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Screen Teams: Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire |
In 1948, Gene Kelly was scheduled to make
Irving Berlin's EASTER PARADE with
Judy Garland, but he broke an ankle and
talked Astaire out of his "retirement" to fill in. Fred plays an
established song-and- dance man who attempts to break in a new partner (Judy)
after his old partner (Ann
Miller) leaves him to go solo. At left is a still of Fred and
singing "A Couple of Swells," one of the film's most memorable numbers.
The success of EASTER PARADE lead the studio to plan another Astaire-Garland
vehicle for the following year, but this time it was
who had to pull out due to illness, prompting Fred's reunion with
Ginger Rogers in
THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY (1949), their tenth and final film together.
Fred and Judy
singing "Snooky Ookums" in EASTER PARADE (1948).
Music Clips from EASTER PARADE:
"A Couple of Swells" sung with Judy
Garland (clip) (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino
"It Only Happens When I Dance with You" (clip) (a .MP3 file courtesy
"Steppin' Out with My Baby" (clip) (a .MP3 file courtesy
(For help opening these files, visit the
Quickly becoming a staple of the
Arthur Freed musical unit at MGM,
Astaire was next cast alongside Red Skelton (at piano, left) and
in THREE LITTLE WORDS (1950)
the story of songwriters Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby's rise to fame --
including "some of their songs and some of their adventures."
Actually, the plot involves many more songs than adventures.
In addition to the loaded song list however, THREE LITTLE WORDS (1950)
also features some memorable dance numbers, most notably "Thinking of
You" and "Mr. and Mrs. Hoofer at Home," both danced by Astaire and
Astaire and Anita Ellis (who dubbed
Vera-Ellen's voice) sing some of "Where Did You Get That Girl?" from
THREE LITTLE WORDS (1950). (a .MP3 file courtesy
Even More Memorable Quotations:
- "I don't want the very best. I want you." --as Don Hewes in EASTER
- "Why didn't you tell me I was in love with you?" --as Don Hewes in
EASTER PARADE (1948).
- "Read a book sometime. It might improve your brain." --as Bert
Kahlmer in THREE LITTLE WORDS (1950).
- "I like weddings as long as they're not mine." --as Tom Bowen in
ROYAL WEDDING (1951).
- "There's a fellow who won't take 'Yes' for an answer." --as Tom
Bowen in ROYAL WEDDING (1951).
- "I nevah had no muddah. We was too poor." --as Tom Bowen in ROYAL
- "I always smile when I'm heart-broken." --as Tom Bowen in ROYAL
- "I am not Nijinsky. I am not Marlon Brando. I am Mrs.
Hunter's little boy Tony -- song and dance man." --as Tony Hunter in
THE BAND WAGON (1953).
- "No, Les, you haven't changed a bit. You look desperately
ill as usual." --as Tony Hunter in THE BAND WAGON (1953).
- "She came at me in sections -- more curves than a scenic railway.
She was bad. She was dangerous. I wouldn't trust her any
farther than I could throw her. She was selling hard, but I
wasn't buying." --as Tony Hunter in THE BAND WAGON (1953).
- "Who would ever have believed that human beings would be stupid
enough to blow themselves off the face of the earth?" --as Julian
Osborne in ON THE BEACH (1959).
In 1951, after both June
Allyson and then Judy Garland
had to drop out, Fred made ROYAL WEDDING
with MGM's rising soprano
Jane Powell. Loosely based on Astaire's early career with his sister
Adele, it's the story of a brother-sister song-and-dance act which breaks
up when both decide to get married. The plot of this film isn't anything
to rave about (nor are
Powell's three solos), but memorable numbers include "How Could You
Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been A Liar All My
Life" and "Every Night at Seven."
Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been A
Liar All My Life" (clip) sung with
Jane Powell (a .MP3 file courtesy
ROYAL WEDDING (1951)
also features two wonderful Astaire dance solos: "Sunday Jumps" features
Fred partnered with a coat rack, while in "You're All The World to Me"
(above) he dances on the walls and ceiling of his hotel room. (The
furnishings were anchored and the room was built inside a rotating
"barrel" which turned simultaneously with the camera, permitting the
impressive special effects.)
After their success together in THREE LITTLE WORDS, Fred combined with
'fifties dance sensation
for a second time in MGM's THE
BELLE OF NEW YORK (1952). Set in the Gay 'Nineties, the film
features Fred as a playboy chasing
the missionary and also co-stars
Marjorie Main. The song list includes such Harry Warren - Johnny
Mercer tunes as "Oops," "Baby Doll," and "(I Wanna Be a) Dancin' Man."
Overall however, thanks to a weaker-than-usual plot and some special
effects-laden dance numbers, THE BELLE OF NEW YORK was not a critical or
box office success. Nevertheless, as eggs go, it has its points.
Wanna Be a) Dancin' Man" (clip) from THE BELLE OF NEW YORK (a .MP3 file
courtesy Rhino Records).
(For help opening this file, visit the
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