Shall We Dance (1937)


Plot: Smitten with photographs of musical revue star Linda Keene, Pete P. Peters, an American ballet dancer living in Paris and performing under the name Petrov, vows to his impresario, Jeffrey Baird, that he will meet and marry her. However, when Pete, who secretly prefers jazz dancing to formal ballet, finally arrives at Linda's apartment, he overhears her eschewing her fawning male admirers and expressing to her nearly bankrupt producer, Arthur Miller, her desire to quit show business. With his thickest Russian accent, Pete introduces himself as Petrov, the temperamental ballet star, and pretends to be unimpressed by Linda. Then, to be near her as well as be away from Lady Tarrington, a former ballerina and dogged admirer of his, Pete tricks Jeffrey into booking passage for him on the same New York-bound boat on which Linda is sailing the next day. Before boarding the liner, Pete encounters Lady Tarrington and, in order to rid himself of her, confirms Jeffrey's story that he has been married in secret for four years. While sailing to New York, Pete connives to join Linda as she takes her little dog on his daily walks and gradually wins favor with her. However, after rumors generated through Lady Tarrington about Pete's "secret marriage" begin to spread around the boat, Linda's attentions to Pete lead to speculation that she is Pete's wife and is pregnant. When an outraged Linda then hears from Jeffrey that Pete used her to avoid Lady Tarrington, she grabs the next mail airplane to New York. After Linda assures her confused Park Avenue fiance, Jim Montgomery, that she is still single, Arthur throws a party for the couple on the hotel's roof. During the party, Arthur, who doesn't want Linda to marry Jim and leave show business, connives to have her perform an impromptu dance with Pete, then conspires with a publicity man to have a sleeping Pete photographed with a mannequin of Linda. The published photograph, which is offered as proof of Pete and Linda's marriage, forces the reluctant couple to flee from reporters, and eventually leads them to marry secretly in New Jersey. Linda agrees to the marriage on condition that she can divorce Pete immediately, but soon realizes that she truly loves the dancer. However, when she finds Pete with Lady Tarrington, she disappears from the hotel and initiates divorce proceedings. Although the resulting scandal causes Pete to lose his engagement with the Metropolitan Ballet Company, Arthur, desperate over the absence of Linda, offers to feature him in his upcoming musical revue. At the show's opening, Linda arrives to serve Pete his divorce papers, but when she sees the number that he created, in which all of the dancers are wearing masks of her face, her anger dissolves. By placing herself in the dance, Linda reunites on stage with a joyful Pete.

Alternative Plot: Peter P. Peters (Fred Astaire) is an American ballet dancer working in Paris. After happening across a photograph of tap-dance sensation Linda Keene (Ginger Rogers), Peters falls instantly in love and, using his connections, arranges for a meeting. Unfortunately, Peters's overzealous nature leaves Keene unimpressed and a rumor begins circulating that the two are secretly married. In order to quell the rumor Peters and Keene decide to actually get married and then seek a prompt divorce.

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