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No Introduction Needed
on 21 August 2011
These films are classical musicals. The question is 'who was the better/best dancer' Fred Astaire danced with? These films may add to discussion and even after repeat viewing (plus other movies) the debate will continue.
These films are familiarly represented in a convenient package.
EASTER PARADE: Originally scheduled for Gene Kelly. He sprained an ankle in a volleyball game. Enter Mr Astaire. With Judy Garland result success. Irving Berlin and technicolor added surefire winners. Astaire plays a dancer ditched by partner Ann Miller. Under pressure he boasts he can make a star out of anyone. He chooses Judy Garland out of a line of chorus girls. Obviously 'no problem' apart from that he is still in love with Ann Miller. Time and music change matters. Outstanding songs and dances: 'A Couple Of Swells', 'Steppin' Out With My Baby','The Girl On The Magazine Cover', Astaire's 'Drum Crazy' solo. I could go on. Director Charles Walter and the cast, score, everything make this a perennial classic.
BROADWAY MELODY OF 1940: Fred Astaire dancing to Cole Porter's 'Beguine The Beguine' with Eleanor Powell is so magical that it sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Personally, I think Eleanor Powell is more than a match for Astaire. George Murphy vies with Fred in a vaudeville routine. Other notable numbers include 'I've Got My Eyes On You', 'I Concentrate On You', 'I Am The Captain'. Charlotte Arren esotericcally performs 'Il Bacio' to add to the attraction. Don't make them like this anymore.
FINIAN'S RAINBOW: Relative newcomer director Francis Ford Coppola took on this 1968 film. Perhaps better on stage, nevertheless, a mixture of fantasy and song was represented by Fred Astaire (a leprechaun figure), Petula Clark, Tommy Steele , Don Francks. Buried gold, granting three wishes from the hidden gold, the 'truth' being the real world and its people. Songs include 'How Are Things in Glocca Morra?' 'If This Isn't Love', 'Look To The Rainbow'. Fred doesn't dance so much but exudes charm. Blarney and social comment framed within a musical setting.
THE BAND WAGON: Brilliant! Producer Arthur Freed gave Astaire the role 20 years after his film debut in 'Dancing Lady'. Top hat and stick (Astaire's Tony Hunter') gives way to a comeback production with Cyd Charisse. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, the results were stunning.Forget the plot. 'Dancing In The Dark', 'The Girl Hunt Ballet', 'That's Entertainment' (apparently written in 30 minutes by Schwartz and Dietz), 'Beggar's Waltz' are dazzling. Astaire at his best. Was Cyd Charisse his best partner? Was it Eleanor Powell or Leslie Carron or Vera Ellen or Rita Hayworth? What about Ginger Rogers?? The answers lie in the films. Keep dreaming.
Classic films here that need nothing but admiration. Lovely.