250 films | 77 | The secret Heart (1946)
↳ New to me (41/50)
“Arlene Croce, author of a definitive volume on Astaire and Rogers, says of “I’ll Be Hard to Handle”: “This is the big event of the film, the number in which ‘Fred and Ginger’ became fixed screen deities.” It certainly gets your attention. They start with a rhythmic shuffle, then after eight bars he gently takes her by the waist and together they spin around and around, settling at last into one of the most brilliant and inventive tap duets ever filmed. Halfway through the number, they separate and have a tap “conversation”, each taking a phrase, then each responding with a salvo of taps. The band strikes up a bugle call, and Rogers snaps to military attention, only to be distracted by Astaire’s invitation to resume their buoyant pas de deux. They continue the breathtaking duet as the music rises to a new wave of excitement; then, just as our hearts are ready to burst with exhilaration, they whirl one last time and collapse into two chairs.” [x]
It happened that Larry [Kleno] was a trusted friend to Helen Ferguson, and after she suffered a series of strokes she moved from her office-apartment and asked Larry to clear out all her files, correspondence, etc. There he found years of letters to Helen from Robert Taylor written from different movie locations, describing various people and events (many of them self-deprecating). “They were beautifully written and extremely funny”, Larry said, “he could have been a writer.” Sometimes Bob would write candidly about problems he was having with a character and say, “I sure could use the Queen’s help.” And ALWAYS he would ask about how Barbara was doing.
Since Taylor had died, Larry couldn’t return them to their author, but he didn’t want to discard them either. He decided to deliver them to Barbara, but worried how she’d react to them. The next day she phoned him: “Well, young man, you really put me through it last night.” She said that she shed a lot of tears reading them, but was glad Larry had saved them. Her voice breaking, she said, “I thought he’d stopped loving me.”