There's a world of difference between Gene Kelly, who starred in and co-directed Donen's first movie and became associated with the director early in his career, and this film's star: Astaire is the gentleman to Kelly's athlete; if Gene Kelly appears to bend space and time through the force of his will, Astaire dances like a disinterested God. Astaire's charm was his virtuoso elegance, a long way from Kelly's unbridled energy, which would always have an equal in Donen's uncontrolled vigor.
Donen’s exuberance and Nick Castle’s choreography give him some of his most inspired numbers, including . . . the brilliantly engineered “dancing on the ceiling” sequence, made with the help of a rotating room and camera. The movie concludes with a dazzling cinematic invention: using scrims and sidelighting, Donen entangles Astaire in swirling, elusive patterns that represent the first new way of filming dance since the heyday of Busby Berkeley.