In 1934, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appeared in their second film together, The Gay Divorcee. The dynamic dance team shared a cameo in the 1933 Delores Del Rio film Flying Down to Rio, and became wildly popular. The Gay Divorcee is the first of the their ten film pairings as headliners. The film is charming, filled with wonderful song and dance numbers throughout. Originally made for the stage, this Cole Porter vehicle, featured a delicate subject matter, divorce, in the eyes of the newly enforced Hayes Code. Originally named “Gay Divorce,” the Hays Office insisted on changing the name for the film version to “The Gay Divorcee.” They believed that while a divorcee could be gay or lighthearted, it would be unseemly to allow a divorce to appear so.(1) That year, The Gay Divorcee was nominated for Best Film by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
Astaire and Rogers weren’t the only shining stars in this film. There is a song and dance cameo featuring our beloved Betty Grable that steals the show. Coaxing a nerdy bumbling lawyer, Edward Everette Horton, to the dance floor to “k-nock knees,” this early film highlights Grable’s shimmer, bubbly charm, wicked dance skills, and singing style that would propel her to box-office fame during WWII. She was eighteen years old when this film was released.
So, with that, I give you, “Let’s K-nock K-nees,” sung and danced by Betty Grable, Edward Everett Horton and the RKO dance chorus.