The Fred And Ginger Collection Vols. 1 & 2 [DVD]
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Collection of eight classic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films. In 'Top Hat' (1935), Jerry Travers (Astaire) receives an inexplicably haughty response from Dale Tremont (Rogers) when he attempts to woo her, but that's because she has mistaken him for her friend's husband. Love's eventual triumph is charted through a number of classic song and dance routines, including 'Cheek to Cheek' and 'Top Hat, White Tie and Tails'. In 'Follow the Fleet' (1936), Astaire plays Bake Baker, a new recruit in the Navy who comes to the rescue of sisters, Sherry (Rogers) and Harriet Hillard (Connie Martin). Lucille Ball, Betty Grable and Tony Martin appear in minor roles, while the lyrics are supplied by Irving Berlin. Songs include 'Let's Face the Music and Dance', 'Get Thee Behind Me' and 'Let Yourself Go'. In 'Shall We Dance?' (1937), Petrov (Astaire), a Russian ballet dancer, and musical comedy star Linda Keene (Rogers) are thrust into a marriage of convenience - she wants the shotgun wedding to be followed by an even quicker divorce, so that she can marry the man she really loves and retire from the stage. Not surprisingly, though, the path to true love takes a few unplanned diversions. In 'Carefree' (1938), Astaire and Rogers team up in the story of a psychiatrist who falls in love with one of his patients. A light musical with lyrics from Irving Berlin such as 'Change Partners' and 'I Used To Be Colour Blind'. In 'The Gay Divorcee' (1934), would-be divorcee Mimi Glossop (Rogers) mistakes love-sick Guy Holden (Astaire) for a professional co-respondent hired by her aunt. She therefore treats him with disdain, but romance proves inevitable. In 'Swing Time' (1936), John 'Lucky' Garnett (Astaire) is due to be married, but his father-in-law to be says he has to earn $25,000 to prove that he is worthy. So he goes off to take some dance lessons, only to fall for his instructor, Penny Carrol (Rogers). The score won Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields an Oscar. In 'Flying Down to Rio' (1933), the first of the Astaire/Rogers collaborations, a love triangle is set up when heiress Belinha de Rezende (Dolores Del Rio), herself the object of crooner Julio Rubeiro's (Raul Roulien) affections, sets her cap at American Roger Bond (Gene Raymond). Famous for its finale, in which girls dance on the wings of moving airplanes. Finally, in 'The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle' (1939), is a nostalgic review of the lives of Vernon and Irene Castle. The internationally successful ballroom dancers wooed the hearts of America during World War One, before their careers were tragically cut short by an air crash. Classic numbers include 'Ron, Ron, Ron', 'Take Me Back to New York Town' and 'Little Brown Jug'.
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Box 1 includes;
Follow the Fleet
Shall We Dance
Box 2 includes;
The Gay Divorcee
Flying Down to Rio
The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle
This is an excellent box set, contains the essential Fred and Ginger films, plus a nice set of postcards.. The songs, by Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, etc, are just amazing, and Fred and Ginger sing them beautifully. And of course the dance sequences will, and have, gone down in history as a sort of peak of the genre. These are amongst the first great wave of musicals, black and white, the stories are sort of 'stock' plots, with a couple of the same supporting actors reappearing again and again, but none of that really matters.. to be honest you could edit all of the films together into one really long and amazing film, it's difficult as it is to remember which sequence belongs to which film. But then, don't most great directors make pretty much the same film throughout their careers? Ozu, Mizoguchi, Hitchcock, Hawks, Bergman, so it's not so much a flaw..
But, saying that, if you do want a guide as to the most acclaimed ones, then Top Hat, Swing Time and Shall We Dance, would probably be the ones to go for first. And apart from the odd shock of a 'blacked up' Fred Astaire, they're absolutely timeless.
But ONCE Ginger was 25, gorgeous and had fluffy shampoo in her hair. ONCE Fred was sitting at the piano, serenading her with a brand-new song, ONCE written by none others than Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields. Once Ginger & Fred floated cheek to cheek over the dance floor and the "charm about them carried us through to heaven, and all the cares and worries we had through the week seemed to vanish".
We were bitten by the dance bug and fell under its spell forever. Europe had Verdi, Mozart and Beethoven, our geniuses were Kern, Porter, Gershwin, Rodgers or Berlin. Shakespeare had written immortal sonnets, we memorized and recited poems like Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale" at the tender age of 11. But it were the lyrics of Lorenz Hart, Dorothy Fields, Cole P. and Ira G. we LOVED more than anything else and we whispered and whistled these gems while dancing with our sweethearts. Debonair hoofers in our delusion, we gawky amateurs actually turned into quite lithe beings in the end. And we if we ever acquired elegance and poise, we didn't owe it to anyone but Fred & Ginger, who showed the world that dancing is more than mere acrobatics or slinky twirling, their art just oozing grace, sophistication and spirit.
