Starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with director George Stevens, this light film is like a screwball romance with a lot of added dancing. Astaire is a man who has missed his wedding and he agrees to go off to the city with a friend so he can make money to bring back. There he meets a fiery dance teacher accidentally and then they begin to perform together. As “Lucky” (Astaire) and his friend try to survive by gambling with the little money they have, he begins to fall for Penny (Rogers). However, she does not find out until later that he already has a fiancee. When she realizes the situation she goes to marry another. In the end everything is all a big mistake full of laughter and of course everything is made right again. There is no denying that Astaire and Rogers are not only good dancers but good performers. Many of the numbers they dance and sing are memorable like “The Way You Look Tonight,” Pick Yourself Up,” and of course “Waltz in Swing Time.”
Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly were both tremendous dancers and choreographers in their own right. Whether they were in classics like Swing Time or Singin’ in the Rain, they always mixed entertaining films with artistic and at times revolutionary dance sequences. Here they are together in Ziegfeld Follies (1946) performing “The Babbitt and Bromide.”
Starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers with Edward Everett Horton, this musical opens with Astaire in London as he gets ready to star in the show of his good friend Horace (Horton). However, after a late night confrontation with an annoyed neighbor Jerry is hopelessly in love. Multiple times he tries to spend time with her while the show is running. Then, he is eager to travel to Italy when he learns that the woman Dale will be there along with Horace and Madge Hardwicke. After a case of mistaken identity, Dale gets the wrong idea and believes that Jerry is married to her good friend Madge. Unaware of the mix up, he continues to pursue her, madly in love. She feels bad and at the same time tries to stave off Jerry’s advances. The whole mess leads her to marry a buffoon of an Italian designer. However, Jerry catches wind of what happened and tries to resolve their relationship. Through a hilarious loophole they get back together and dance off into the sunset. Some memorable routines include “No Strings (I’m Fancy Free),” “Isn’t This a Lovely Day (to be Caught in the Rain),” “Top Hat, White Tie, and Tails,” then “Cheek to Cheek.” I found the supporting cast to be good and aside from Swing Time this is a good Astarie/Rogers pairing.
So today would have been the birthday of the legendary dancer Fred Astaire and I want to just remember him briefly. I heard it said once that certain people are pioneers in film but Astaire was both revolutionary and simply the best film dancer that there has been to date. He pioneered his art form and even to this day he is the best to ever come from it. That is a testament to how good he was at his trade. I don’t know much about tap dancing but there certainly is something impressive about him whether he is going solo or dancing cheek to cheek with Ginger Rogers. Some of the things he does with his feet or using props, I didn’t even know were humanly possible. I would recommend Swing Time and Top Hat if you want to see some of his work and a sequence worth seeing is Royal Wedding when he dances on the ceiling (Yes, it’s possible)!