Original Vs. Remake: Ninotchka (1939) Vs. Silk Stockings (1957)

Now that we’re back for another edition of “Original Vs. Remake,” let’s take a look at the 1939 comedy Ninotchka and its 1957 musical remake, Silk Stockings. Since the two plots have enough differences, I’ll just borrow the two plot descriptions from each of the individual reviews.

Ninotchka: Three Russian commissars (Sig Rumann, Felix Bressart and Alexander Granach) come to Paris with the intention of selling jewelry that had once belonged to the Grand Duchess Swana (Ina Claire). However, Swana is living in Paris, and she learns about the jewels through a former Russian nobleman working at the hotel the commissars are staying at. She sends her lover, Count Leon d’Algout (Melvyn Douglas), to delay the sale of the jewelry in the hope that she can reclaim it. Leon helps introduce the commissars to some of the pleasures of Paris and capitalism, but special envoy Nina Ivanovna Yakushova, or Ninotchka (Greta Garbo) is sent to to take over the case. Leon accidentally meets her on the street, and is instantly smitten (although at first neither realizes who the other is). Once she overhears his telephone call with one of the commissars, they realize who they are with. Leon still likes her, and keeps trying to go out with her, which becomes easier after he is able to make her laugh and loosen up. Swana sees all this going on, and jealously takes advantage of Ninotchka when Ninotchka comes back to her hotel room drunk and leaves the safe containing the jewels open. Swana agrees to relinquish her rights to the jewelry if Ninotchka would immediately return to Russia, which she reluctantly agrees to do. (Length: one hour, fifty-two minutes)

Silk Stockings: Movie producer Steve Canfield (Fred Astaire) wants Russian composer Peter Boroff’s (Wim Sonneveld) music for his new movie, and tries to help him stay in Paris. The Russian government is displeased with this, and sends three commissars (Jules Munshin, Peter Lorre and Joseph Buloff) to bring him back. When Steve distracts them with wine, women and song, special envoy Nina Yoschenko (Cyd Charisse) is sent to try again. She proves to be more resilient, but as the attraction between the two develops, even she manages to loosen, and Steve proposes to her. However, when Nina, Peter and the three commissars hear how Peter’s music has been changed for the movie, they are all offended and they all return to Russia. (Length: one hour, fifty-eight minutes)

This is another instance where it’s not really worth noting the similarities. With Silk Stockings being a remake of Ninotchka (with a Broadway musical in between the two film versions), there is definitely some similar dialogue. We do get George Tobias in both movies, although he plays different parts in each movie (and neither are very long). But really, not much else beyond the very basic story is the same.

So let’s get some of those obligatory surface differences out of the way. First, Ninotchka = comedy, Silk Stockings = musical. Secondly, outside of the leading lady’s character having the same first name (and nickname), none of the characters share names between the two movies. Thirdly, Ninotchka had the Russians coming to sell some jewelry to buy food for the Russian people, with the sale being delayed by the original owner and her lover. Silk Stockings has the Russians coming after a Russian composer who is seeking asylum and providing music for a movie producer, who is trying to prevent him being taken back to Russia.

There are certainly some differences in characterization, but the three commissars do seem to be a bit more vivid. In Ninotchka, when we first meet them, they are already showing signs of wanting to enjoy some of the benefits of staying in a capitalistic society. Instead of staying in the hotel their government had already arranged for, they are arguing themselves into a better and classier hotel, and decide to go with the royal suite, at least partly because it has a safe for them to store the jewels in. In Silk Stockings, since they are coming after Boroff the composer, it’s up to Fred’s Steve Canfield to distract them with the glitz and glamour, almost like a devil who knows how to tempt some of the people he has to deal with and keep them from their mission.

