The Barkley’s of Broadway was originally titled “You Made Me Love You”. Judy Garland was originally cast to co-star opposite Fred Astaire. Judy Garland was not able to physically or emotionally take on the role and Ginger Rogers stepped in. It would be the first time in ten years that Astaire and Rogers co-starred in a film.
The Barkley’s of Broadway was directed by Charles Walters and written by Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Sidney Sheldon. The movie stars Fred Astaire as Josh Barkley, Ginger Rogers as Dinah Barkley, Oscar Levant as Ezra Miller, Billie Burke as Mrs. Livingston Belny and Jacques Francois as Jacques Pierre Barredout. The Barkley’s of Broadway was released on May 4, 1949.
Josh and Dinah Barkley are a very successful husband and wife team who performs tremendous dance routines in musical comedy shows. Generally speaking the Barkley’s get along really well and love each other. Josh tends to be a bit critical of Dinah however, and does not really give her the credit she deserves for being a talented half of their dance team.
After another smashing performance, Josh ruins the moment on the ride to a celebratory party by criticizing Dinah. It is really not clear to me why Josh won’t give Dinah the full credit she deserves; especially since she is his wife and he loves her.
At the party, Josh and Dinah meets a French playwright named Jacques Pierre Barredout. Jacques, is clearly attracted to Dinah and recognizes that she has great talent. Josh is not impressed with the French playwright.
Jacques who is very serious for such a young man pursues Dinah to star in one of his plays. Jacques believes that Dinah should consider being a dramatic actress and moving away from musical comedies. Josh is not thrilled and basically conveys to Dinah that she cannot do dramatic acting.
Jacques manages to convince Dinah to come over to his side and star in his play. Dinah is nervous about telling Josh so she tries to hide it for a while. Josh finds a script that Dinah is hiding while some people from LOOK magazine are in their apartment to do a photo spread on the Barkley’s. Dinah and Josh get into an argument and Dinah walks out on Josh.
Ezra Miller will go to any lengths to make Josh and Dinah reconcile and some of his tactics are very funny. Josh is clearly lonely without Dinah. In the meantime Dinah is in rehearsals with Jacques, but things are not going well. Jacques directing style is way too serious and he does not know how to bring out the best in Dinah. Josh still cares very much about Dinah and doesn’t want her to fail and end up looking like a fool, so he decides to help Dinah without her knowing it.
In the evenings after rehearsal, Josh telephones Dinah and pretends to be Jacques giving her direction and motivation about her character in the play. Josh knows how to direct Dinah and bring out her best. Dinah believes that she is really talking to Jacques. The help of Jacques, who is really Josh is a turning point during rehearsal and Dinah’s performance improves 100 percent. Needless to say, on opening night the play is a smash hit and Dinah gets raves.
Josh is very proud and happy for Dinah, but he loves her and wants her back. However, Josh needs to know if Dinah still loves him, so he pretends one more time to be Jacques over the phone. During the conversation Josh asks Dinah if she still loves her husband. Dinah thinks she is talking to Jacques until he talks into her room while she is still on the phone with Josh.
Dinah does still love Josh and is touched by what he did to help her become a success in Jacques play. However, Dinah doesn’t tell Josh that she knows she is talking to him and not Jacques. Dinah decides to have a little fun with Josh first and then tell him the truth. I was not crazy about Dinah’s scheme because she did say some very hurtful things to Josh in the process. I felt that was not necessary, but this is Hollywood after all. The ending does tune out cute and predictable.
I enjoyed The Barkley’s of Broadway very much. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were a great team. Fred Astaire, while not conventionally handsome, is still nice looking. Astaire had the body of a dancer and possessed so much grace and style. It is really a shame that we don’t see this kind of dancing anymore. Rarely are we ever treated to musical films now.
Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire were ten years older in this film from the last time they teamed up together. Both still had the stamina to handle their roles. I was mesmerized by their dance performances in this movie.
The Barkley’s of Broadway is a really delightful film. It was not available to stream on Netflix, so I watched it via Amazon Prime.