumes leave little to the imagination, while a song like "Pettin' in the Park" stokes it—will raise eyebrows even today.

DIR Mervyn LeRoy; SCR Erwin Gelsey, James Seymour, from the play "The Gold Diggers of Broadway" by Avery Hopwood. US, 1933, b&w, 96 min. NOT RATED

Sun, Mar 6, 1:00; Mon, Mar 7, 7:00

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

CAREFREE

Ralph Bellamy needs help convincing his cold-footed girlfriend Ginger Rogers to marry him, so he persuades his psychiatrist friend Fred Astaire to take her on as a patient. Happily, through treatment, Rogers does succeed in falling in love ... just not with the right guy! The film is notable for featuring the first-ever kiss between Rogers and Astaire, following their dance to "I Used to Be Color Blind." Nominated for Academy Awards for Art Direction (Van Nest Polglase), Musical Score and Best Song ("Change Partners," by Irving Berlin).

DIR Mark Sandrich; SCR Allan Scott, Ernest Pagano, Dudley Nichols, Hagar Wilde; PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1938, b&w, 83 min. NOT RATED

Sat, Mar 12, 2:45; Mon, Mar 14, 5:30; Wed, Mar 16, 5:30; Thu, Mar 17, 5:30

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

STAGE DOOR

"Evidently you're a very amusing person," deadpans high-toned Katharine Hepburn to wisecracking new roommate Ginger Rogers at their Broadway boarding house for aspiring actresses. But in time, solidarity develops between them over the shared ups and downs of life in the theater, alongside fellow theatrical hopefuls Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, Eve Arden, Gail Patrick and Andrea Leeds. Four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Supporting Actress for Leeds; director Gregory La Cava won top honors from the then-nascent New York Film Critics Circle.

DIR Gregory La Cava; SCR Morrie Ryskind, Anthony Veiller, based on the play by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman; PROD Pandro S. Berman. US, 1937, b&w, 92 min. NOT RATED

Wed, Mar 16, 7:20; Thurs, Mar 17, 9:20

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

VIVACIOUS LADY

Small-town college professor Jimmy Stewart returns from a trip to New York having retrieved ne'er-do-well cousin James Ellison, as his stern father Charles Coburn dictated, but also having married nightclub singer Ginger Rogers in a whirlwind romance, which no one could have anticipated. But their marriage remains unconsummated as the cautious Stewart waits for the right time to break the news to the family, including weak-hearted mother Beulah Bondi and his former fiancée, Frances Mercer. A winning romantic comedy from director George Stevens (THE MORE THE MERRIER).

DIR/PROD George Stevens; SCR P.J. Wolfson, Ernest Pagano, based on a story by I.A.R. Wylie. US, 1938, b&w, 90 min. NOT RATED

Wed, Mar 16, 9:20; Thurs, Mar 17, 7:20

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

MONKEY BUSINESS

Howard Hawks' madcap 1952 comedy was a throwback to the screwball territory of the 1930s that his own TWENTIETH CENTURY, BRINGING UP BABY and HIS GIRL FRIDAY had staked out. With an accidental assist from a lab chimp, brilliant but absent-minded professor Cary Grant ingests a serum that restores youthful vitality by reversing the aging process. Grant rediscovers his vim and vigor; is patient but weary wife Ginger Rogers, overmedicated on the stuff, regresses to full-on childhood. Supporting players Charles Coburn as Grant's taskmaster boss and Marilyn Monroe—already the picture of youth—as Coburn's nontyping secretary round out the picture.

DIR Howard Hawks; SCR Ben Hecht, Charles Lederer, I.A.L. Diamond, Harry Segall; PROD Sol C. Siegel. US, 1952, b&w, 97 min. NOT RATED

Fri, Mar 18, 9:30; Sat, Mar 19, 9:45; Wed, Mar 23, 6:30 (Montgomery College show); Thu, Mar 24, 5:30

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

BACHELOR MOTHER

Single and soon-to-be-unemployed shopgirl Ginger Rogers discovers an abandoned baby and is immediately mistaken for its mother. The boss's son, handsome bachelor David Niven, takes pity on the poor unwed "mother" and arranges for her to remain employed. In spite of himself, Niven finds himself beginning to fall for the plucky young lady and her darling "son." Try as she might, Rogers can't convince anyone that it isn't her baby—least of all the boss, Charles Coburn, who, delighted to find "evidence" that his playboy son might finally be settling down, declares that the infant looks just like him and must be his grandson!

DIR Garson Kanin; SCR Norman Krasna, Felix Jackson; PROD Buddy G. DeSylva. US, 1939, b&w, 82 min. NOT RATED

Sun, Mar 20, 12:30; Mon, Mar 21, 5:30, 9:10; Tues, Mar 22, 5:30

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

ROXIE HART

"This picture is dedicated to all the beautiful women in the world who have shot their men full of holes out of pique." Before the smash Broadway musical "Chicago" and Rob Marshall's 2003 Oscar-winning film adaptation, William Wellman directed Ginger Rogers in this fast, funny and furious screen version of Maurine Watkins' stage original. Rogers is in fine comedic form as Roxie Hart, the dancer who confesses to a murder she didn't commit, while Adolphe Menjou dazzles as her silver-tongued solicitor, Billy Flynn. Though a straight adaptation of Watkins' stage play, and not a musical, Rogers does sneak in two lively, impromptu dance numbers.