Another major difference, to me, is how the two movies treat the Russians. While Ninotchka is intended as a comedy and a satire of communism, the Russians are not being portrayed in a completely negative light. Sure, the three commissars want to enjoy the benefits of capitalism away from their own country and we see some of the problems of communism itself (including the reference to the then-recent mass trials that resulted in “fewer and better Russians”), but the fact remains that they are in Paris to sell the jewelry to buy more food for their people. Which really puts the Grand Duchess Swana in a bad light, as she just wants her jewels and doesn’t really seem to care at all what happens to the Russian people. And, to a degree, Melvyn Douglas’s Count Leon comes around to the idea of communism, at most, being frustrated with the Russian government for denying him a visa to come and see Ninotchka when she goes back to Russia. Silk Stockings goes a different route, not portraying them as well. In between them trying to force composer Peter Boroff to return (and the three commissars), the political philosophy is never embraced by Fred Astaire’s Steve Canfield (which in some respects injects a bit of sexism and American disregard for other cultures into the story, considering it is used as this story’s excuse to separate the two lovers and have her return to Russia of her own free will). Personally, I suspect this change was partly due to how society changed between the two movies, in between the start of the Cold War and the anti-communist feelings that had swept the country.

As to which movie I prefer? Silk Stockings. It’s been the version of the story that I’ve seen the most (and for many more years). While I do think Greta Garbo was the better actress (both overall and in this role), I still can’t deny that, for me, Fred Astaire brings a magic of his own, that I have enjoyed for a number of years. Not to mention my opinion that I much prefer watching Cyd’s Ninotchka transformation between Fred dancing with her to “All Of You” and Cyd’s solo dance to the title tune as she changes from her drab outfit into a dress. The music by Cole Porter is catchy, the dancing is fun to watch, and it’s just overall easier to sit down and watch Silk Stockings. I can’t deny there are some things that require either seeing Ninotchka or at least some knowledge of what the Soviet Union was like, such as the one guy who passes through Ninotchka’s living area (in Ninotchka, we are given the explanation that he is the type that you can never tell whether he is just going to the washroom or to the secret police, and that explanation is absent when he walks through during the “Red Blues” number in Silk Stockings). But, while I do prefer Silk Stockings, Ninotchka is no slouch, either, and I would definitely recommend both movies highly!

Ninotchka

My Rating: 9/10

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Silk Stockings

My Rating: 10/10

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The Winner (in my opinion): Silk Stockings

Screen Team Edition: Fred Astaire & Cyd Charisse

And we’re back to talk about another screen team! This time, it’s Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse! Going into The Band Wagon, Cyd Charisse was coming off her successful partnered dance with Gene Kelly for the “Broadway Melody” ballet in Singin’ In The Rain resulting in her being promoted to leading lady for The Band Wagon. On the other hand, Fred was coming off The Belle Of New York, which had flopped. This put him in a similar situation as his character in The Band Wagon, where he was considering retirement or trying to figure out how to keep going.

In The Band Wagon, washed-up movie actor Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire) decides to leave Hollywood and go to New York City to do a Broadway show written by his friends Lester (Oscar Levant) and Lily (Nanette Fabray) Marton. Lester and Lily have convinced actor/ director Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan) to do their show, and he quickly signs ballet dancer Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse) as the leading lady, along with her boyfriend/ manager Paul Byrd (James Mitchell) as the show’s choreographer. However, Tony and Gabrielle don’t hit it off well at first, and Jeff quickly gets out of control making the show quite different than what Lester and Lily had written. When the show opens out-of-town, they find just how badly out-of-control Jeff had gotten, and they all regroup to figure out how to salvage the show. (Length: one hour, fifty-two minutes)

While they had worked alongside each other a little in the 1946 Ziegfeld Follies, The Band Wagon was the first opportunity that Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse would have to actually work together. As such, Fred did have some concerns about working with her (which ended up being written into his character for the movie). He did worry about her being a little tall for him, which would be fixed either by him wearing a hat or by her wearing flats. And of course, her ballet background made thing different, as Fred had had some ballet when he was much younger, but hadn’t done much for years, and was generally not fond of doing it. We see that in the movie, and it helps drive the early portion of the film, as we only see them “rehearsing” together (but it’s not exactly going well). It’s only when they go to the park, with the intention of seeing whether they can dance together, that we get their iconic “Dancing In The Dark” duet. From there, we see them “rehearse” (admittedly, running into trouble with all the out-of-control smoke, which in some respects was the movie’s director Vincente Minelli making fun of some of the bubble trouble he had with one segment of the aforementioned Ziegfeld Follies). Then we get the “Girl Hunt Ballet,” which was spoofing a lot of the various private eye/detective stories of recent years, with Michael Kidd being brought in due to his work on the Broadway show of Guys And Dolls to choreograph another iconic dance (with Cyd pulling double-duty as a femme-fatale and a “damsel in distress”).

