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August 16, 2005

Astaire & Rogers

One of the worst mistakes I've made while trying to do work. TCM had a Fred Astaire marathon yesterday, and I spent the evening and wee hours trying to write code in front of the TV. If they were singers, this might have worked. Dancers, though, you have to watch. Perfect if you're an attorney or a guest host. Not so good for a programmer extracting himself from the business.

He and Ginger made 10 movies together, 9 of them before she went off and decided to become a Serious Actress. All 9 in black and white. You could make an entire highlight reel of the best dancing scenes in Hollywood history just from this pair. As it was, I got to see three of them: the dance on the staircase from Swing Time, the roller-skating dance from Shall We Dance, and that little impromptu dance on the boat from that movie, too.

That last one is just so much fun to watch. You see her looking at his feet, trying to figure out what he's doing so she can follow. Now that's acting. In fact, all the dances tell a story, and you can see her expression change during course of it.

Their dancing was less fluid, though, more staged in a way. Compare any one of their numbers with Astair & Cyd Charisse in Bandwagon. She's practically liquid as she drapes herself over his arm.

Of course, it wasn't so much 9 different films as it was the same film 9 times. Like the first 50 Haydn symphonies or all the Vivaldi quartets. "Let's just set it in London this time instead of Venice! We'll have Porter or Berlin or Gershwin whip up some new songs. They even used the same supporting cast for most of the films, including this guy:

Who's not this guy:

You keep waiting for Edward Everett Horton to ask, "Do you expect me to talk?" And for this meek butler to reply, "No, Mr. Horton, I expect you to die!" as he turns to walk up the staircase.

But of course, he never does.

Posted by joshuasharf at August 16, 2005 11:49 AM | TrackBack

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