Sunday, December 29, 2013

"All that I know is you'd be hard to replace..."

Today’s post will be my last one celebrating Fred and Ginger’s anniversary, and I’ll admit that initially I had no clue what more I could write. I tried thinking of many different things, but it wasn’t until I was watching ROBERTA a few nights ago that I figured something out—I’d write a list of my favorite things about our favorite dancing duo’s films. So, without further ado, behold The List.

What I Love about Fred and Ginger’s Films:

1. The dancing
I know, I know, this goes without saying. But creating this list without including their dancing would’ve been sacrilegious. Their dancing was what helped seal the deal with audiences 80 years ago, and without it, who knows what would’ve happened to the movie musical. There are not enough words in the world to describe everything I feel about their dances, so I’m not even going to try. You’ve all read plenty about it in my earlier posts, anyway.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

"There may be trouble ahead, but while there's music and moonlight and love and romance, let's face the music and dance..."

To honor the 80th anniversary of the pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, I wrote a post about the origins of their teaming, so today, I decided to post my personal list of Fred and Ginger’s films in order of my least favorite to favorite. This was a bit of a challenge for me, because I really do love all of their films, just in different ways. When I started this venture, I thought I had it all figured out, but then I went through a curious phase where all I wanted to watch was FOLLOW THE FLEET for about two weeks, which helped change my perspective on it a little bit. Anyway, please let me know what you think of my list and feel free to share yours.

 10. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)
Fred and Ginger play the Castles, a nonfictional dancing duo that took the world by storm in the early 20th century. The movie takes the audience through the whole relationship of the Castles, from when they first met, their successes, Vernon joining World War I, and the death of Vernon after his plane crashes during a flying drill. I have to admit that I’ve only seen this film twice. Maybe it’s because it’s based on real-life people, or maybe it’s because the ending is pretty sad. Anyway, the film is still a good one, Fred gets to play a more serious role, and you never want to miss a dance by these two. Plus, this picture is the last one from their RKO series, so it’s worth watching just to see where it fits into their film canon.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Austerlitz and McMath.

Frederick Austerlitz and Virginia McMath were just two young kids at first, both setting their sights on fame in vaudeville, Broadway, and finally Hollywood. But not together, of course. No, Fred started an act with his sister, Adele, who was considered the star of the two. Together they studied dancing and singing until they were ready to debut their act—after a small name change of “Austerlitz” to “Astaire.”

 Shortly after that, their father got them a major contract with the famous Orpheum Circuit. Adele and Fred continued polishing and creating their act, slowly moving up the ranks. Fred even developed a friendship with George Gershwin, one which would serve both of their future careers. In the 1920s, the Astaires were on Broadway, and Fred was gaining notice as “the greatest tap-dancer in the world,” as quoted by Robert Benchley in 1930. 1932 brought the break-up of the team. Adele was going to get married, but Fred knew he had to keep going, especially while his star was still hot. And so, to Broadway and a show called “The Gay Divorce” he went…

Virginia, nicknamed “Ginger” as a kid and adopting her stepfather’s name “Rogers,” had a slightly different path. After winning a Charleston dance contest, she toured the theater circuits until she debuted on Broadway in 1929. She was quickly put into the Gershwins’ “Girl Crazy” and got to introduce the now-standard “Embraceable You” and "But Not for Me."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Fred and Ginger!

On December 29th this year, there’s something pretty magical to celebrate: the 80th anniversary of the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers pairing. On that day 80 years ago, FLYING DOWN TO RIO was released and movies were never the same. To celebrate the big day, I’m going to be posting some more on our favorite twosome throughout the month, so be sure to check back in soon. Until then, I’ll leave you with some quotes from Fred and “Feathers,” just in case you didn’t already love them enough.
“All the girls I ever danced with thought they couldn’t do it, but of course they could. So they always cried. All except Ginger. No no, Ginger never cried.” – Fred

“Ginger had never danced with a partner before. She faked it an awful lot. She couldn’t tap and she couldn’t do this and that…but Ginger had style and talent and improved as she went along. She got so that after a while everyone else who danced with me looked wrong.” – Fred


“I adored Fred. We were good friends. Our only problem is that we never aspired to be any kind of a team. We didn't want to be Abbott and Costello. We thought of ourselves as individuals. We didn't intend to be another Frick and Frack. [smiling, after a pause] But it happened anyway, didn't it? And I'll be forever grateful it did.” – Ginger

"We had fun and it shows. True, we were never bosom buddies off the screen; we were different people with different interests. We were only a couple on film." -- Ginger

"Ginger was brilliantly effective. She made everything work for her. Actually she made things very fine for both of us and she deserves most of the credit for our success." – Fred

“I adore the man. I always have adored him. It was the most fortunate thing that ever happened to me, being teamed with Fred: he was everything a little starry-eyed girl from a small town ever dreamed of.” – Ginger

And as a bonus: “Believe me, Ginger was great. She contributed her full fifty percent in making them such a great team. She could follow Fred as if one brain was thinking. She blended with his every step and mood immaculately. He was able to do dances on screen that would have been impossible to risk if he hadn't had a partner like Ginger - as skillful as she was attractive.” – Edward Everett Horton