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Fred Astaire

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HOLIDAY INN

In 1942, Astaire competed with Bing Crosby for the spotlight and the girls (Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia Dale) in HOLIDAY INN.  Produced at Paramount (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.

Click here"I'll Capture Her Heart" (clip) from HOLIDAY INN (1942) sung with Bing Crosby (a .MP3 file).

HOLIDAY INN

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 SKY'S THE LIMIT

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 INN (1942).
  • "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

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 once again, 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.

BLUE SKIES

Click hereHear Fred 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 plug-ins page.)

ZIEGFELD FOLLIES

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."

Click here"The Babbitt and the Bromide" sung with Gene Kelly (a .MP3 file courtesy Rhino).

Footnotes:

  1. Taylor, John Russell.  "Astaire."  Films and Filming (August 1987): 21.

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Last updated: October 19, 2010.
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