Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire
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ASTAIRE & ROGERS DO THE YAM
Movie of the Week: CAREFREE
Astaire and Rogers are dancing together in a new Berlin musical
LIFE Magazine August 22, 1938, pages 28-30
It was five years ago that America first became Astaire and Rogers-conscious. The picture was called Flying Down to Rio. In it, for one memorable number, were a lanky young man and a lithe young girl who danced with a perfection never seen on the screen before. Fred Astaire, the lanky young man who had won international fame dancing with his sister, Adele, the present Lady Cavendish, didn't think so. In fact, he was so upset by his fleet-footed image that he begged RKO not to release the picture. But the "Carioca," performed by him and his blond partner, became a dance sensation, and critics put the team down as something to watch.
The blond girl went on to other movies in which she acted straight romantic leads. For though Ginger Rogers had begun by winning a Charleston contest, her real ambition was to be a dramatic actress. Through years of chorus-girl jobs, vaudeville tours and musical comedies, she clung to this ambition.
After Rio, Fred Astaire deserted Hollywood for a year. Then, in 1934, the two were teamed again in The Gay Divorcee and danced this picture into a box-office hit. Roberta followed. With Irving Berlin as their tune-maker, they next turned out Top Hat (1935) and Follow the Fleet (1936), the first of which broke box-office records, established them as moviedom's greatest money-making team.
But after Swing Time (1936) and Shall We Dance? (1937), Ginger insisted on breaking the team up. In the last 16 months she has acted straight dramatic leads in Stage Door, Vivacious Lady and Having a Wonderful Time (LIFE, Sept. 27, May 9, June 27). None of these, nor Fred Astaire's solitary Damsel in Distress equaled the hits they made together. Now for the eighth time, they are reunited with a new dance, a new score by Berlin, a new and funnier plot.
The nimble feet that made the "Carioca" and the "Continental" famous, now introduce the "Yam," which you will soon see on U.S. dance floors.
The world's greatest box-office team is joined again under a contract which binds Ginger Rogers to two dance pictures, two straight leads this year.
THIS IS HOW ASTAIRE AND ROGERS DANCE THE "YAM"
Yam promenade: Astaire steps forward on left foot, strikes right heel at side of left foot. Ginger follows.
Yam stomp: Astaire stomps right foot in front of left foot and steps forward on left foot. Then he places right foot to right side and closes left foot to right foot. The dance suggests the antics of southern Negroes selling hot-yams.
Yam toe tap: Astaire jumps on his left foot, turns right toe in, taps it. He then jumps on right foot, taps left.
Yam whirl: Astaire hops on right toe, turns backward with left foot, stamps his right heel, repeats turn.
Yam roll: Astaire and Rogers both fall forward on the right foot, tap the left toe back, step back on the left foot, slide right foot to the right and close left foot to right foot.
Yam pirouette: Astaire crosses his right foot over his left foot, turns completely around to the left, finishes with his feet crossed and taps his left toe at right side of right foot. Ginger does the opposite.
Yam finale: Starting as show in the Yam whirl, Astaire steps back on left foot. Both bend knees. The Ginger gives a little spring and he swings her into the air over his lifted right foot.
Psychoanalysis enters the musical comedy
The seven previous Astaire and Rogers pictures all had plots as light as feather down. Carefree, the eighth, is scarcely and heavier, but it does give its dancing stars a chance at the straight acting they both enjoy. In it Fred Astaire is a psychiatrist and Ginger Rogers a stage and radio star whom he undertakes to treat. Such modern therapeutics as psychoanalysis, such fashionable sports as bicycling and skeet-shooting are ingredients of a lunatic love story in which Astaire finally leads his dancing partner to the alter (right).
Meanwhile, they do four dance numbers of which the "Yam," conceived by Astaire and set to music by Berlin, promises to create a new vogue. Berlin song hits, already popularized over the radio and displayed in song shops, are I Used To Be Color Blind, The Night is Filled With Music, Change Partners and The Yam.
To psychiatrist Astaire comes Ginger, though she doesn't want to be treated and he doesn't want to treat her. He is trying to help a friend whom she won't marry.
A bicycle rendezvous results, when he learns that Ginger considers him a quack, psychoanalysis nonsense. He is thrown on a hill, wins her over, feeds her indigestible to make her dream.
Her dreams are not about the man she is to marry, but about the psychiatrist. They dance together on a dream lake to Irving Berlin's music. Next morning she is afraid to tell him the truth.
Put under ether to release her inhibitions, Ginger flings her arms around her doctor. He thinks this is merely an indication of Ginger's inhibited love for his friend.
Now uninhibited, Ginger goes berserk. She borrows a policeman's club, starts a riot at a broadcast. To straighten things out, Astaire hypnotizes her, tells her he is a scoundrel and should be shot.
Struck by a terrible suspicion, he psychoanalyzes himself. He discovers he loves Ginger, wants her not for his friend but for himself. When he returns to the office to tell her so, she is gone.
When he finds her at the country club, she acts under his hypnotic suggestion, denounces him as a scoundrel and shoots at him with a skeet gun. He disarms her.
An injunction forbidding him to see Ginger is issued when Friend Ralph Bellamy discovers the truth. Astaire still seeks vainly to see her, release her from his hypnotic spell, tell her of his love.
At the wedding he tries to awaken Ginger with a blow, but hasn't the heart. Bellamy lunges at him, hits the bride. Knocked out of her trance, she admits her love for Astaire. They are married.
© 1938 LIFE Magazine
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