DirectorWilliam A. Seiter Music directorJerome Kern, Max Steiner LanguageEnglish
WriterJerome Kern, Otto Harbach, Alice Duer Miller Release dateMarch 8, 1935 (1935-03-08) Film seriesAstaire & Rogers Film Series CastIrene Dunne (Stephanie), Fred Astaire (Huckleberry Haines), Ginger Rogers (Comtesse Scharwenka), Randolph Scott (John Kent), Helen Westley (Roberta / Aunt Minnie), Claire Dodd (Sophie) Similar moviesBirdman, Pitch Perfect 2, Frozen, Mission: Impossible, Youth, Aladdin
TaglineJerome Kern's Queen of Musical Romances!
Roberta 1935 lovely to look at fred astaire and ginger rogers
John Kent (Randolph Scott), visiting Paris with his bandleader friend, Huck Haines (Fred Astaire), suddenly inherits his aunts fashionable dress shop in the city. Although clueless about the fashion world, John and Huck get help from designer Stephanie (Irene Dunne) and the fiery Countess Scharwenka (Ginger Rogers), whom Huck recognizes as his small-town sweetheart, Lizzie. But when Johns snooty ex, Sophie (Claire Dodd), shows up, he must reconsider his new feelings for Stephanie.
Roberta is a 1935 musical film by RKO starring Irene Dunne, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Randolph Scott. It was an adaptation of a 1933 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was based on the novel Gowns by Roberta by Alice Duer Miller. It was a solid hit, showing a net profit of more than three-quarters of a million dollars.
The film kept the famous songs "Yesterdays", "Lets Begin" (with altered lyrics), and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" from the play, along with a fourth song, "Ill Be Hard to Handle". Three songs from the play were dropped — "The Touch of Your Hand", "Something Had To Happen" and "Youre Devastating". Two songs were added to this film, "I Wont Dance" (lifted from the flop Kern show Three Sisters) and "Lovely to Look At", which both became #1 hits in 1935. The latter addition was nominated for the Best Song Oscar. The songs "I Wont Dance" and "Lovely to Look At" have remained so popular that they are now almost always included in revivals and recordings of Roberta.
Roberta is the third Astaire-Rogers film, and the only one to be remade with other actors. MGM did so in 1952, entitling the new Technicolor version Lovely to Look At. Indeed, with an eye to a remake, MGM bought Roberta in 1945, keeping it out of general circulation until the 1970s.
Football player John Kent tags along as Huck Haines and the Wabash Indianians travel to an engagement in Paris, only to lose it immediately. John and company visit his aunt, owner of a posh fashion house run by her assistant, Stephanie. There they meet the singer Scharwenka (alias Huck's old friend Lizzie), who gets the band a job. Meanwhile, Madame Roberta passes away and leaves the business to John and he goes into partnership with Stephanie.
John Kent (Randolph Scott), a former star football player at Harvard, goes to Paris with his friend Huck Haines (Fred Astaire) and the latters dance band, the Wabash Indianians. Alexander Voyda (Luis Alberni) has booked the band, but refuses to let them play when he finds the musicians are not the Indians he expected, but merely from Indiana (Huck Haines and his Indianians Band).
John turns to the only person he knows in Paris for help, his Aunt Minnie (Helen Westley), who owns the fashionable "Roberta" gown shop. While there, he meets her chief assistant (and secretly the head designer), Stephanie (Irene Dunne). John is quickly smitten with her.
Meanwhile, Huck unexpectedly stumbles upon someone he knows very well. "Countess Scharwenka", a temperamental customer at Robertas, turns out to be his hometown sweetheart Lizzie Gatz (Ginger Rogers). She gets Hucks band an engagement at the nightclub where she is a featured entertainer.
Two things trouble John. One is Ladislaw (Victor Varconi), the handsome Russian deposed prince and doorman who seems too interested in Stephanie. The other is the memory of Sophie (Claire Dodd), the snobbish, conceited girlfriend he left behind after a quarrel over his lack of sophistication and polish.
When Aunt Minnie dies unexpectedly without leaving a will, John inherits the shop. Knowing nothing about womens fashion and that his aunt intended for Stephanie to inherit the business, he persuades Stephanie to remain as his partner. Correspondents flock to hear what a football player has to say about feminine fashions. Huck gives the answers, making a lot of weird statements about the innovations John is planning to introduce.
Sophie arrives in Paris, attracted by Johns good fortune. She enters the shop, looking for a dress, but is dissatisfied with everything Stephanie shows her. Huck persuades her to choose a gown that John had ordered discarded as too vulgar. When John sees her in it, they quarrel for the final time.
John reproaches Stephanie for selling Sophie the gown. Terribly hurt, Stephanie quits the shop. With Robertas putting on a fashion show in a week, Huck takes over the design work, with predictably bad results. When Stephanie sees his awful creations, she is persuaded to return to save Robertas reputation.
The show is a triumph, helped by the entertaining of Huck, Countess Scharwenka, and the band. (A pre-stardom Lucille Ball, with platinum blond hair, appears uncredited in her first RKO film as a model wearing an elaborate feather cape, after the vocal by Dunne, in the fashion show.) The closing sensation is a gown modeled by Stephanie herself. At the show, John overhears that she and Ladislaw are leaving Paris and mistakenly assumes that they have married. Later, he congratulates her for becoming a princess. When she informs him that Ladislaw is merely her cousin and that the title has been hers since birth, the lovers are reunited. Huck and Lizzie, who decide to get married, do a final tap dance sequel.
Irene Dunne as Stephanie
Fred Astaire as Huck
Ginger Rogers as Scharwenka
Randolph Scott as John
Helen Westley as Roberta
Claire Dodd as Sophie
Victor Varconi as Ladislaw
Luis Alberni as Voyda
Ferdinand Munier as Lord Delves
Torben Meyer as Albert
The Pipe Organ Number Astaire performing on the hands of his band arranged as a keyboard
Lets Begin Comedy song and dance number by Astaire, Candy Candido and Gene Sheldon, with band
Yesterdays Sung by Dunne, with guitar and string bass accompaniment
Ill be Hard to Handle Double dance by Astaire and Rogers, a tap number in which they "talk with their feet." (Repartee expressed in dance steps)
I Wont Dance Song by Rogers, Astaire at piano; followed by a solo dance to the melody by Astaire
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes Sung by Irene Dunne (reprise danced by Ginger and Fred)
Russian Lullaby Sung by Dunne with balalaika orchestra
Fashion Pageant Parade of models in an array of costumes to a medley of songs, with Astaire as master of ceremonies
Lovely to Look At Dunne solo and Rogers & Astaire dance
Finale Dance Astaire and Rogers
According to RKO records, the film made $1,467,000 in the USA and Canada and $868,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $770,000.
Lovely to Look At (1952). Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appear in Roberta and Swing Time. Roberta and Follow the Fleet are part of the same movie series. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appear in Roberta and Carefree. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appear in Roberta and The Gay Divorcee.
In popular culture
The Venetian fashion house Roberta di Camerino, founded by Giuliana Camerino in 1945, was named for the film.