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Screen Teams: Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire |
In 1942, Astaire competed with Bing Crosby
for the spotlight and the girls (Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale) in
HOLIDAY INN. Produced at
(Crosby's home studio), Fred was destined
to come in second to the hometown star in the film's billing and its
romantic plot. And although Bing
stole the show with his rendition of Irving Berlin's Oscar-winning
holiday hit "White Christmas," Fred has his fair share of exceptional
dance numbers including "Let's Say It With Firecrackers" during the
Independence Day sequence.
Capture Her Heart" (clip) from HOLIDAY INN (1942) sung with
Bing Crosby (a .MP3 file).
Though Astaire was a much more classically trained dancer than
Ray Bolger or Donald O'Connor,
every so often he did perform a comedic dance similar to those for which
Bolger and (later) O'Connor
were famous. In HOLIDAY INN, one such number is a jitterbug
sequence in which a "fractured" (intoxicated) Astaire dances
"rubber-legged" with Marjorie Reynolds (left).
The following year, Fred returned to RKO
and made THE SKY'S THE LIMIT (1943) with
Joan Leslie. It's the story of a famous flier (Fred) who takes leave of his
squadron's personal appearance tour and falls in love with a photographer (Leslie)
but doesn't want her to know who he really is. Astaire is miscast as a
"wolf" who learns to settle down, and the song list is a little weak, but the
highlight of the film is Fred's solo song and dance "One For My Baby (and One
More For the Road)".
Still More Memorable Quotations:
- "He's always had that look. It doesn't mean anything
emotionally. It has something to do with his liver." --as Ted
Hanover in HOLIDAY INN (1942).
- "I love Jim too, but after all -- let's not be too chummy." --as
Ted Hanover in HOLIDAY INN (1942).
- "The word doesn't change. A gentle smile often brings a kick
in the pants." --as Ted Hanover in HOLIDAY INN (1942).
- "Oh, that'll be easy -- like peeling a turtle." --as Ted Hanover
in HOLIDAY INN (1942).
- "I've been this close to marriage before only to find myself the
next day with no bride and a hangover." --as Ted Hanover in HOLIDAY
- "I'll admit my attempt at conversation wasn't so hot. Shall
I try again?" --as Robert Davis in YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942).
- "I opened my mouth too wide and kept it open too long." --as
Robert Davis in YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942).
- "Imagine a man like me having to dance for a living." --as Robert
Davis in YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942).
- "I can't concentrate when you look at me like that." --as Robert
Davis in YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942).
- "Couldn't I be the fellow who never gets his name mentioned -- the
one they call 'a friend'? You know, 'Ginger Rogers and friend.'"
--as Fred Atwell in THE SKY'S THE LIMIT (1943).
- "Now wait a minute. I've been in some pretty tough spots in
my life, but this is the first time a beautiful girl has ever proposed
to me, and I'm all swept off my feet." --as Fred Atwell in THE SKY'S
THE LIMIT (1943).
BLUE SKIES (1946) was the second of two musicals Astaire made with
Bing Crosby, the first being HOLIDAY INN (1942).
This film also featured a thin plot involving competition for the girl
(Joan Caulfield, this time) and loads of songs by Irving Berlin. And
Bing sang "White Christmas" (and other Berlin
standards like "Blue Skies" and "How Deep is the Ocean?"). But the
dancing was all Astaire. His "Heat Wave" number with Olga San Juan
and his "Puttin' on the Ritz" solo (pictured below) are among the
highlights of the film. Disappointed by what he perceived to be the
general decline of his career however, after BLUE SKIES, Fred announced
his retirement from motion pictures.
Sing "Puttin' on the Ritz" from BLUE SKIES (1946).
A short version
or the longer version
(both .WAV files).
(For help opening these files, visit the
Mostly filmed in 1944 though not ready for release until 1946, ZIEGFELD
FOLLIES was an all-star MGM
extravaganza of music, dancing and comedy routines featuring some of the
biggest stars of the day: William Powell,
Gene Kelly, Lena Horne,
Judy Garland, Lucille Ball,
Fanny Brice, Red Skelton,
Cyd Charisse, Edward Arnold,
Esther Williams and more. Directed by Vincente Minnelli and produced
by Arthur Freed, the film is
relatively plotless and has its low points, but high points include
Astaire's dance solo, "Limehouse Blues," and his duet with
Gene Kelly (whom he always professed was his favorite dance partner (*1)),
the Gershwins' "The Babbitt and the Bromide."
Babbitt and the Bromide" sung with Gene Kelly
(a .MP3 file courtesy
- Taylor, John Russell. "Astaire."
Films and Filming
(August 1987): 21.
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