In Silk Stockings, movie producer Steve Canfield (Fred Astaire) wants Russian composer Peter Boroff’s (Wim Sonneveld) music for his new movie, and tries to help him stay in Paris. The Russian government is displeased with this, and sends three commissars (Jules Munshin, Peter Lorre and Joseph Buloff) to bring him back. When Steve distracts them with wine, women and song, special envoy Nina Yoschenko (Cyd Charisse) is sent to try again. She proves to be more resilient, but as the attraction between the two develops, even she manages to loosen, and Steve proposes to her. However, when Nina, Peter and the three commissars hear how Peter’s music has been changed for the movie, they are all offended and they all return to Russia. (Length: one hour, fifty-eight minutes)

Going into filming Silk Stockings, producer Arthur Freed had it pegged as another film for Fred and Cyd. Having established their chemistry in the previous film, they were able to work with another story. The song “All Of You” in effect replaced the attempt by Melvyn Douglas’s Count d’Algout in Ninotchka to make Greta Garbo’s Nina laugh in an attempt to loosen her up with Fred’s Steve Canfield trying to get Cyd’s Nina to loosen up through dance. While she resisted at first, he was able to get through, and she danced with him. While she still resisted a little, by the time they got to the song “Fated To Be Mated” (a new song written specifically for the movie), she has loosened up, and the dance is a more joyous one (and even borrows some of the music from “All Of You” for part of the dance)!

In commenting on Silk Stockings, New York Times writer once said that “There should be legislation requiring that Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse appear together in a musical picture at least once every two years.” While I agree with that statement, sadly, it was not to be. Upon completing the movie, Fred announced he would be retiring (mainly from dancing, although he made a few dance specials for television and would return again for the 1968 Finian’s Rainbow and dance again in That’s Entertainment Part 2). It would also mark the last musical for Cyd as well, although she would continue to do dramatic parts, as well as some dancing here and there, both on the big and small screens. According to some, Silk Stockings underperformed at the box office, resulting in a loss. Personally, I enjoy both of their movies, with a greater preference for Silk Stockings as the better of the two (again, that’s my opinion), so I would very heartily recommend seeing these two work (and dance!) together in either of these movies!

The Band Wagon

My Rating: 10/10

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Silk Stockings

My Rating: 10/10

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Silk Stockings (1957)

Now we have a movie that proves that Paris loves lovers, the 1957 MGM musical Silk Stockings starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse!

Movie producer Steve Canfield (Fred Astaire) wants Russian composer Peter Boroff’s (Wim Sonneveld) music for his new movie, and tries to help him stay in Paris. The Russian government is displeased with this, and sends three commissars (Jules Munshin, Peter Lorre and Joseph Buloff) to bring him back. When Steve distracts them with wine, women and song, special envoy Nina Yoschenko (Cyd Charisse) is sent to try again. She proves to be more resilient, but as the attraction between her and Steve develops, even she manages to loosen up, and Steve proposes to her. However, when Nina, Peter and the three commissars hear how Peter’s music has been changed for the movie, they are all offended and they all return to Russia.

This movie was based on a then-recent Broadway musical with music by Cole Porter (which was based on the 1939 comedy Ninotchka). A lot of the score from the Broadway show was kept for the movie, with a couple of new songs written specifically for the movie. These include the songs “Fated To Be Mated” and “Ritz, Roll And Rock” (and a few altered lyrics on some others in order to comply with the censors). Personally, “Ritz, Roll And Rock” is probably my favorite song from this movie (although most of the music is a lot of fun). It’s a song Fred Astaire apparently asked composer Cole Porter to write for the movie, due to the recent popularity of rock and roll. For me, it’s just a fun song to remember, and it’s one that almost always seems to be at least partly stuck in my head!  The song “All Of You” also manages to be quite memorable (although it’s one of those songs that I’m surprised made it past the censors, considering the suggestive nature of some of the lyrics)!