But that was once upon a time, very long ago. Gone are the likes of the great songwriters, the halcyon days of Americana - passé. How small and utterly improbable that time frame was, in hindsight, when all those talents came together to create such movie and music magic. When in a Manhattan studio Lady Day and Teddy Wilson would record those brilliant songs viewers themselves had whistled on their way home from the movie theatre, taking a chance of an occasional dance step up and down the curb, and turn them into works of genius for good. When people bought a movie ticket knowing that their world would be a richer place afterwards.
Someday I too (or what's left of me) will be gone, as will this review. But maybe there's the one young enthusiast who bought this marvelous box-set on account of these lines. You could tie me to a chair and play these pictures in an eternal loop and still I wouldn't grow tired of them. And I know that many people feel the same, how consoling. Thanks to modern media like the DVD, these gems are now available to new audiences, discerning adolescents and old farts alike, as good as it gets and quite affordable at that.
"Someday when I feel awfully low. When the world is cold, I will feel a glow just thinking of them ... and the way they looked the nights we watched them."
Get this magic box. We'll never see the likes of them again!
Here all 10 movie pictures Ginger and Fred did together in chronological order.
This set comprises 8 of them; it does not include "Roberta" and "The Barkleys of Broadway". However, these two films are fortunately available individually.
1. Flying Down to Rio (1933)
+ Dolores del Rio, Gene Raymond, Raul Roulien, Eric Blore, Franklin Pangborn
"Flying Down to Rio" / "Music Makes Me" / "Orchids in Moonlight" / "Carioca"
2. The Gay Divorcee (1934)
+ Alice Brady, Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore; look for Betty Grable as dancer
"The Continental" / "Don't Let It Bother You" / " Let's K-nock K-nees" / "Needle in a Haystack" / "Night and Day"
3. Roberta (1935)
+ Irene Dunne, Randolph Scott, Helen Westley, look fast for Lucille Ball as model
"Yesterdays" / "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" / "Let's Begin" / "You're Devastating"/ "Something Had To Happen" / "The Touch of Your Hand".
4. Top Hat (1935)
+ Edward Everett Horton, Helen Broderick, Eric Blore; Lucille Ball as flower shop clerk
"No Strings" / "Isn't This a Lovely Day" / "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails" / "Cheek to Cheek" / "The Piccolino"
5. Follow the Fleet (1936)
+ Randolph Scott, Betty Grable, Lucille Ball as Kitty Collins
"We Saw The Sea" / "Let Yourself Go" / "Get Thee Behind Me Satan" / "I'd Rather Lead A Band" / "Let Yourself Go" / "I'm Putting all My Eggs in One Basket" / "But Where Are You?" / "Let's Face the Music and Dance"
6. Swing Time (1936)
+ Victor Moore, Helen Broderick, Eric Blore, Georges Metaxa
"Pick Yourself Up" / The Way You Look Tonight" / "Waltz In Swing Time" / "A Fine Romance" / "Bojangles Of Harlem" / "Never Gonna Dance"
7. Shall We Dance (1937)
+ Edward Everett Horton, Eric Blore
"They All Laughed" / "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" / "Beginner's Luck" / "They Can't Take That Away from Me" / "Hoctor's Ballet" / French Ballet Class" / "Rumba Sequence" / " Slap That Bass" / "Dance of the Waves" / "Waltz of the Red Balloons" / "Walking the Dog" / "Graceful and Elegant"
8. Carefree (1938)
+ Ralph Bellamy, Luella Gear, Jack Carson, Franklin Pangborn; + Hattie McDaniel
"I Used to Be Color Blind" / "The Yam" / "Change Partners" / "Since They Turned 'Loch Lomond' into Swing" / "The Night Is Filled With Music"
9. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)
+ Edna May Oliver, Walter Brennan, Lew Fields, Etienne Girardot
"By the Light of the Silvery Moon" / "Only When You're in My Arms" / "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee" / "Too Much Mustard" / "Rose Room" / "Très jolie" / "Little Brown Jug" / "Dengozo" / "La Marseillaise" / "King Chanticleer" / "The Syncopated Walk" / "You're Here and I'm Here" / "Chicago" / "Hello, Frisco, Hello" / "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" / "Take Me Back to New York Town" / "Hello, Hello, Who's Your Lady Friend" / "Cecile Waltz" / "Nights of Gladness" / "Missouri Waltz"
10. The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)
+ Oscar Levant, Billie Burke, Gale Robbins
"Please Don't Monkey with Broadway" / "I've Got My Eyes on You" / "Jukebox Dance" / "I Concentrate on You" / "Begin the Beguine"
The movies in the first box have introductions by Ava Astaire, Fred's daughter.
All discs have English subtitles for the hard-of-hearing.
P.S. In case you're looking for other great recordings of the songs above, feel free to leave a comment. I'd be glad to answer your requests.
Production in these DVDs is also good, so all in all and for the price, I doubt you'll do better.
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