Top 5 Dance Routines I Would Love To Learn

Well, I’ve made it to 250 posts!  An occasion that, in some respects, demands a special post.  So, as you can see, I decided to revisit a once-pondered idea that I mentioned back in my Top 10 Dance Routines post, and give you a list of various dance routines I would love to learn.  Of course, considering the subject, a little personal background should precede the list.  I will readily admit, it was when I started watching some of the classics (especially the musicals) back when I was a teenager that got me into dance.  Watching Gene Kelly, I first got interested in tap dancing one summer.  After the summer (and the class) was over, I stopped, but as I started watching digging into some of Fred Astaire’s films, I went back for more! Not only did I resume taking lessons in tap, but I also started took up ballroom dancing (and later threw in some ballet, too).  I was lucky in finding some studios where the owners gave me the opportunity, first for my senior solo, and then beyond, to do some small solo and partnered routines to some of the various songs from these movies for the dance recitals.  Obviously, we generally did new routines to these songs, which were always fun, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit, I wish I could pull off a lot of the dance routines that some of these classic film stars did.  So, here’s a list of the dance routines I wish I could do.

1.”Sluefoot,” Daddy Long Legs (1955), Original dancers: Fred Astaire, Leslie Caron

This is one of those various attempts at a dance craze that Fred Astaire did in some of his films.  With its combination of tap and ballroom (and a bit of jitterbug thrown in), this one has always looked like fun!  At this point, the biggest reason I never did do this one is mainly because I couldn’t find the music (which is part of the fun) on CD, and I haven’t had the technical know-how to get it any other way.

2.”The Yam,” Carefree (1938), Original dancers: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers

Another attempted dance craze.  Again, the combination of tap and ballroom appeals to me (and I LOVE that song)!  Plus, throw in the lifts that they do to end the routine as they go from one table to the next in quick succession, and it’s easy to see why I would love to do this one!

3.”Carioca,” Flying Down To Rio (1933), Original dancers: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, others

With this one, I do have to break with the original idea somewhat.  On the rest of these, I wish I could do the actual routine.  This one, with it’s changing camera angles and formations, could only really be done as a video.  Since I prefer Fred Astaire’s way of doing things, with minimal camera angle changes and focus on the dancers’ full bodies, I would have to do this one with a different routine.  Honestly, other than that, my biggest problems with this one, considering the emphasis on the “business with the foreheads” as the movie puts it (one of the film’s pre-Code elements), would be my height (at 6’4″, I’ve tended to tower over most of my partners), not to mention having a partner that would be comfortable with the idea!  Still, I can’t deny I’d love to dance to this one!

4.”Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” Lovely To Look At (1952), Original dancers: Marge and Gower Champion

Ok, so if I get technical, I have done a partnered dance routine to this song. (Considering how beautiful the music is, can you blame me?)   It was, admittedly, far different from what was done in the movie (but still a lot of fun, and, considering I had a talented and beautiful partner to work with, I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything).  Honestly, the only way I would improve on it would be to do the dance from the film itself (and considering the two romantic kisses, on principle alone, I wouldn’t do it with any gal unless I was at least dating them).  But, I can dream, can’t I?

5.”Waltz In Swing Time,” Swing Time (1936), Original dancers: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers

More ballroom/tap dancing.  I will admit, of the five, this is the slot that is the most likely to change depending on how I feel at the time, but I will still admit, with yet another wonderful tune (and great choreography), I would love to be able to recreate this routine as well!

Well, that’s the list!  These dances are ones I would willingly admit I wish I could pull off.  Admittedly, especially during this pandemic, I’m dreaming, since these are all partnered dances, and I wouldn’t be willing to do them at the risk of my own health or that of my dance partners.  But, I can dream (which is why I decided to do this post for the 250 mark instead of waiting for 300).  I hope you enjoyed it, and I’d certainly love to hear what, if any, dance routines from the classics any of you would love to pull off if you had the opportunity!

