Swing Time
January 8th, 2022

Swing Time [1936]

Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle as we screen George Stevens’ Oscar winning (Best Original Song) film Swing Time [1936].

Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

Downtown Central Library Auditorium
1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY 14203
(Enter from Clinton Street between Oak and Washington Streets)
716-858-8900 • www.BuffaloLib.org
COVID protocol will be followed.

TrailerSynopsisDirector BioLinks

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ sixth screen pairing, about a professional hoofer and sometime gambler who enters into a fine romance with a pretty dance instructor. Featuring the Oscar-winning Best Song, “The Way You Look Tonight.”


  • Academy Awards – 1937 – Winner: Best Music, Original Song
  • Academy Awards – 1937 – Nominee: Best Dance Direction
  • National Film Preservation Board – 2004

“To produce and direct a movie today, a man really ought to have two heads. It is like trying to be a traffic cop and write a poem at the same time.”

Courtesy of TCM:

Leading Hollywood craftsman, responsible for some fine films of the 1930s and 40s, but whose later output tended toward the over-ambitious and excessive.

The son of performers, Stevens entered films at age 17 as a cameraman and later worked for the Hal Roach company, where he directed his first shorts. He joined RKO in 1934 and proceeded to churn out a series of crafty comedies and light musicals, scoring his first major success with “Alice Adams” (1935), which was followed by the Astaire-Rogers classic “Swing Time” (1936), the action-packed “Gunga Din” and the brilliantly realized debut pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, “Woman of the Year” (1941).

After heading the Army Signal Corps Special Motion Picture Unit during WWII, Stevens re-entered civilian life in 1945 and hit his peak with “I Remember Mama” (1948) and “A Place in the Sun” (1951). His subsequent work, including “Shane” (1953) and “Giant” (1956), strove for epic status but came off as overblown and excessive. Stevens’s final effort, “The Only Game in Town” (1970), was a refreshing, if flawed, return to his earlier, more modest, style.

Son George Stevens, Jr., is a producer who made a well-received documentary on his father, “George Stevens, Filmmaker” (1984), served as chief of the United States Information Service’s motion picture division from 1962-67 and was named the first head of the American Film Institute in 1977.


  • The Only Game in Town (1970)
  • The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
  • The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)
  • Giant (1956)
  • The Eddie Cantor Story (1954)
  • Shane (1953)
  • Something to Live For (1952)
  • A Place in the Sun (1951)
  • On Our Merry Way (1948)
  • I Remember Mama (1948)
  • The Nazi Plan (1945)
  • The More the Merrier (1943)
  • The Talk of the Town (1942)
  • Woman of the Year (1942)
  • Penny Serenade (1941)
  • Vigil in the Night (1940)
  • Gunga Din (1939)
  • Vivacious Lady (1938)
  • A Damsel in Distress (1937)
  • Quality Street (1937)
  • Swing Time (1936)
  • Annie Oakley (1935)
  • Alice Adams (1935)
  • Laddie (1935)
  • The Nitwits (1935)
  • Hunger Pains (1935)
  • Hollywood Party (1934)
  • Bachelor Bait (1934)
  • Kentucky Kernels (1934)
  • Ocean Swells (1934)
  • The Cohens and Kellys in Trouble (1933)

Here is a curated selection of links for additional insight/information:

  • Cultivate Cinema Circle info-sheet – link
  • “You will find that the astute filmmakers at RKO-Radio’s studio have not forgotten their reliably entertaining formula for an Astaire-Rogers show. The plot is never permitted to weigh upon the shoulders of the cast; of comedy there is a generous portion; of romance the lightest sprinkling; of dancing, in solo, duet and ensemble, a brisk and debonair allotment. Add to these a handsomely modernistic, even impressionistic, series of sets, the usual appreciative photography and you have a picture that unquestionably will linger for a few weeks at the Music Hall…If, by any chance, you are harboring any fears that Mr. Astaire and Miss Rogers have lost their magnificent sense of rhythm, be reassured. Their routines, although slightly more orthodox than usual, still exemplify ballroom technique at its best.” — Frank S. Nugent, The New York Times [1936] – link
  • “In addition to dances which directly advance the plot, Astaire created many which express individual character or elaborate and give depth to an emotional situation-ones integrated according to the fourth definition. While these dances do not move the plot forward, they are derived from the plot situation, and they expand upon it. Thus, despair over a shattered romance is expressed in a dance in Swing Time…It is difficult to find an Astaire number that doesn’t somehow contribute to the film’s general spirit or theme, one that doesn’t add to the genial tone of sophistication, bright humor, and love-making that is found in most of his films.” — John Mueller, Cinema Journal [1984] – link
  • “Astaire and Rogers exhaust superlatives, yet after you get tired of praising them, there is ‘Never Gonna Dance,’ their masterpiece…There will be a happy ending, of course, replete with laughter, song, and every rough edge smoothed away. But nothing can really follow this dance, and noth­ing can touch it. It goes beyond perfection, and hopelessly beyond words.” — Imogen Sara Smith, The Current [2019] – link

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