Top Hat, like previous Fred and Ginger films, isn’t so much dependent on its narrative arch or secondary characters. It’s all about the dancing. And frankly, that’s all it needs. The framework for all of Fred and Ginger’s dance numbers is simple – keep the camera moving and at a distance. So as a viewer, you witness one or both dancers do their thing. It’s equally wonderful and impressive. Here they are, with smiles sewn across their faces, dancing for long periods of time without so much as a hint of fatigue.
Of course, the whole film depends on some sort of narrative contraption to give the actors a reason to dance. And the various screenwriters offer the best scenarios they can given the restrictions of the genre type. Top Hat deals with issues of mistaken identity that could easily be solved in a sentence had any of the characters offered to clarify. It’s flimsy, yes, but undeniably cute. There’s such innocence in its manner of storytelling that it makes its contrivances and kooky sensibilities come across as genuine. Top Hat, like Swing Time, exists in a parallel universe, one where a glowing sense of optimism brightens the day. It may come across as too cute for its own good, but on this given day, I welcomed the sunshine.