Thursday, June 2, 2011

Royal Wedding, this time 2011

Royal Wedding (MGM) is a 1951 musical comedy film known for Fred Astaire's dance performance on a ceiling and with a coat rack. The story is set in London in 1947 at the time of the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and stars Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford, Sarah Churchill and Keenan Wynn, with music by Burton Lane and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. The film was directed by Stanley Donen. It was his second film and the first film he directed by himself.

Astaire and Powell play a brother and sister song and dance duo, echoing the real-life theatrical relationship of Fred and Adele Astaire. Powell, who was not first choice for the role, surprised her colleagues with her all-round ability. She falls for Lawford, who plays an English aristocrat - mirroring Adele Astaire's romance and eventual marriage to Lord Charles Cavendish, son of the Duke of Devonshire.

Royal Wedding is one of several MGM musicals (another being Till the Clouds Roll By) that have lapsed into public domain. As such it is widely available on Video and DVD, but the quality of these versions varies. In 2007, however, Warner Home Video issued a restored version of Royal Wedding in a DVD set along with The Belle of New York. The film was later featured in an episode of Cinema Insomnia
* 1 Plot
* 2 Cast
* 3 Key songs/dance routines
* 4 Casting
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 Notes
* 8 External links

Plot

The rather thin story sees brother and sister Tom and Ellen Bowen as stars of a show "Every Night at Seven', a Broadway success. They are persuaded to take the show to London, capitalising on the imminent Royal Wedding.

On the ship, Ellen meets and quickly falls in love (a habit with her) with impoverished but socially well-connected aristocrat, Lord John Brindale. Whilst casting the show in London, Tom falls in love wih a newly engaged dancer, Anne Ashmond. Tom assists Anne to reconcile her estranged parents, and also asks his agent to locate Anne's supposed fiancee in Chicago - only to discover that he's married.

Carried away by the emotion of the wedding, the two couples decide that will also be married that day.
Cast

* Fred Astaire - Tom Bowen
* Jane Powell - Ellen Bowen
* Sarah Churchill - Anne Ashmond
* Peter Lawford - Lord John Brindale

Key songs/dance routines

Choreographer Nick Castle collaborated with Astaire on several of the numbers. Although none of the songs are considered standards, dance-wise, it is notable for the inclusion of not one but two Astaire solos, both of which are amongst his best known works. Parody, of himself and of some well-known colleagues, is an important theme of the choreography.

* "Ev'ry Night At Seven": A rather tired-looking Astaire (pretending to be a bored king) and a lively Powell sing and dance through this royal-themed number.

Fred Astaire in "Sunday Jumps"

* "Sunday Jumps": Astaire credits the idea for this famous solo to his long-time choreographic collaborator Hermes Pan. In it, Astaire parodies himself by dancing with a hatstand and appears to parody his rival and friend Gene Kelly by inserting a mock bodybuilding episode during which he kicks aside some Indian clubs in a reference to Kelly's routine with The Nicholas Brothers in The Pirate. The fame of the dance rests on Astaire's ability to animate the inanimate. The solo takes place in a ship's gym, where Astaire is waiting to rehearse with his partner Powell, who doesn't turn up, echoing Adele Astaire's attitude towards her brother's obsessive rehearsal habits to which the lyrics (unused and unpublished) also made reference. Controversially, in 1997, it was digitally manipulated to show Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner in Dirt Devil commercials. In a missive, later published in Time Magazine and Variety Astaire's daughter Ava severely criticized the corporation's president, writing: "Your paltry, unconscionable commercials are the antithesis of everything my lovely, gentle father represented.This number has been referenced by Mel Gibson in What Women Want and by David Byrne in the live film of his band, Talking Heads, as well as parodied by Kermit the Frog in The Great Muppet Caper.

* "Open Your Eyes": This lilting waltz is sung by Powell at the beginning of a romantic routine danced by Powell and Astaire in front of an audience in the ballroom of a transatlantic liner. Soon, a storm rocks the ship and the duet is transformed into a comic parody with the dancers sliding about to the ship's motions. This number is based on a real-life incident which happened to Fred and Adele Astaire as they travelled by ship to London in 1923.

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