Just in general, this movie is one that I very, very much enjoy! For me, the cast just makes it work! Fred and Cyd dazzle, alone and together, in their dances. Janis Paige is hilarious, with a character essentially spoofing the famous swimming actress Esther Williams. All three of the Russian commissars are fun to watch (including Peter Lorre, who certainly seems like an odd choice in a musical, especially considering his dancing seems to be very limited, but still manages to make the comedy work). Again, a movie I have so much fun watching (and getting the music stuck in my head), and one I definitely would recommend highly!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection and is one hour, fifty-eight minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… The Band Wagon (1953)

If you’re not going your way by yourself, then let’s all get on The Band Wagon, the classic 1953 musical starring Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse!

Washed-up movie actor Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire) decides to leave Hollywood and go to New York City to do a Broadway show written by his friends Lester (Oscar Levant) and Lily (Nanette Fabray) Marton. Lester and Lily have convinced actor/ director Jeffrey Cordova (Jack Buchanan) to do their show, and he quickly signs ballet dancer Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse) as the leading lady, along with her boyfriend/ manager Paul Byrd (James Mitchell) as the show’s choreographer. However, Tony and Gabrielle don’t hit it off well at first, and Jeff quickly gets out of control making the show quite different than what Lester and Lily had written. When the show opens out-of-town, they find just how badly out-of-control Jeff had gotten, and they all regroup to figure out how to salvage the show.

Similar to the previous year’s classic musical Singin’ In The Rain, The Band Wagon is a celebration of the music of composers Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz. The movie shared the title of the final Broadway show that Fred Astaire did with his sister Adele, but the movie was far different, being given a plot, instead of being a musical revue. Only a few songs from the show were retained for this movie: “I Love Luisa,” “Dancing In The Dark” and “New Sun in The Sky.” All the other songs were pulled from other stuff that Dietz And Schwartz did (with the exception of the song “That’s Entertainment,” which was written for this movie). However you look at it, the movie has a lot of wonderful music and dancing, including the song “Shine On My Shoes,” which featured Fred working with a real dancing shoeshine man, Leroy Daniels, and many others (I plan on commenting on some of the others in another post).

As much as I enjoy Fred Astaire’s films, this is one that took multiple viewings before I appreciated it. But I do believe it to be a wonderful movie, with a lot of songs and dances that certainly grow on you over time. For some, it is considered to be as great as Singin’ In The Rain. Personally, I think it’s better! I will agree most heartily with the iconic status of both the “Dancing In The Dark” and “Girl Hunt Ballet” dance routines, as they both leave me wanting to get up and dance myself (although that last part is just as true for a lot of the other music, too)! Yeah, the film’s ending is a little off, but, honestly, I’m not bothered by it that badly, and I would EASILY recommend this movie to anybody interested!

This movie is available individually on Blu-ray and DVD and on Blu-ray as part of the four film Musicals Collection from Warner Home Video and is one hour, fifty-two minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… Swing Time (1936)

If you’re looking for “a fine romance,” then look no further than the classic Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie Swing Time!

Dancer John “Lucky” Garnett (Fred Astaire) returns to his hometown to marry his fiancee, Margaret Watson (Betty Furness), but the other dancers in the act prevent him from getting to the wedding on time. However, Lucky is able to convince Margaret and her father to try again if he can make $25,000. Lucky goes to New York with his buddy, Pop (Victor Moore), where he meets dance teacher Penny Carrol (Ginger Rogers). While trying to get acquainted in a dance lesson, he accidentally gets her fired, so he tries to get her job back for her. In doing so, he not only gets her job back, he manages to get her an even better offer performing with him at the Silver Sandal nightclub. However, their employment is delayed when nightclub owner Mr. Simpson (Pierre Watkin) loses the contract of his orchestra and its leader, Ricardo Romero (Georges Metaxa), gambling with Dice Raymond (John Harrington), the owner of another nightclub. Lucky manages to win back the orchestra when he goes to Raymond’s club to gamble. Meanwhile, Lucky is falling in love with Penny and is trying not to make $25,000 so he doesn’t have to go back and marry Margaret.

