Poster of the Day: The Gay Divorcee (1934)

Gay-Divorcee-RKO--1934Danish Poster by Erik Fredriksen (source: 50 Watts) for the Gay Divorcee (1934), starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in their second film together (plus an early appearance by Betty Grable).




Film of the Day: EASTER PARADE (1948)

Easter-Parade-Poster-2FOR OBVIOUS REASONS!


A: “YOU DID!!”

Easter_Parade_stillFred Astaire plays the big-headed performer who takes on naive Judy Garland as his new dance partner to make his former partner jealous and to prove he can make a star of anyone…

The highest grossing musical of 1948 – and the most financially successful film for both Garland and Astaire, Easter Parade is best remembered for its ‘We’re a Couple of Swells’ dance routine:

Despite Astaire’s part originally being intended for Gene Kelly, The New York Times described Fred as having “no peer”  – a belief I’ve personally always held. Certainly, the dance routines aren’t amongst his most ebullient, but they have all the characteristics of the best of Astaire: that trademark gracefulness (mixed with screwball humour), that extension of body and elongation of movement, all so typical of Astaire and that always make even the simplest of routines a marvel to behold:

Interestingly, unfortunately and unfairly, the same New York Times review described Judy Garland as “a competent trooper, nimble on her feet and professionally sound vocally…” But everybody wanted to work with Judy – both Irving Berlin and Fred Astaire agreed to the picture because it meant the chance of working with her. The former saw her talent as bordering genius, and the latter would later remember her as “the greatest performer who ever liver – or probably ever will live…” Quite a complement for one described by critics as merely “competent’ and “professionally sound, vocally.”

Also, interesting is the deleted scene below, which is not only probably the best song Garland was given in the whole film, but also shows her in a whole other light, perhaps too hot a light; a light the studio weren’t ready to see her – Andy Hardy’s wholesome squeeze – in. Another injustice to add to the pile of Judy-injustices? Well, to be fair, perhaps it was also down to a certain lack of ebullience in Garland’s performance who, at this time, was already having serious alcohol problems together with addictions to sleeping pills and morphine. Her condition was frail and she had attempted suicide at the end of her previous picture, The Pirate, directed by husband, Vincente Minnelli. Apparently, he was originally meant to direct Easter Parade also, but Judy’s shrink didn’t think it would do her nerves any good to work with him again so soon.

Even when her heart was clearly not in it, which may well have been the case in this deleted routine, she’s still a painful delight to watch:


Annex - Garland, Judy (Easter Parade)_01


posted by Dixie Turner

The Suit; The Dancing Feet; The Legs: The Band Wagon (1953)


So proclaims the almighty trailer, and LO! Here we are, blinking like newborn babes…

Now that the sun shines once again (global warming, anyone?), and the glow is restored to our hearts, we can discard wetsuits and snorkels and walk around town with a spring in our step, and our eyes, yes our eyes see in COLOUR once more. Where once London town was soley a mix of grey, sullen brutalist architecture and Dickensian dark corners now there is GREEN (a Charisse-y chartreuse?) and RED (the spangling dress of a femme fatale?) and we at Video City turn like sunflowers to our screens and we reach and lift towards the source for we have seen that there is no colour like the vibrant glory of:

band_wagon_pub_photoTHE BAND WAGON (1953) – dir. Vincente Minnelli (Gigi, American in Paris, Bad and the Beautiful).

A musical comedy about an aging Broadway star (Fred Astaire) who hopes to revive his career with one more smash hit until the pretentious producer threatens to ruin it all in an attempt to make ‘high art’. Cue the ballet dancer to clash (oh so beautifully) with Fred’s down-to-earth tap…

Just as much fun, nay, perhaps even more fun than Singing in the Rain (maybe even just because you haven’t seen it a hundred times with your gran, chewing over Christmas cake, with a cracker-crown on your head, trying to get into the spirit of it). Just as beautiful, bold and brassy; just as vibrant and jazzy, nay, perhaps more so than Singing in the Rain, because a) this has the Minnelli touch and b) this has Fred Astaire and, let’s face it, no-one cocked a hip quite like him (no, not even John Wayne) and no-one’s shoes were ever shinier…:


Plus, Happy Birthday Cyd Charisse. Your legs began at your armpits, just where they should.

cyd_charisse-Bandwagon_2“Cyd Charisse is a terrific dancer, a wonderful partner. She has precision plus – beautiful dynamite, I call it … When you danced with her, you stayed danced with her.'”
Fred Astaire, Steps in Time (1959)

Screen-Shot-2014-03-04-at-10.56.55-PM-600x375“She looked like a woman who liked to shock priests with wicked confessions.”
Gene Kelly

posted by Dixie Turner