The Barkleys of Broadway became Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' "reunion" picture purely by accident. Originally conceived as a follow-up to the successful Astaire-Judy Garland vehicle Easter Parade, Barkleys was to have starred Fred and Judy as a successful musical comedy team that breaks up when the female half decides to become a "serious" artist. Just before shooting started, Garland fell ill, Rogers replaced her, and the rest, as they say, is history. The script is as thin as a spider's web, a mere coat-rack upon which to hang several topnotch musical numbers. Fred and Ginger aren't quite as footloose and fancy-free as they were in their RKO heyday, but they still work together seamlessly. The film's highlights include "My One and Only Highland Fling," "You'd Be Hard to Replace," a reprise of "They Can't Take That Away From Me" (originally performed by Astaire and Rogers in Shall We Dance?), and Oscar Levant's keyboard rendition of "The Sabre Dance." The film's least memorable moment is the play-within-a-play wherein Rogers, cast as the young Sarah Bernhardt, passionately recites "The Marseillaise" as an audition piece!
by Hal Erickson synopsis