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Silk Stockings(1957)

When Fred Astaire smashed his trademarked top hat at the end of “The Ritz Roll and Rock,” it was more than the punch line to a musical send up of pop music. It was the end of an era. Shortly after this lavish film musical came out, he announced his retirement from movie musicals, a form he wouldn’t return to until Finian’s Rainbow 11 years later. Adapted from the Broadway musical, which in turn was adapted from MGM’s 1939 Ninotchka, the film pits an all-business Soviet official (Cyd Charisse) against a romantic American film producer (Astaire) in Paris. To make the transition to musical, the point of contention was changed from Russian jewels in the original to a Soviet composer whom Astaire wants to score his latest film. Astaire is his usual charming self here, and though Charisse has trouble measuring up to Garbo’s performance in the eyes of some, she makes the role her own when the music starts. The score by Cole Porter includes the standard “All of You” along with some new numbers to provide more dancing opportunities. The supporting cast includes Peter Lorre, George Tobias (who was in the Broadway musical and the original film) and the deliciously brash Janis Paige, who joins Astaire to pay tribute to the glories of “Stereophonic Sound.” (d. Rouben Mamoulian, 117m, Digital)

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