The Gay Divorcee is a gay old time. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the biggest dancing duo in the Golden Age of Hollywood. They danced together in over 10 different musicals, but this was only their second time sharing the screen and dance floor. After Flying Down to Rio, a Broadway musical titled Gay Divorce was the next project with them in mind. Since the Hays Code was implemented at the time, the original title became controversial.
Not for the word “gay,” which meant happy or joyful at the time. Calling a divorce gay was controversial since it was disparaging marriage. A gay divorcee on the other hand is perfectly fine. Ginger Rogers is said gay divorcee who’s more bitter than gay in the beginning. Mimi is seeking a divorce from her absentee husband in England. Fred Astaire is a famous dancer who falls madly in love the moment they meet. Guy Holden almost obsessively searches for Mimi, but they conveniently wind up staying at the same continental hotel.
Together they team up with Alice Brady as Mimi’s chatty aunt, Edward Everett Horton as their confused lawyer, Erik Rhodes as a bumbling Italian co-respondent, and Eric Blore as a half witted waiter. They all end up sharing a connection through a series of ironic misunderstandings. The romance is swell and the comedy is fun, but it’s obvious the entire movie centers around song and dance numbers. “Night and Day” is a great song for the couple’s first dance, but “The Continental” was the first song to win Best Original Song. The 17 minute long sequence is a major production that gives The Gay Divorcee its pep.