Well, as you can see, the plot doesn’t make a huge amount of sense. But, it’s an Astaire/Rogers movie, and you’re not here for the plot! To be fair, though, I’m not sure how much of the plot’s issues relate to how much society has changed in the time since this movie was made. As I said, though, with an Astaire/Rogers film, you’re generally enjoying the music and the dancing! And what a score, with music provided by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, including such songs as “Pick Yourself Up,” “The Waltz In Swing Time,” “A Fine Romance,” “Bojangles Of Harlem,” “Never Gonna Dance” and the Oscar-winning classic, “The Way You Look Tonight.”

Of course, the three dance duets (“Pick Yourself Up,” “The Waltz In Swing Time” and “Never Gonna Dance”) are the big highlights of the movie! “Pick Yourself Up” starts us off well, with a fun song where Ginger is trying to “teach” Fred how to dance (utilizing some dance steps that would make an appearance in all three routines), and, going into the dance routine, we see her impressed with his abilities that he had been hiding from her only a few moments before. “The Waltz In Swing Time” gives us more progression in their relationship, as we see a fun dance showing off how well they could combine ballroom and tap dancing together! But “Never Gonna Dance” is a masterpiece (well, to me, it is!) showing off their dramatic abilities as they split up, believing they will never dance again, with reprises of “The Way You Look Tonight” and “The Waltz In Swing Time” included as part of the music. Just an absolutely beautiful dance routine (and one that made my “Top 10 Dance Routines” list)!

To be fair, the movie’s not perfect. The main sour note for most would probably be the song and dance for “Bojangles Of Harlem.” Supposedly a “tribute” to African-American dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, it ends up coming off quite differently. Considering Bill Robinson was known for being one of the first African-American performers to NOT wear blackface, Fred’s use of it comes across poorly, never mind the fact that his style of dancing is nothing NEAR what Bill did. And it’s not a simple case of just skipping the song to get past the blackface, as Fred is still wearing it for a few minutes while the story keeps going. Personally, I still get some enjoyment out of the dancing (and the music is catchy, too), especially when Fred goes solo apart from the female chorus, and we get what is the first time he used special effects to enhance his dancing onscreen, as we see him dance off against his own shadows. I do think that the blackface was a mistake on Fred’s part, as I have otherwise gotten the impression that he did respect African-American performers, working with a few and having high praise for the Nicholas Brothers’ dance in the 1943 musical Stormy Weather. In spite of this moment, though, I still would EASILY recommend this movie, as it is just so much fun to watch!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection. With regard to the new, restored transfer, I would say it looks great to me. Sure, it’s not as crisp and clear as some would like, but, considering the original camera negative, which would have yielded the best results, is long gone (and apparently was in bad shape when Criterion licensed the movie for their laserdisc release nearly thirty years ago), this is probably as good as we can hope for. I like it, and I certainly see a lot of improvement over the Warner DVD released about a decade ago, so this recent release comes highly recommended by me (and I personally would, at this point, already be willing to call it the release of the year)! The movie is one hour, forty-four minutes in length.

My Rating: 10/10

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*ranked #1 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2019

Screen Team VS: Bing & Fred vs. Frank & Gene

In 1941, a chance meeting between director Mark Sandrich and composer Irving Berlin resulted in them planning on a musical inspired by various holidays. It was planned as a vehicle for Bing Crosby, and they also decided that it would be right up Fred Astaire’s alley, too. And so we had those two friends paired together for the classic 1942 Paramount movie Holiday Inn. A few years later, MGM responded with their own song-and-dance team of Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh. While I haven’t seen anything that makes them out to be rival teams, considering the individual members were indeed rivals, one can’t help but want to compare them. While I certainly have my preference as to which I enjoy watching more (and so, like on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway, the points don’t matter), I still feel like talking about the two teams, mainly sticking to the movies they made together.