DIR William A. Wellman; SCR/PROD Nunnally Johnson, based on the play "Chicago" by Maurine Watkins. US, 1942, b&w, 75 min. NOT RATED

Fri, Mar 25, 5:30; Mon, Mar 28, 5:30; Tue, Mar 29, 5:30; Wed, Mar 30, 5:30, 7:10; Thu, Mar 31, 5:30

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR

Fed up with New York and nearly broke, working girl Ginger Rogers resolves to head home to Iowa. She masquerades as a twelve-year-old to get a child's fare on the train, until a whistle-stop mishap maroons her at a Midwestern military school. The cadets are a little too fond of the new "girl," but Rogers keeps up the charade long enough to get to know schoolmaster Ray Milland. Billy Wilder's directorial debut features inspired comedic work from Rogers and Milland.

DIR Billy Wilder; SCR Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder; PROD Arthur Hornblow Jr. US, 1942, b&w, 100 min. NOT RATED Restored print courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive

Sat, Mar 26, 12:45; Tue, Mar 29, 7:10

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

KITTY FOYLE

Ginger Rogers won the Best Actress Oscar (her first and only nomination) for her portrayal of a working-class young woman who, having pulled herself up by her bootstraps during the Great Depression, now must choose between socially conscious doctor James Craig, who has proposed, and high-society dreamer Dennis Morgan, her ex-husband, who wants her back. The script was one of the first successes in Dalton Trumbo's long, controversial career; additional dialogue was punched up by Donald Ogden Stewart (THE PHILADELPHIA STORY), who would find himself on the blacklist, along with Trumbo, in the 1950s.

DIR Sam Wood; SCR Dalton Trumbo, Donald Ogden Stewart, based on the novel by Christopher Morley; PROD David Hempstead. US, 1940, b&w, 107 min. NOT RATED Presented on DVD

Sun, Mar 27, 7:00; Mon, Mar 28, 7:10

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

THE STORY OF VERNON AND IRENE CASTLE

Rogers and Astaire's final film together for RKO is also the only one based on a true story; they play renowned ballroom dancing stars Irene and Vernon Castle, whose popularity soared in the years leading up to WWI. When the war starts, the story takes a dramatic, tragic turn... Irene Castle served as a consultant on the set, and saw to it that the costume department painstakingly created copies of her gowns and shoes, but when she insisted that Rogers cut and dye her famous long blonde hair to match Castle's own dark bob, Rogers "politely" refused, explaining in her autobiography that the intent was "just to emulate" the Castles, not be carbon copies.

DIR H.C. Potter; SCR Richard Sherman, Oscar Hammerstein II, Dorothy Yost, based on stories by Irene Castle; PROD George Haight. US, 1939, b&w, 93 min. NOT RATED

Fri, Apr 1, 5:30; Sat, Apr 2, 6:05; Sun, Apr 3, 12:30 – just added!; Tue, Apr 5, 5:00; Thu, Apr 7, 5:00

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY

Ten years after playing Vernon and Irene Castle, Rogers and Astaire were united for one final film together, this time at MGM—and in color! The film originally starred Astaire and Judy Garland, but her substance abuse had taken a toll on her performing ability, so Rogers was hired as an eleventh-hour replacement. Here, she plays a veteran musical comedy performer tired of being in a partnership with her husband (Astaire). Her desire to branch out on her own as a dramatic actress eventually causes the couple to split. In a supporting role, Oscar Levant sparkles with acerbic wit as the couple's pianist friend who attempts to reunite them.

DIR Charles Walters; SCR Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Sidney Sheldon; PROD Arthur Freed. US, 1949, color, 109 min. NOT RATED

Sun, Apr 3, 12:20; Mon, Apr 4, 4:30; Wed, Apr 6, 4:30

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.

STORM WARNING

Model/saleswoman Ginger Rogers stops off from her business trip to visit younger sister Doris Day in the sleepy Southern town of Rock Point. But the night she arrives, she stumbles upon a murder scene at the edge of town, spying a group of Klansmen posing—unmasked—with their victim. Stealing away undetected, Rogers arrives at her sister's and is shocked to recognize her new brother-in-law, Steve Cochrane, as one of the killers. Rogers delivers unprecedented dramatic shadings as the conscience-torn sister, and Ronald Reagan gives one of his better performances as the upright DA to whom she turns for help in director Stuart Heisler's (THE GLASS KEY) noir-tinged thriller.

DIR Stuart Heisler; SCR Daniel Fuchs, Richard Brooks; PROD Jerry Wald. US, 1951, b&w, 93 min. NOT RATED

Sat, Apr 2, 8:00; Sun, Apr 3, 2:30

Tickets reserved and purchased online must be retrieved in person at the AFI Silver box office. The same credit card used online must be presented to the cashier to redeem your tickets.