The Trouble with Feathers in Top Hat

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There is perhaps no other film that memorializes Fred Astaire’s exceptional dancing skill like Top Hat. His show-stopping musical number "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" features some of his finest moves while he's dressed to the nines.

Top Hat was the first film specifically written for Astaire and Rogers and was one of their most successful projects.

1. Feathers were Fred’s foes.

While doing the “Cheek to Cheek” number, Ginger Rogers’ feathery costume caused problems. Feathers went everywhere, including in Astaire’s eyes, nose, and on his clothes. However, Rogers felt the dress was perfect and refused to change. Astaire joked about the incident, singing the modified lyrics: “Feathers! I see feathers!” After seeing the film, he agreed that the dress worked for the scene and sent her a thank you note along with a feather charm. Read about another dress incident between the stars here.

2. Canes were injured in the making of this movie.

The “Top Hat” number was unusual because Astaire improvised the gun-shot sequence which isn’t set to music. It was an especially challenging moment because it was done in one long take, which required everything to be done just right. As a result, Astaire got frustrated and would break the cane after a bad take. However, the prop department only had 13 canes. Thankfully, when he was on the last cane, he did the routine perfectly.

3. They inspired dance classes.

The audience was inspired by Fred and Ginger’s dancing, and magazine articles and dance classes sprung up where people could learn the moves to songs like “The Picolino." Even more impressive is that all of the songs from the movie hit number #1, which isn’t surprising considering they were written by Irving Berlin.