Holiday Inn (1942) (no review from me yet, but I’ll post the link here when I do it) – My Rating: 8/10

Blue Skies (1946) – My Rating: 10/10

Anchors Aweigh (1945) – My Rating: 5/10

Take Me Out To The Ball Game (1949) – My Rating: 9/10

On The Town (1949) – My Rating: 8/10

Screen Team Edition: Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire

Screen Team Edition: Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly

So let’s start with some of the more obvious differences. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire made two movies together, while Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly made three. Between their two films, Bing and Fred have two songs that they work together directly and two more that they are both involved together (just not as much). Frank and Gene can claim about twelve songs that they work together in pretty solidly through their three movies. Irving Berlin provides all the music for Bing and Fred, while Frank and Gene are served by the likes of Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn, Roger Edens, Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Leonard Bernstein.

To get a little deeper into the elements of that differentiate the two, I would say at least two come to mind: how their friendships are portrayed on screen, and how their offscreen careers may have affected the films. On screen, Bing and Fred were similar to Bing and Bob. They were both romantic rivals, and they had no troubles double-crossing each other when it came to romance in Holiday Inn. While Blue Skies started out with a similar relationship, partway through, Fred’s character started to soften, and care enough for the film’s leading lady that he wasn’t as willing to come between them. Meanwhile, Frank and Gene portrayed their characters as good buddies. Admittedly, Gene mainly tried to help Frank to get him off his back in his own attempts at romance, but he still felt like he was betraying a good friend when he fell for the same girl that Frank first fell for. Admittedly, some of that might be different just purely from occupations, as Bing and Fred portrayed characters in show business, and in two of their three movies, Frank and Gene were sailors who no doubt had gone through a lot together.

I also believe their movie careers affected these movies. When Bing and Fred were teamed up, they had both been in the movies for nearly a decade, and were some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. When Frank and Gene were paired together, neither of them had been in the movies for very long (in fact, I get the impression Anchors Aweigh was Frank’s first starring role). Consequently, that affected the various situations. I get the impression from what I have read that both Bing and Frank weren’t big into rehearsing, while Fred and Gene were both perfectionists who put a lot of work into what they did. With Bing as a more established star, he apparently didn’t feel the need to rehearse as much (and I can only imagine that must have driven Fred nuts), thus his dancing comes off poorly. With Frank not as established, he had to put in more rehearsal time with Gene, and so we see them looking at least decent together (and who knows how much natural talent Frank might have had as a dancer compared to Bing). Of course, age might also come into play, too, and Frank and Gene were both in their late 20s/early thirties when first paired together, while Bing was in his late 30s and Fred already in his forties.

Personally, I can’t help but wish the four had made a movie together (and no, I’m not including the first That’s Entertainment movie that they all co-hosted, since they never actually share the screen at any time). Of course, I do know that they had some team up here and there. Rivals Bing and Frank worked together in High Society, Robin And The 7 Hoods, The Road To Hong Kong (Frank makes a cameo appearance), and several TV specials. Fred and Gene worked together for one song in Ziegfeld Follies and again as co-hosts of That’s Entertainment Part 2. Not to mention Bing and Gene making cameo appearances in the Marilyn Monroe movie Let’s Make Love (although they don’t appear together). I think both teams were truly wonderful to watch, but I will always pick Bing and Fred as the more fun team to watch together.

Holiday Inn

My Rating: 8/10

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Blue Skies

My Rating: 10/10

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Anchors Aweigh

My Rating: 5/10

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Take Me Out To The Ball Game

My Rating: 9/10

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On The Town

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

Winner: Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire (again, just my opinion)

Top 10 Dance Routines

Well, I seem to have made it to the 100 post mark for this blog, so I felt the need to celebrate! Considering I have always been quite fond of musicals, which originally inspired me to take up dancing, I feel like doing my top 10 dance routines from the movies! Now, I did set up a few limits. Mainly, I tried to limit the number of dance routines featuring any specific dancers to about one solo routine and one partnered routine per person (otherwise, I could easily list quite a few for some dancers with ease)! I should also mention, that it’s not just the dancing itself, but sometimes the music that influences my opinion as well. Again, this list is entirely my own opinion, and not necessarily even my favorite dance routines and/or songs, but those that just mesh well. They will be presented as song, dancer(s), movie.