2018: Year In Review + Top 11 Movies Watched

Update on 12/23/2019: I hadn’t planned on doing anymore editing of this one, but since I decided to make my 2019 list a Year In Review, I’ve decided to come back and do the same for 2018. In looking back, 2018 saw me deciding, just for the fun of it, to go through and “review” many of the movies I watch for my friends. With their support, I started out with a few then-recent purchases, posting those reviews as notes on my Facebook profile. After starting to see how quickly they were going to pile up, I then created my own FB fan page, where I moved those written reviews over to. On there, starting with my review of Going Hollywood, I started doing the reviews as videos. Then, after a while, I decided to start a blog, and this site was born! Now home to my written reviews, along with exclusive stuff, like my posts on screen teams, comparing films, film series, not to mention some of my lists (including my Top 40 Christmas Movies list), It’s been a work-in-progress as I try to refine how I am doing everything.

On the movie side of things, as I said, I started out doing a few then-recent purchases, before switching to the filmographies of various movie stars. I started out with plans to review movies from George Burns and Gracie Allen, along with Eleanor Powell, but, after previously reviewing King Of Jazz and throwing in a few of his other films, I decided to add in Bing Crosby, too. And while I had planned to take a break from those reviews to focus in on Christmas movies in December (or rather, for the days before Christmas day itself), I decided to break even earlier and focus on a few film noirs for the month of November (or, rather, “Noir-vember”). Of course, I also focused in on comments about screen teams like George Burns & Gracie Allen and Bing Crosby & Fred Astaire, plus comparing My Man Godfrey and Merrily We Live, as well as my thoughts on the two Bob Hope Paleface films and Bing Crosby’s turns as Father O’Malley in Going My Way and The Bells Of St. Mary’s.

Update on 8/26/2019: originally published on 11/22/2018, it was my plan to leave this post alone, and do it every year on Thanksgiving. Since then, I have decided to do my first edit of “Top Disc Releases Of The Year” posts on Thanksgiving, and do my “Top 10 Movies Watched In The Year” posts just after my final review of the year. Since I hadn’t included the remaining movies I reviewed in 2018 after publishing this post, I am including the one movie that would have made the list and, instead of dropping the last movie on the list, make this a one-time “Top 11 Movies Watched In The Year” list.

And here’s my list, for what I think are some of the best movies I watched in the year 2018 (and reviewed).  Admittedly, this list mainly includes titles I have watched and reviewed since I started doing this (otherwise, the list would be quite different).  These are all movies I enjoyed, and would recommend to anybody that is interested!  And if any of these appeal to you, be sure to click on the movie titles to go to Amazon!

  1. Blue Skies (1946) (Universal Studios, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire team up for a second to prove that they are “A Couple of Song and Dance Men,” and Fred proves shows us what it would be like to see him dancing with a chorus of dancers as good as he is (because they are all him!) in this musical, with the wonderful music of Irving Berlin to support them!  Full review here.
  2. Carefree (1938) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The eighth of ten movies to co-star Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, this screwball comedy mainly features Ginger Rogers, and shows just how well she can handle comedy!  And of course, what would an Astaire-Rogers movie be without some dancing as well, with music provided by composer Irving Berlin!  Full review here.
  3. Follow the Fleet (1936) (Warner Home Video, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The fifth Astaire-Rogers movie features Fred Astaire in the navy.  He is joined by Randolph Scott, and Ginger Rogers and Harriet Hilliard (Nelson) are their love interests.  Features music from Irving Berlin, including the haunting “Let’s Face The Music and Dance.”  Full review here.
  4. The Sky’s The Limit (1943) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • A wartime musical featuring Fred Astaire as a flying ace trying to go incognito to enjoy his ten-day leave.  He meets a photographer played by Joan Leslie, who wants to be do more for the war effort than just fluff pieces on local celebrities.  Features one of Fred’s best tap solos set to the song “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road).”  Full review here.
  5. Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) (Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic tale of Adam Pontipee (Howard Keel) coming to town looking for a bride, and finding Milly (Jane Powell).  Upon meeting his rough-housing six brothers, she helps refine them to help their prospects.  And of course, who can ever forget the barn-raising dance, one of the best dances ever put to film!  Full review here.
  6. A Damsel In Distress (1937) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • In his first movie alone since being partnered with Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire is joined by comedy (and dance!) team George Burns and Gracie Allen in a musical supported by the music of George and Ira Gerswhin.  Full review here.
  7. White Christmas (1954) (Paramount, Blu-ray, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The classic Christmas musical featuring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as a show business team, both onstage and behind the scenes.  When they, along with their new girlfriends played by Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, run into their former general, now running a failing inn, they decide to help save his inn.  A wonderful movie to watch around Christmastime, but just as fun the rest of the year, too!  Full review here.
  8. Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940) Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • The king of rhythm (Fred Astaire) and the queen of tap (Eleanor Powell) team up in this movie about a pair of Broadway hopefuls, one of whom gets a big part due to a case of mistaken identity.  Full review here.
  9. Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) (DVD not currently available but available as digital copy/streaming on Amazon, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Fun movie starring Eleanor Powell as a hopeful dancer wanting to make good on Broadway, supported by several wonderful tunes from the song-writing team of Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed.  Full review here.
  10. Honolulu (1939) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Robert Young stars in a “Prince and the Pauper”-type role, as two different men with an uncanny resemblance, while Eleanor Powell does the Hawaiian hula her way, with support from George Burns and Gracie Allen!  Full review here.
  11. Little Nellie Kelly (1940) (Warner Archive Collection, DVD, My Rating: 10/10)
    • Judy Garland pulls double duty as a mother and daughter from Ireland, does “Singin’ in the Rain” her way and more in this classic based on the George M. Cohan show.  Full review here.

