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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

July 16, 2009 at 9:16 AM

Ginger Rogers, and the movie moments that make us happy

I’m leaving town for a couple of days, on a trip that I already know will be bittersweet. And so I’m thinking, today, about cinematic comfort food. Movies can touch our emotions in endless ways, but my favorite is the way some moment of seemingly effortless magic can for a moment fill us with joy, forgetting everything other than that little spark of perfection we just saw. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s happened for me in new movies a few times recently: It’s impossible not to smile in the final, soaring moments of “Star Trek,” or to forget the beauty of Michelle Pfeiffer in “Cheri,” or to resist the shiver of anticipation upon hearing the “Harry Potter” theme music again.
But when we talk about movie magic, we have to talk about Ginger Rogers — and that’s appropriate, because she was born 98 years ago today. The movies she made with Fred Astaire have always been a touchstone for me (and not just because I was in the same room with her twice), because she had that rare gift of conveying pure joy. I’ve seen “Swing Time,” the movie from which the clip below is taken, countless times, and every time this number takes my breath away — the way the music builds and the dance gets faster, the way she gazes at him in giddy disbelief, the way they jump over the rail in the final moments, so confidently they barely seem earthbound. The song is called “Pick Yourself Up,” and it does exactly that; just try to watch this without a smile.

I’ll be back Monday. Hope you all find a little joy this weekend, on screen or elsewhere.

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