1. “Puttin’ On The Ritz,” Fred Astaire, Blue Skies

Fred Astaire’s big tap solo that was originally intended to be his last, as he went into retirement after this movie (which, thankfully, was short-lived). This routine allowed Fred to show he still had some considerable skill, improved by using special effects, such as his cane flying into his hand from the ground. But most famously, we have Fred dancing with a background chorus that consisted entirely of him (long before the days of CGI), which demonstrates just how well-rehearsed and precise he could be with his movements!

2. “Never Gonna Dance,” Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Swing Time

While Fred Astaire partnered with a number of talented ladies over his career, few are better remembered than Ginger Rogers, who brought her talents as a dramatic actress to the table. It took a lot of thought to pick which one of their routines to add to this list, but I went with “Never Gonna Dance.” This wonderful dance showcases their dramatic abilities, coupled with superb dancing (not to mention beautiful music that also brings back “The Way You Look Tonight” and “Waltz In Swing Time”)!

3. “Singin’ In The Rain,” Gene Kelly, Singin’ In The Rain

Of course, no list of famous dances would be complete without this classic! You can’t help but smile when thinking of Gene Kelly’s iconic dance, joyful in what could otherwise be depressing weather! So grab an umbrella and start dancing (and singing!) in the rain!

4. “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” Marge and Gower Champion, Lovely To Look At

For me, this one just HAS to be on the list. The husband-and-wife dance team of Marge and Gower Champion wasn’t renowned for their acting ability, and neither made a huge mark in the movies, but this movie (and most particularly this routine) was one of their best. From their kiss at the beginning of the routine that sends them “up among the stars” to the end of the routine, we are treated to some wonderful dancing, some superb lifts and one of the most beautiful orchestrations of this (or any other song) that I’ve had the chance to enjoy!!

5. “Barn Dance,” group dance, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers

Ok, so I’m simplifying things by calling it a group dance, but if I listed everybody, you’d spend too much time reading that list! But still, who can pass up the chance to watch the six brothers constantly one-up the men from town as they show off for the ladies! Between the music, the high-flying leaps and flips, this is always fun!

6. “Make ‘Em Laugh,” Donald O’Connor, Singin’ In The Rain

Yep, Donald O’Connor’s classic comedy dance is here, too! While the music might have borrowed heavily from the Cole Porter tune “Be A Clown,” Donald brought all of his abilities to hear, with pratfalls, and many different comedy bits (and some dancing as well)! Always fun to watch (and good for a laugh)!

7. “Ragamuffin Romeo,” Marion Stadler and Don Rose, King Of Jazz

As I’ve said before, a wonderful example of some old vaudeville style dancing! While neither of the two dancers here have any lasting fame, what they do is still impressive! She’s supposed to a doll made up of rags, and, with her flexibility, she acts and moves just like it! The lifts are just phenomenal, and I could easily watch this dance!

8. “Yankee Doodle Boy/ GiveMy Regards To Broadway,” James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy

While he was a song-and-dance man himself, James Cagney ended up being typecast as a gangster for a lot of his movies with Warner Brothers. But this movie (and most particularly these two songs paired together) helped change that. Cagney successfully portrayed George M. Cohan, making use of the real Cohan’s style of dance, while still maintaining his own!

9. “Honolulu,” Eleanor Powell and Gracie Allen, Honolulu

This is one of those dances I just love to watch! For me, it was this dance that proved to me what I had heard many times, that Eleanor Powell was one of the few women at that time who could out-dance Fred Astaire. The music is fun, as is watching Gracie Allen dancing with Eleanor, but once Eleanor starts with her solo section, that’s when the real fun begins! I love watching her tap dance and jump rope at the same time (since I would probably get tangled up if I tried)!

10. “Heather On The Hill,” Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, Brigadoon

As wonderful a dancer as she is, of course Cyd Charisse needed to be represented on this list! While there are other dances that she did that I enjoyed more (but can’t include because of my own silly rules), I can’t deny the beauty of this duet with Gene Kelly. With some beautiful music to help, this romantic routine with its lifts and balletic quality is certainly still worthy of inclusion!

Well, that’s my list! I hope everyone enjoyed it (and I’d certainly like to hear what everybody else’s lists would be)! Also, if there’s enough demand/ interest, later on I might just do a “Top 5 Dance Routines I Would Love To Learn!” But that’s all for now!