Honorable mentions: The Jazz Singer (1927) (Warner Home Video, Blu-ray and DVD), Merrily We Live (1938) (Classicflix, Blu-ray and DVD), My Man Godfrey (1936) (Criterion Collection, Blu-ray and DVD)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Carefree (1938)

Here we are again, for the eighth Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, the 1938 musical/ screwball comedy Carefree.

As to the plot, we find Stephen Arden (Ralph Bellamy) coming to his psychiatrist friend Dr. Tony Flagg (Fred Astaire) because his fiancée Amanda Cooper (Ginger Rogers) keeps calling off their engagement, even though she says she does want to marry him.  Stephen convinces Amanda to see Dr. Flagg, and she ends up falling for him (particularly after she dreams of him), although she doesn’t quite want to tell him right away.  Now, after several experiments, including using an anesthetic on one occasion and hypnosis on another to convince her to marry Stephen, Dr. Flagg realizes that he loves Amanda, too.

Now that we are past the plot, we’ll get into what I think of the movie.  As an Astaire-Rogers movie, a lot of the fun is watching them dance together.  For me, this movie is even better since the music is provided by composer Irving Berlin, which includes the songs “Since They Turned Loch Lomond Into Swing,” “I Used To Be Colorblind,” “The Yam” and “Change Partners.”

Now, “Since They Turned Loch Lomond Into Swing” is Fred’s big solo dance for the movie.  Done at a golf range, he starts in mainly to impress Ginger Rogers’ character, by playing the harmonica.  After that, he proves that he can dance and play golf at the same time!

“I Used To Be Colorblind” is used for a dream sequence, which partners Fred and Ginger.  The sad part about this is that the original plan was to film this sequence in color, but it was so expensive to film anything in color at this time, that the higher-ups decided against it.  I don’t care, black and white or in color, this is still a fun dance.  And most of the dance itself is done in slow motion, which also allows particular emphasis for the kiss that ends the routine.  I’ve heard it said that this was their first onscreen romantic kiss (as opposed to happening offscreen, or whatever).

“The Yam” was an attempt at a new dance craze.  Much to my dismay, it failed.  I don’t really know why, because for me, it has always looked like SO MUCH FUN.  Sung by Ginger, with Fred joining her for the dance.

“Change Partners” is another romantic duet.  This time, Fred is “controlling” Ginger through hypnosis, started somehow by him singing it to her inside on the dance floor with everybody else.  I don’t really know how it is supposed to work, and I don’t really care, as it is a wonderful dance routine!

As I said before when I discussed the movie I Married A Witch, THIS is my favorite screwball comedy.  I’ll admit, maybe not everything in this movie makes sense.  I mean, I don’t understand how Fred’s character is supposed to be a successful psychiatrist, considering how much he seems to be keep mishandling everything with Ginger’s character.  My own opinion is that this is Ginger’s movie, as she proves herself very adept at screwball comedy, whether it be all the things she does while under the influence of the anesthetic, or for that matter, when she is still in a trance from being hypnotised.

This is one of the movies I have reviewed that I have a very high opinion of, and one I would definitely recommend if you get the chance to see it!  The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

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